What you need to know about the federal government’s COVID-19 direct payments

The office of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders on Monday put out information on how Vermonters (and all Americans) can get the $1,200 federal stimulous money promised in a $2 trillion federal aid package signed into law recently.
“While these are difficult times, it heartens me to see the spirit and resilience of my fellow Vermonters,” Sanders said in the newsletter. “Every day I see acts of kindness — people selflessly protecting and helping our most vulnerable community members. If we all do our part, we will get through this together.”The newsletter gave the following information and direction:

What You Need to Know about Direct Aid to Individuals

$1,200 Direct Payments

$1,200 one-time, direct payment to all eligible adults making $75,000 and under per year

$500 one-time, direct payment per child per household

One-time, reduced income-based payment for individuals making between $75,000 and $99,000 and for couples making between $150,000 and $198,000


How to Receive Your Economic Relief Check:

If you’ve filed a tax return for 2018 or 2019:

If you are income eligible, you will receive a payment. No action is required on your part.

If the IRS has your direct deposit information, it will be deposited into your bank account. The IRS will soon make a website available to update your direct deposit information to speed up delivery of the payment, otherwise you will receive a check in the mail.

Please note: if the IRS does not have your bank information, it may take several months for you to receive a check. 

If you are normally not required to file a federal return and you are a Social Security beneficiary who receives a SSA-1099:

You also will receive a payment and no action is required on your part.

It will be directly deposited into your bank account – or you will receive a check in the mail.

If you are normally not required to file a federal tax return and you receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) with no other types of Social Security benefits:

You may receive a notification from the Treasury for the additional information you will need to file to receive your check. The IRS is encouraging anyone who has not filed a tax return for 2018 or 2019 to file a simple tax return as soon as possible and to include direct deposit information on the return.

The IRS will be issuing details on what additional actions SSI recipients need to take in the coming days. Visit the following IRS website for updates:

If you are normally not required to file a federal tax return and currently qualify for public assistance programs:

For example, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and Medicaid — at this point in time — you will not automatically get the check. You will need to file a tax return for 2019. 

Visit the IRS website for updates on when the simple tax return will be available:

If you are required to file a tax return and have not for 2018 and 2019:

You can file for free using IRS’ Free File program here:

As stated, the IRS is developing a simplified tax return form that will be available on the IRS website soon to make this process even easier. 


Frequently Asked Questions:

Where can I get the latest updates and resources on my economic relief check?
The IRS has created a special page on their website with the latest official updates on the disbursement of the economic relief checks and other tax-related coronavirus relief programs. You can find the page here:


What do I do if the IRS page does not have the information I am looking for?
Given the speed and enormity of the task that the IRS and the Treasury Department are undertaking, many of the program details and regulations are still being written. The IRS will post updates on their coronavirus relief page.


How much will my check be?
Most adults will receive $1,200 and an additional $500 per child (16 years old or younger). As discussed below, you may receive a reduced amount or no check depending on a variety of factors including income level, age, and immigration status. 
There is no official calculator yet from the IRS, but some privately created calculators provide an estimate of how much you and your family may receive. You can find an example of one such simple calculator here.


When will I receive my check?
We’re not sure yet. The Treasury Department has stated that checks may go out as soon as mid- or late April. In previous programs like this one, it took a few months for all the checks to go out, so it may not be until later in the Spring or early Summer before they arrive. 
In an effort to speed up the process, the Treasury Department has indicated that they will create a website allowing individuals who have not previously provided their direct deposit information to do so. Visit the IRS coronavirus relief site for more information, as well as the IRS economic payment FAQ site:


Who will receive a reduced check and who is excluded from receiving the economic relief check? 
While the economic relief checks have been characterized as going to everyone, millions of people will not receive them.

First, you will only receive a check if you filed a tax return in 2018 or 2019, or if you receive Social Security benefits (specifically if you receive a SSA-1099) and are income eligible. 

In other words, with the exception of certain Social Security recipients, you will need to file your 2018 or 2019 tax return if you have not done so to get your check.

Second, you will not receive a check or will receive a reduced amount if you earned over $75,000 as a single person, over $150,000 if you are married, and over $112,500 if you file as head of household.

Your check amount will decline by $5 for every $100 earned over the relevant threshold.

For an estimate of how much you may receive, find an income calculator here

Third, you will not receive a separate check if you are claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return, even if you are over 18. 

The $500 additional payment for children only applies to children 16 and younger, even if you continue to claim your child as a dependent.

Finally, you will not receive a check if you do not have a Social Security number.

This means that many immigrants who use an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) will not receive these payments. This includes families with a mixed status. 


What information is my check based on?
In order to get payments out as fast as possible, the Treasury will draw on multiple years of data. Ideally, your check will be based on your income and status in 2020.

If you have already filed your 2019 tax return, the Treasury will send out payment based on your 2019 taxes. If you have not filed for 2019 yet, the Treasury will send out payment based on your 2018 taxes. 

If you receive Social Security benefits (you receive a SSA-1099), you will receive a check based on the information obtained by Social Security.

If your income has dropped or your status has changed in 2020 in a way that would result in a larger check, then you will receive the additional amount next year when you file your 2020 tax return.

If your income dropped or your status changed in 2019 compared to your 2018 tax return, and you have not filed your 2019 tax return, you may want to file as soon as possible so you can receive your full check immediately.

If your income increased or your status changed in a way this year that would lower your check compared to your 2019 or 2018 tax returns, you will not be penalized for the additional amount you receive.


If I receive the economic stimulus check, will it count as income for the purposes of other government assistance programs? 
The economic stimulus check will not be treated as income and will not affect your eligibility for other government assistance programs like subsidized housing, Social Security Income (SSI), food stamps (3SquaresVT), and more. 


Will the stimulus check go to veterans?
Veterans who otherwise fit the income and filing requirements are eligible to receive a stimulus check.


Is the economic relief check taxable?
No, it will not be taxable.


Will my benefit be reduced if I have defaulted on federal student loans or if I owe federal or state taxes?
No, it is not subject to garnishment.


Is the $1,200 check enough assistance during this time to help families?
While the $1,200 payment to every adult and the additional $500 per child will provide a critical lifeline to families during this hard time, it is not enough to help many families. 
I believe that every person in the United States should receive $2,000 payments each month until this health crisis is over, and I will continue to fight for more support for all families across the country. 



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