CARES Act – COVID-19 Coronavirus Economic Impact Payments / Stimulus Checks

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Updated 10/6/2020 9:15 a.m.

Extended deadline for people who don't file a tax return
If you are not required to file a tax return, such as low-income families whose income is below $12,200 ($24,400 for married couples), or your only source of income is Reach Up (TANF), General Assistance or a Veteran's benefit, use the IRS Non-Filer Tool now to get your stimulus check. Do this by November 21 so you don't miss out. (Beginning two weeks after you register, you can track the status of the payment using the Get My Payment tool on IRS.gov.)

Video: In April we hosted an online Town Hall information session about stimulus checks. Watch the video on Facebook or YouTube.

The federal coronavirus relief law (called the CARES Act) will give money to most adults in the United States. The IRS will send the money to your home in the form of a check or a special debit card, or they will deposit it in your bank account. (Learn more about the debit card that you might get, below.) 

Some people who have not filed a tax return will need to file a tax form to get the money. The IRS started electronic deposits of the federal Economic Impact Payment (EIP) around April 13, 2020.

We describe different situations and answer common questions below.

Be aware of scams!

We are worried about the potential for scams and fraud with the stimulus payments. Do not provide your personal information or bank account number to anyone who says they can get an advance on this money. Do not fill out any application to get your money faster. The system does not work that way.

The IRS will not call you, text you, email you or contact you on social media asking for personal or bank account information — even related to the economic impact payments. Also, beware of emails with attachments or links claiming to have special information about economic impact payments or refunds. Don't open the emails and don't click on attachments or links.  Go to IRS.gov for more information about scams.

Instructions for different situations

  1. If you have filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return, you will automatically get your stimulus check by direct deposit, check or a special debit card depending on how you asked for your refund during those tax years. You do not have to do anything. 
  2. If you have not filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return, and you receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI), you will automatically get your stimulus check. You do not have to do anything. (See the note below if you just started getting SSI in 2020.) But, if you have qualifying children under age 17 living at home, use the IRS Non-Filer Tool now to claim the $500 payment per child. Do this by September 30 so you don’t miss out this year. If you miss that deadline you will need to file a 2020 tax return to get the $500 per child in 2021.
  3. If you have not filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return, and you receive Veterans Compensation and Pension (C&P) payments, you will automatically get a stimulus check. You do not have to do anything. But, if you have qualifying children under age 17 living at home, use the IRS Non-Filer Tool now to claim the $500 payment per child. Do this by September 30 so you don’t miss out this year. If you miss that deadline you will need to file a 2020 tax return to get the $500 per child in 2021.
  4. If you have not filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return, and you receive Social Security, Social Security Disability (SSDI) or Railroad Retirement, you would have gotten a tax form called a SSA-1099 or an RRB-1099 in January or February. In this case, you will automatically get your stimulus check. You do not have to do anything. (See the note below if you just started getting Social Security in 2020.) But, if you have qualifying children under age 17 living at home, use the IRS Non-Filer Tool now to claim the $500 payment per child. Do this by September 30 so you don’t miss out this year. If you miss that deadline you will need to file a 2020 tax return to get the $500 per child in 2021.
  5. If you are not required to file a tax return, such as low-income families whose income is below $12,200 ($24,400 for married couples), or your only source of income is Reach Up (TANF), General Assistance or a Veteran's benefituse the IRS Non-Filer Tool now to get your stimulus check. Do this by November 21 so you don't miss out. Information you need for the Non-Filer Tool:
    • full name, current mailing address and an email address
    • date of birth and valid Social Security number
    • bank account number, account type and routing number, if you have a bank account
    • Identity Protection Personal Identification Number (IP PIN) if you got one from the IRS earlier this year
    • driver’s license or state-issued ID, if you have one
    • for each qualifying child under age 17 who lives with you and who depends on you: name, Social Security number or Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number, and their relationship to you or your spouse
    • Beginning two weeks after you register, you can track the status of the payment using the Get My Payment tool on IRS.gov.
  6. If you just started to get Social Security or SSI benefits in 2020, and you did not file a tax return for 2018 or 2019, you can use the IRS Non-Filer Tool to get your stimulus check. Beginning two weeks after you register, you can track the status of the payment using the Get My Payment tool on IRS.gov.
  7. If you are required to file a tax return (your gross income was above $12,200 or $24,400 for married couples), use a free tax preparation service such as IRS Free File or Turbo Tax to prepare and submit a tax return. Or you can file a paper income tax return or find a professional tax preparer through this directory. Remember, you have until July 15, 2020, to file a tax return. The stimulus payments will be issued through December 2020.

We will update this web page as new information comes in.

Check IRS.gov/coronavirus for more information.

EIP debit cards for some Vermonters who get Social Security or SSI

Attention Social Security and SSI beneficiaries: The IRS has announced that they are sending nearly 4 million Economic Impact Payments (stimulus checks) by prepaid debit card, instead of by paper check.

Check your mail and make sure you review all of the envelopes you receive carefully. See a photo of the cards here so you know what to look for in your mail. This is not a scam. Do not throw out these cards.

These EIP Cards arrive in a plain envelope from Money Network Cardholder Services. The Visa name will appear on the front of the card. The back of the card has the name of the issuing bank, MetaBank, N.A. Information included with the card will explain that the card is an Economic Impact Payment Card.

