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IRS stimulus check: Can you get one and how to find the payment schedule

por Tyler Eastham (2020-08-10)

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As part of the 2020 stimulus package, you may be eligible for a payment from the federal government.

James Martin/CNET

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Although the IRS has already delivered more than 130 million economic payments, take heart If you're still waiting for your coronavirus stimulus check. We're here to tell you what you need to know about everything from determining if you're eligible to receive a relief payment of up to $1,200 to how much you meet the requirements to receive. 

We'll also show you how to find out:

What to do if you're usually exempt from filing taxes or receive federal benefits.

How to track your 2020 stimulus check if you don't see the money post in your bank account -- although some are experiencing problems with the IRS' Get My Payment tool.

What to do if someone in prison or who died qualifies for a check.

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The economic impact payment is considered a one-time deal to help people stay afloat during lockdown and to help prop up the economy, although some are wondering if the government will consider a second stimulus check in the future. 

In addition, here's more personal finance information on how you should spend the stimulus money, how to avoid COVID-19 scams, how coronavirus affects your rent payment and how else you can get financial relief during the coronavirus outbreak.

Now playing: Watch this: Where's my stimulus check?


Find the schedule for when you can expect your check

You can use the IRS Get My Payment to see a schedule for your payment. The US Postal Service also has a free service that can notify you when your check will arrive in the mail. You'll need to sign up for it. 

When will the checks be completely paid out?
The IRS said 150 million individuals qualify for a payment, and by the first week of May the federal revenue service said it had issued 130 million payments.

For those who expect to receive their payments through the mail, the IRS said it plans to sharply increase the number of paper checks it sends out through late May and into June. If you want to receive your payment straight to your bank through direct deposit, however, the deadline to provide your banking detailing in the IRS Get My Payment portal has passed. Those who had previously provided the IRS with their banking info can still receive their payment through direct deposit.

The Social Security Administration said Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients who didn't file a 2019 and 2018 return and who don't have a representative payee should receive their electronic payment from the IRS by May 13 by direct deposit or to their Direct Express card. For SSI recipients who receive their monthly SSI payment by paper check, the IRS will begin mailing their checks on May 15.

Here's what we know about tracking your stimulus payment. If you moved since the last time you filed your taxes, here's where you can update your address with the IRS.

Is the money yours, free and clear?
Yes. You don't have to pay taxes on any stimulus payment you receive from the IRS. It's also not an advance on your usual tax refund. If you get a check now, your 2019 tax refund won't be smaller as a result. You can spend the total of your stimulus money just like cash. The IRS will only reduce the payment to offset past-due child support.

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How much stimulus money you get depends on your taxes
The total amount of your stimulus check will be based on your adjusted gross income, or AGI, from your 2019 federal tax filing or -- if you haven't filed this year -- your 2018 filing.

If you've filed your 2019 federal tax return, you can find that figure on line 8b of the 2019 1040 federal tax form. It's line 7 on the 2018 1040 tax form. If you haven't filed this year, don't worry. The US government has delayed the due date for 2019 taxes to July 15 as a result of coronavirus.

Here's who is eligible for a stimulus payment
The amount you'll receive will depend on your total income in 2019 or 2018. If you qualify, you'll receive one payment. Here's who qualifies:

If you're a single US resident and have an adjusted gross income less than $99,000

If you file as the head of a household and earn under $146,500

If you file jointly without children and earn less than $198,000

Read on for how your payment is calculated and how much you can expect. You can also look at this calculator from the Washington Post.

The IRS said someone who died before receipt of the payment, a non-resident alien or someone who is incarcerated does not qualify for a check. These payments need to be returned if received, the IRS said.

Every little bit helps.

Angela Lang/CNET

How much you'll get as a single taxpayer

A single US resident must have a Social Security number and an AGI under $75,000 to receive the full amount of $1,200. The sum decreases as your AGI goes up. If your adjusted gross income reaches $99,000, you won't be eligible for the stimulus. 

Heads of household
If you file as head of a household, you will get the full $1,200 payment if your AGI is $112,500 or less, with the amount decreasing until you reach $146,500.

Couples filing jointly
Married couples filing jointly without children with an adjusted gross income below $150,000 will get a $2,400 payment, decreasing to zero at $198,000.

For children

For each child aged 16 or younger in the family, parents will get a payment of $500. Parents will not receive a payment for children born, adopted or placed into foster care in 2020 because the payment is based only on information from your 2019 or 2018 tax return. The IRS said you may claim the child next year for an additional credit on your 2020 tax return. Older children and other dependents may not be eligible for a payment.