COVID-19 Coronavirus Economic Impact Payments / Stimulus Checks

Updated 1/15/2021 9:30 a.m.

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.

Video: Second Round of COVID Economic Impact Payments/Stimulus Checks. Watch the video on Facebook. Attorney Zachary Lees of Vermont Legal Aid's Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic discussed who is eligible to get the stimulus payments and how they will be sent out. He also answered COVID-related tax questions.

Second Round of Stimulus Money – from the CRRSA Act

On December 27, 2020, the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSA Act) was signed into law. It calls for sending a second round of stimulus checks (called Economic Impact Payments - EIP) to Americans. The IRS will send out the money.

We will update this web page as we learn new information about the payments.

Questions & Answers About the Second Round of Stimulus Money:

How much money will I get?

  • Adults whose modified adjusted gross income is less than $75,000/year (or couples who file together whose modified adjusted gross income is less than $150,000) will get $600 for each adult, plus $600 for each child under 17 who lives with you and depends on you. This applies to heads of households who make less than $112,500, as well.
  • For people with higher incomes, the amount of stimulus check goes down at a rate of $5 per $100 of additional income.
  • To figure your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI), look at your recent federal tax return. MAGI is your adjusted gross income (AGI) from your tax return, plus foreign income, plus tax-exempt interest, plus non-taxable Social Security benefits. For most people, MAGI is the same as AGI.

How do I get it?

  • The stimulus payments will be processed by the IRS.
  • If you have already filed a 2019 tax return, you will get the stimulus payment automatically. You will receive it in the same form as your tax refund. If you requested direct deposit, then the stimulus will be direct deposited. If you requested a paper check, then the stimulus will be mailed to the same address on your 2019 tax return.
  • If you entered your information into the IRS non-filer portal earlier in 2020, you will get the stimulus payment automatically. You do not have to do anything.
  • If you receive one of the following benefits, you will get the stimulus payment automatically. You do not have to do anything.
    • Social Security
    • Social Security Disability (SSDI)
    • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
    • Veterans Affairs (VA)
    • Railroad Retirement
  • Note: Instead of a check, some people will get a debit card mailed to them in a white envelope. The envelope has the U.S. Department of the Treasury seal on it. See this factsheet to learn what the debit card looks like and how to use it.

How do I check on my payment(s)?

Use the IRS "Get My Payment" tool to check on the status of your Economic Impact Payments. It will let you know when the IRS is depositing your payment or mailing it. Information is updated every night.

See this IRS announcement to learn more about the Get My Payment tool and the information it gives you.

When should I get my payment?

The IRS was given hard and fast deadlines to send the two rounds of Economic Impact Payments out to American families. The first round of payments had to be sent out by December 31, 2020. The second round had to be sent out by January 15, 2021.

What this means: If you have not received the first or second round of payments as of January 15, then you will not be getting them in advance. The good news is that you can still do something to get these payments. Read below.

What can I do if I have not received my EIP money by those deadlines?

If you have not received all or some portion of your Economic Impact Payments (whether your own payment or those for your dependents under age 17) by the deadlines above, you will have to file a 2020 tax return (Form 1040) and claim these amounts. You claim them on line 30 of the 2020 Form 1040 as a "recovery rebate". This is another name for the EIP stimulus payments. If you did not get all or a portion of the EIP payments in advance, then you can claim them on line 30 of your tax return for 2020.

How do I get help filing a 2020 tax return to claim my EIP?

The IRS recommends electronic filing, and we agree. It is a faster, more secure option. Paper forms will take much longer to be processed by IRS. You may qualify for free e-file software.

You can also call the Vermont 2-1-1 hotline and follow the menu options for tax preparation. Through this service you may be able to schedule an appointment with a free Volunteer Income Tax Preparation Assistance (VITA) site. These sites are staffed by trained volunteers. They provide free preparation services to taxpayers who meet eligibility requirements.

Also, you can find Form 1040 and Form 1040 instructions on the IRS website. The instructions for the "recovery rebate" are found on pages 57 - 59.

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. 

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

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

Can my stimulus check be taken from me to pay a debt?

No. These payments will not be subject to garnishment or levy by private creditors or debt collectors.

Can a nursing home or assisted living facility take the payment from me?

No. If you qualify for a payment, it’s yours to keep. If a loved one qualifies and lives in a nursing home, residential care home or assisted living facility, it’s theirs to keep. The facility may not put their hands on it or require somebody to sign it over to them. Even if that somebody is on Medicaid.

What about people with ITINs?

You still need a work-authorizing Social Security Number (SSN) to be eligible for this stimulus. However, there are important changes in this second round of stimulus checks.

  • In the prior stimulus rollout, any non-SSN holder on a joint return made everyone on that return (even SSN holders) ineligible. Big change: This new round of stimulus has corrected this problem. If you filed a joint return with a non-SSN holder, you are still eligible for the stimulus. See the below hypotheticals.
    • Situation: A single tax filer has an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) but no Social Security number (SSN).
      • This person is ineligible for the stimulus.
    • Situation: A spouse has a Social Security number (SSN) and files “married filing jointly” on a 2019 tax return with a spouse who has an ITIN.
      • The SSN holder is now eligible to get a payment. If they have children on the tax return that have SSNs, these children will be eligible for the $600 for each qualifying child.
    • Situation: Two ITIN holders file a joint return and claim young children who have SSNs.
      • No one is eligible for the stimulus, because there needs to be at least one eligible adult filer on the joint return.
  • A retroactive change: When the CARES Act was passed in March 2020, any SSN holders who were filed on a joint return with an ITIN holder were ineligible for the $1,200 per person and $500 per child. However, this new legislation changes that section of the CARES Act. Now that family would be eligible for the CARES Act payments. We’re still learning how these payments will be made. But if you don’t see one before January 30, you should assume that you will have to file your 2020 tax return and claim the Cares Act EIP credit on that return. 

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: Jan 15, 2021