In the unprecedented times caused by the spread of COVID-19, millions of Americans are looking to the stimulus funds from the Coronavirus Stimulus Package for relief. These funds are providing a bit of economic relief with direct payments to Americans in various amounts depending on income, marital status, and family size. The funds seek to help with stimulating the economy and helping those who have experienced financial hardships as a result of COVID-19.
The task of dispatching funds to every American promptly speaks to a Herculean effort from the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service. The undertaking of paying millions of Americans with speed, efficiency, and accuracy is something that has never happened before.
So, how–and when–exactly will you receive these essential funds? For most people, it happens with the help of tax information provided in 2018 or 2019.
What if you are a non-filer, though? What do you do?
The IRS has made this simple–here’s what non-filers need to do to get a stimulus check.
The IRS Tracking Tool
The Internal Revenue Service and Treasury Department recently launched an online tool for Americans to track and register for stimulus payments. If you are a filer, you are automatically registered. If you are a non-filer, you need to visit the site and register to receive a payment.
There is a handy selection that states, “Non-Filers: Enter Payment Here” on the home page. Follow the steps listed under that selection. If you plan to file taxes in 2019 and just have not done so yet, you should not complete this step.
The tool will ask for your:
- Social Security number
This information will help confirm your eligibility and centralize the information needed to send a stimulus payment. The IRS will ask for your financial or bank account information–but solely to direct deposit the funds. If you do not provide direct deposit information, the IRS will mail the payment to the provided address.
Completing this form does not impact tax payments moving forward–it just helps you to receive relief amid COVID-19.
Who Qualifies as a Non-Filer?
If you are questioning whether you qualify as a non-filer, there are some straightforward criteria to determine that answer. Non-filers are U.S. citizens or permanent residents who did not file a tax return in 2018 or 2019 for the following reasons:
- The gross income did not exceed $12,200 ($24,400 if married) in a year
- Supplemental Security Income recipients
- Veterans Disability Compensation, pension, or survivor benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs
- A college student who cannot be claimed as a dependent and did not exceed $12,200 in income
- People who were not required to file a federal income tax return or do not plan to do so in 2019 for other approved reasons
Railroad Retirement, Social Security Disability Insurance, and Social Security beneficiaries will automatically receive payments. If you are in this group and have qualifying children younger than 17, you can use this tool to claim $500 per child.
If you filed in one year but not the other, the IRS will use the information from the year you did file, and then you would not need to use this tool. For example, if you filed in 2018 but will not file in 2019, your 2018 information can be used.
If you do plan to file in 2019, you do not qualify as a non-filer. The IRS extended the federal tax return deadline to July 15, 2020, so there is still time to file if you do qualify and need to do that. Filing sooner rather than later will help you receive your stimulus payment–but you should not complete the non-filer payment tool.
When Can Payments Be Expected?
The IRS and Treasury have worked tirelessly to begin disbursing the economic relief many are waiting for. Millions of Americans with direct deposit information on file have already received payments with the number growing each day. The IRS continues to process the information provided by non-filers, so the Economic Impact Payments can go out as quickly as possible.
The IRS has a second tool to help in the task of providing aid to millions: The Get My Payment tracker. It provides payment status, including the scheduled direct deposit or mailing date. If you did not provide bank account information before this, the tool allows you to do so now. That particular feature will be unavailable if payment is already scheduled.
To track the payment, you will need to provide a Social Security Number or Individual Tax ID Number, date of birth, street address, and zip or postal code. This tracker is updated daily.
How Much Can Be Expected?
The Coronavirus Stimulus Package provides direct payments of $1,200 to taxpayers with annual gross incomes up to $75,000. After that, payments are phased out and end at the $99,000 income level.
Families can also expect $500 per child while married couples with a combined income of less than $150,000 can expect $2,700. These funds are intended to act as a safety net for those who have experienced the effects of the pandemic, especially for those who are unable to work.
How Do Tax-Filers Receive their Aid?
If you do file taxes and meet the income requirements outlined above, you can also expect an Economic Impact Payment. The IRS has designed the payment process to be automatic for tax-filers.
If you filed taxes in 2018 or 2019, you do not have to take additional steps. This also goes for those who received Railroad Retirement, Supplemental Security Income, Social Security retirement or disability payments, or survivor benefits–but refer to the non-filer qualifications section if you are in this category but need to claim a dependent.
The main difference for tax-filers will be whether the payment is received via direct deposit or a check in the mail:
- If you provided bank account information for federal tax returns in 2018 or 2019, you could expect a direct deposit.
- If you did not, a paper check will be mailed to you.
The IRS is working around the clock to mail these checks out–but there are millions in the queue. This requires patience and flexibility from everyone as the department seeks to get these out.
Unfortunately, some people are taking advantage of individuals seeking these funds. It is important that you only used trusted sources and sound judgment when providing information. Currently, IRS.gov is the only site asking for non-filer information. Any other site will be a scam.
Additionally, there is no fee to receive these funds. If a site is asking for a payment to receive the stimulus payment, it is a scam. Protect yourself and use credible resources when seeking payment.
Related: A Guide to Emergency Grants and Loans for Entrepreneurs
Right now, the government has authorized these payments as a one-time endeavor. There are no additional payments scheduled at this time. As COVID-19 and its effects continue to unfold, everyone will have to wait and see what comes next.
The short answer is: no one knows. In the meantime, stay healthy, wash your hands, keep your distance, and spend your Economic Impact Payment wisely.