How to Get a Stimulus Check from the Federal Government
By: Rita Cunha | January 14th 2021
The federal government has been passing relief bills since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. One of the key features of the stimulus package bills has been stimulus checks. As of February 2021, Americans have received two stimulus checks each, with more possibly on the way. If you have questions about your relief payments or you’re unsure how to get a stimulus check, keep reading. We are covering everything you need to know.
Who Can Get a Stimulus Check? Eligibility Requirements
The eligibility requirements for both rounds of covid stimulus checks have been fairly simple. Here is a rundown of who can get a stimulus payment:
- Individuals with an adjusted gross income (AGI) of less than $75,000 per year
- Married couples with an adjusted gross income (AGI) of $150,000 or less, if filing jointly
- Head of household making up to $112,500 annually
- Non-filers (people who don’t normally file a tax return for several reasons)
- Dependents under the age of 17 (some changes may happen for the third stimulus check)
Keep in mind that all these qualifying requirements apply to both Americans and non-Americans, as long as they have a valid social security number. In other words, immigrants on a green card or H1-B and H2-A visas will get their payments.
If your income is above those we’ve listed, you won’t get the full amount of any stimulus check. However, you may qualify for a partial payment, depending on how much you earn annually.
Who Can’t Get a Stimulus Check?
Some people will not be getting a stimulus check from the federal government. Undocumented immigrants and high-income earners with a too-high AGI for example, don’t qualify for payments.
If you are unsure whether or not you qualify for these coronavirus relief bill payments, don’t worry. Figuring this out is easy. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has launched a “Get My Payment” tool that you can use to see if you are eligible. All you have to do is enter your social security number and other personal information. You can also track your stimulus checks to see if they have been issued yet or are still being processed.
How Much Money Will I Get?
Democrats and Republicans in Congress issued two rounds of coronavirus relief package bills in 2020. The first check put $1,200 into Americans’ pockets in March last year. The second stimulus check was $600, issued in December.
Thus, single filers claimed $1,800 in total in 2020, while married couples received $3,600 from the Treasury Department. Additionally, each dependent under 17 years of age was also eligible for $500 and $600 from the first and second payments, respectively.
There May Be More Checks Coming
The two stimulus checks issued under President Trump since the CARES Act was passed in March aren’t the last. Because the economic impacts of Covid are still being felt by families across the country, more stimulus checks are coming. President Biden and Democrats in the House and Senate are pushing for a third stimulus check, this time of $1,400 for every single filer.
If this new package is approved by legislators, single filers, married couples, and heads of household with dependents will all get more stimulus money. Adult dependents (for instance, college students) may also be entitled to get payments under the third stimulus package.
How Will I Get My Payment?
By now, you should have gotten both your first and second stimulus payment. The IRS and US Treasury Department worked together to send out the stimulus payments as quickly as possible.
Most people received these direct payments in their bank account as a direct deposit. This is still the preferred way of sending payments to Americans, so you likely won’t have to do anything to get your money.
Others got their stimulus money as a paper check that they could deposit. In fewer cases, though, the US Treasury Department decided to issue an Economic Impact Payment (EIP) card, which is a prepaid debit card.
What to Do If You Haven’t Received Your Payments Yet
Some people haven’t received either their first stimulus payment, their second stimulus payment, or both. If you’re in this situation, there are ways you can get the stimulus money you are owed.
First, go to IRS.gov to check on the status of your payments. If for some reason they haven’t been issued, you can still claim the two stimulus checks when you file your tax return.
The Recovery Rebate Credit is a mechanism designed to ensure you’re getting everything you are entitled to. When the tax season starts, you can file your tax return and fill out Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR. This applies even to those who don’t typically need to file taxes. It is the only way to get your stimulus money into your bank account.
Once the third stimulus check gets issued, make sure to keep on top of things. Visit the IRS website to ensure your payment is on the way. Just because you did not receive the first and/or second round of payments doesn’t mean you won’t get the third round automatically deposited into your account.
Stimulus Checks May Come with Strings Attached
Generally speaking, the first and second rounds of stimulus checks came with few strings attached. In other words, you could spend that money however you saw fit, even if you owed child support or had outstanding student loan debt, for example. However, it is still unclear whether the third stimulus check will follow the same rules.
President Biden and Democrats in Congress are still tinkering with the next stimulus bill and some things might still change. There is a chance your stimulus payment could all go to paying off debts you haven’t addressed yet. Pay attention to the IRS website and governmental announcements for more updated information.
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