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On December 29, the IRS finally began sending out the second round of Economic Impact Payments (aka stimulus checks).
The new Covid relief legislation currently provides for a payment of up to $600 for eligible individuals, as opposed to the $1,200 payments received last spring. And while the House has passed a measure to increase the incentive checks from $600 to $2,000 for eligible individuals, it remains a long shot to get the larger payment approved by the Senate.
In the meantime, the $600 payment passed by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump is is now being sent to eligible Americans. The IRS states that if Congress passes an increase in Economic Impact Payments, the additional payment will be issued to make the difference.
Calculator: Find out how much your second incentive payment could be
Who is eligible for a stimulus check?
In general, U.S. citizens and resident aliens who meet income requirements and who cannot be claimed as dependent on someone else’s tax return are eligible. Income is based on your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) for 2019. Individuals earning less than $75,000 and householders under $112,500 are generally eligible for the full incentive payment of $600. Those who are married and applying together, or surviving spouses who earn less than $150,000 are usually eligible for a $1,200 payment.
If you exceed the income requirements, you may still receive a reduced incentive payment, but the $600 payment will be stopped completely at $87,000 AGI for individuals and $174,000 AGI for couples applying jointly.
People with eligible children will receive an additional $600 per child. However, children 17 and older who are claimed dependents are not eligible for the child support.
Unlike the first stimulus payment, adults who are claimed as dependent on someone else’s tax return (such as a student) are not eligible for a second stimulus check.
When will incentive payments be phased out?
The benefits are reduced at the same rate as the incentive benefits under the CARES Act. However, because the benefits are lower, the income levels at which they are phased out are lower than under the CARES Act.
For individuals: Your stimulus check is reduced by $5 for every $100 you earn above the $75,000 AGI threshold. Incentive payments disappear completely for this group at $87,000 AGI.
For married couples filing jointly: Your stimulus check will be reduced by $5 for every $100 you earn above the $150,000 AGI threshold. Incentive payments disappear completely for this group at $174,000 AGI.
For family heads: Your stimulus check is reduced by $5 for every $100 you earn above the AGI threshold of $112,500. Incentive payments disappear completely for this group at $124,500.
Changes to the CARES Act
Children are eligible for the full amount
Eligible dependent children will receive the full stimulus payment amount of $600 (versus $500 in the CARES Act).
Increased suitability of the CARES Act
In many cases, couples who filed a joint return where only one partner had a Social Security number were not eligible for the first Economic Impact Payment under the CARES Act. The new legislation extends benefits to eligible taxpayers and children with a work-eligible Social Security number. So eligible families with mixed immigration statuses can now receive both Economic Impact Payments.
If you did not receive the first incentive payment due to exclusion under the CARES Act, you may be able to claim the Recovery discount on your 2020 tax return. Based on your 2019 tax return, you should also automatically receive the second incentive payment.
Does receiving the first stimulus check mean receiving the second stimulus check?
Not necessary. If your taxable income has increased from 2018 to 2019, you may not qualify for the second incentive benefit. Because the incentive benefits for lower incomes gradually expire (because of the lower amount of the incentive), fewer people are also eligible for an incentive cheque.
For example, if you were an individual who earned $90,000 AGI in 2019, you were eligible for a reduced stimulus payment in the first round. But for the second round of checks, the maximum AGI for an individual filer is $87,000, so you’re no longer eligible for a stimulus check.
You don’t need to claim your stimulus check
The IRS emphasized that no additional action is required for eligible individuals — eligible taxpayers who applied in 2019 will receive automatic payments. Payments are also automatic for people who have not filed taxes in 2019 and have received Social Security, survivor’s or disability benefits (SSDI), railroad retirement benefits, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or Veterans Affairs benefits.
There’s also good news for low-wage earners who typically don’t file federal tax returns. If you have successfully registered with the IRS Non-Filers Tool no later than November 21, 2020, and you are eligible, your payment must be sent to you.
Read more: Do I have to claim my Stimulus Check? And Other Stimulus Control FAQs
How does my payment come in?
If the IRS has direct deposit information for you, your payment will be received as an ACH transfer to that account. many Americans have already started receiving their stimulus payments. If the IRS doesn’t have direct deposit records on file, your payment will be mailed as a check or debit card.
The payment method of your first incentive payment does not indicate how you will receive your second payment. You may have received a debit card for your first stimulus check, but receive a paper check for the second payment – or vice versa. The Tax and Customs Administration and the Ministry of Finance advise you to keep a close eye on your mail from the beginning of January. Check your box regularly if it’s unsecured, and go through the mail carefully to make sure your payment isn’t lost or thrown away.
The Payment card with economic impact is issued by MetaBank, NA, and the Treasury seal will be prominently displayed on the envelope.
When will my incentive payment be available?
While there are already many second stimulus checks in bank accounts, these payments are tentative or pending until the official payment date on January 4, 2021. This delay may seem unnecessary, but the official date in January will ensure everyone receives their stimulus checks during tax year 2021. .
To speed up the delivery process, the Bureau of Fiscal Service, a division of the US Treasury Department, will send a limited number of payments by debit card. While direct deposits are already popping up, checks and debit cards sent in the mail will take significantly longer to process and arrive – the IRS and the Treasury Department say that Receive my payment is updated to reflect the date your check or debit card was sent, and it usually takes up to 14 days to receive payment.
How To Check Your Incentive Check Payment Status
The IRS offers a Receive my payment tool in English and Spanish to check the status of both the first and second stimulus checks. The tool is currently offline for updates, but is expected to be available in a few days.
Keep an eye on the status of your payment to determine when and how your payment will be received.
What should I do now?
Keep an eye on your bank account for a direct deposit. Go to Receive my payment after the new year to check the status of your payment. If you’ve moved or closed your bank account since your last tax return, check out: Where is my stimulus check? When will I get it? For more information.