You can use the EIP Card to make purchases, get cash from in-network ATMs, and transfer funds to your personal bank account without any fees. (In-network ATMs have an Allpoint logo on them and are often located in larger pharmacies and grocery stores in Vermont). Be warned: There are fees to do some things with the card, so check the EIP Card FAQ web page for the latest information.

Read more about the EIP Card at www.eipcard.com. More information is available in the Treasury’s press release. Please note that the EIP Card is not the same as the Direct Express Debit Card on which many Social Security and SSI beneficiaries receive their monthly benefit payment. If you need to get a replacement EIP Card, call the EIP Card call center at 1-800-240-8100.

Questions & Answers

What should I know about fraud and scams?

We are worried about the potential for fraud and people ripping you off. No one can help you get this money faster. Do not give your bank account information to anyone who tells you that they will help you get your money. They won’t. They are trying to steal from you. Go to IRS.gov for more information about scams.

How much money will I get?

Adults whose adjusted gross income is less than $75,000/year or couples who file together whose adjusted gross income is less than $150,000 will get $1,200 for each adult, plus $500 for each child under 17 who lives with you and depends on you.

For people with higher incomes, the amount of stimulus check goes down. If you make more than $99,000 or couples who make more than $198,000 will not get any stimulus money.

Who needs to file a tax return to get the stimulus money?

If you are required to file a tax return return (your gross income was above $12,200 or $24,400 for married couples), you can use a free tax preparation service such as IRS Free File or Turbo Tax to prepare and submit a tax return. Or you can file a paper income tax return or find a professional tax preparer through this directory. 

Remember, you have until July 15, 2020, to file a tax return. The EIP payments will be issued through December 2020.

When is the tax return filing deadline?

The 2019 tax filing deadline is now July 15, 2020.

Households with an income of $69,000 or less can use IRS FreeFile online.

If you miss the July 15 tax filing deadline for the stimulus check you can get the money as a tax credit when you file a 2020 tax return.

Who won’t get a check even if they file?

  • Dependents of other tax filers, and people who can be claimed as dependents of other tax filers. This includes most college students.

  • Immigrants without valid Social Security Numbers.

    • If anyone listed on your tax forms did not have a valid Social Security Number, you will not get a check.

When will I get the money?

The IRS says that it plans to start sending money by late-April, but it could take many weeks.

Where will the IRS send the money?

If your tax refund or Social Security benefits are direct deposited into your bank, the IRS will deposit the money to the same bank account. Otherwise, the IRS will mail it to the address listed on your most recent tax form or your Social Security benefit statement.

If you have moved recently, update your address by doing this:

  • File your 2019 tax return, if you haven’t already, or

  • File a change of address form (IRS form 8822). It may take the IRS four to six weeks to process your change of address, or

  • File an automatic extension (IRS form 4868) along with a change of address.

Can my stimulus check be taken from me because of a debt or overdrawn bank account?

Your stimulus check will not be subject to federal or state agency offset with one exception: unpaid child support. (If you think you owe child support or your stimulus check is taken for a child support debt, call your state Office of Child Support to find out more.)

However, Congress did not extend this exemption to private debt collection. If you get notice from a creditor or your bank that they are trying to get your stimulus check through “trustee process,” contact us. Learn more about frozen bank accounts. We can give you advice and may be able to represent you to argue that they should not be able to take your stimulus check.

Your bank may also be able to apply your stimulus check to pay overdraft charges and bank fees that you may owe. Call your bank to see if you owe any fees or charges and ask how they will handle this. If you ask your bank, they may return stimulus money that was taken from your account automatically. Contact us to let us know if they are taking your stimulus check. We can give you advice.

Will the stimulus check affect my benefits?

The stimulus money will not count as “income” and will not reduce your SSI, Reach Up, subsidized housing, Medicaid or 3SquaresVT (food stamps). The money also will not count as a “resource” as long as you spend it within a year.

Payments are coming in early June to SSI recipients who did not file income tax returns in 2018 or 2019. If I am a representative payee, what should I do with the money sent to the beneficiary?

The payment belongs to the beneficiary. It is not the same as benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA). As a representative payee, make a plan with the beneficiary for how they want to spend their payment. If the beneficiary wants to use their payment independently, then turn it over to the beneficiary. If the beneficiary wants your help with using the payment, then you can provide that assistance outside of your role as a representative payee. If the beneficiary receives Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, then the payee should help to make sure they have spent down the stimulus payment so that they are under the $2,000 resource limit within 12 months of getting the payment. Learn more on the National Center on Law and Elder Rights website.

I heard this is an “advance” on my 2020 taxes refund. Will I have to pay money back if my 2020 income is higher than last year?

No, the IRS is relying on information from your 2019 or 2018 forms. There is no penalty for getting a bigger advanced check than you were supposed to get. If your actual 2020 income and number of dependents means you should have gotten more money, the IRS will pay you the additional amount in 2021.

Will I be taxed on the stimulus check in any way?

No. The stimulus money will not count as “income.”

What should I do if I got a stimulus payment for someone who died?

If a stimulus payment was made to someone who died before getting the payment, it should be returned to the IRS. Follow these instructions to send it back. Return the entire payment unless the payment was made to joint filers and one spouse had not died before getting the payment. In that case, you only need to return the portion of the payment made on account of the person who died. This amount will be $1,200 unless your adjusted gross income exceeded $150,000. 

I have more questions about my situation. How can I get help?

Vermonters can contact us at the Vermont Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC) by filling out our form or calling 1-800-889-2047.

Updated: Oct 06, 2020