Your questions about stimulus checks keep coming! Last month, I wrote a primer on stimulus checks to answer some of your basic questions - and I've been updating it. I added another piece to tackle some of the most commonly asked questions in a follow-up article. I'm still fielding questions about ITINs, children, child support, direct deposit, and more. Here's what you've been asking - along with my answers - regarding those tax stimulus checks.
How big will my check be? Checks will be $1,200 per adult - or $2,400 for married couples filing jointly - and an additional $500 per child.
Are there income limits on checks? Checks begin to phaseout for those earning more than $75,000 ($150,000 for joint returns and $112,500 for heads of household) and are subject to phaseouts (more on those here). This is adjusted gross income (AGI), not taxable income - so, before your standard or itemized deductions.
Today In: TaxesCan I get a check for my kids if I'm over the limits? Yes, but those amounts are also subject to the phaseout. For every $100 of income above those thresholds, your check will drop by $5. That means that the threshold amounts increase by $10,000 for each additional qualifying child ($500/5 = $100 and $100 x 100 = $10,000). For example, if you have one qualifying child, your payment will phase out completely (meaning that you'll get nothing) once you hit $109,000 as a single/MFS filer, $208,000 as a married couple filing jointly, or $146,500 for heads of household.
Are there limits on the number of kids? There are no limits on the number of children that qualify. The definition of a child will be the same as for the child tax credit (you'll find the age and other requirements at that link).
Does that include foster children and adopted children? Absolutely. However, if your newly adopted child doesn't have a Social Security Number (SSN), you will need to have an Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number (ATIN).
I had a kid in 2020. Will I get a check for my child in 2020? Not in 2020 since the IRS doesn't know about your new delivery. But you will be able to adjust to account for the new baby when you file your 2020 return in 2021.
I know that I have to have a valid SSN to get a check. But what if my spouse only has an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)? Am I left out? If you file together, yes: both spouses must have valid SSNs (meaning valid for employment) to get a check. If, however, one of you is a member of the military, the rule doesn't apply: only one spouse needs to have a valid SSN.
If my spouse has an ITIN, does that mean that I can't get my check if I file separately from my spouse? No. If you have an SSN and file separately, you may qualify for a check.
If I have a valid SSN, but I live in another country, can I get a check? Yes.
What if I live in Puerto Rico or another U.S. territory? Maybe. Special rules may apply to folks in those territories. Contact your local tax authority for more information.
You wrote that I couldn't get a check for my child who is in college because of his age, even though I claimed him as a dependent. He works. Can he get his own check? Not if your child is a dependent (you can read more here). There is a suggested fix in the works to change this, but I don't know if it's going to happen in time.
Do I have to pay it back? I read that somewhere that it's an advance and I do have to pay it back? Or that it will reduce my refund? You will not have to pay it back. It is an advance, but it's an advance of a new, temporary credit for 2020. It will not affect your "normal" refund in 2020. You can read more about how it works - with an example - here.
Are you sure? What if I got a check for my child who will be over the age of 16 next year? Math error in your favor. You don't have to pay it back.
My income is going to be higher in 2020, but I got my check based on my 2019 income, which was lower. Do I have to pay it back? Again, there is no clawback provision in the law, so it should be treated as a math error in your favor. You don't have to pay it back.
I know that you said offsets only apply to child support, but will my check be seized because of my spouse's child support arrears? Maybe. However, if you file jointly and you usually file an injured spouse claim and did so with your 2018 or 2019 tax return, your share of the check should be sent to you (your spouse's payment will still be offset).
What about if I am on an installment plan? Same result: the law says no offsets for existing federal tax debts (other than child support). But the IRS will not send checks to accounts used to make an installment payment to the IRS. You'll need to update your information with the Get My Payment tool.
How can I change my bank account information? You'll find more on that here.
How can I change my mailing address? If you haven't filed your 2019 tax return, just update your new address on your tax return when you file. Otherwise, try updating through the United States Postal Service (USPS).
As a senior citizen, my only source of income is Social Security benefits, so I haven't filed taxes for 2018 or 2019. I read that to receive the stimulus money, I must file 2019 taxes. Is that true? No. You can find more details here.
What about SSDI, SSI, or VA benefits? According to the IRS, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) recipients don't need to take additional action: your check will be direct deposited (or you'll get a paper check) just as you'd typically get your benefits. Ditto for SSI recipients can now receive checks automatically and vets.
What about Social Security, Railroad retirees, SSI, SSDI or VA beneficiaries who have qualifying children? Those folks need to take one more step - and a deadline may affect your payment (more here).
Is my check taxable? No. This is not taxable income.
Are you sure it's not taxable? What about messing up my benefits? Or my FAFSA? Yep, sure it's not taxable. It won't boost your income and won't affect your benefits.
I've read that some checks won't be available until September. How is that possible? Taxpayers who have direct deposit information on file will receive their checks first. Of course, not all taxpayers have current direct deposit information on file, so the IRS plans to develop a web-based portal for those individuals to provide their banking information online - but that portal is not up and running yet. If the IRS mails out paper checks, those take longer to process. You can read more here.
Can I get my check faster if I pay for it? No, that's a scam. You can find out more about scams and hoaxes related to stimulus checks here.
Can I call the IRS and ask questions? The IRS asks that you not call.
I have more questions. How can I ask? I'm happy to answer your questions: here's how to ask. I've also written a bunch of pieces addressing some of the most commonly asked questions. If you have questions, check out some of these articles.
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Kelly Phillips ErbYears ago, I found myself sitting in law school in Moot Court wearing an oversized itchy blue suit. It was a horrible experience. In a desperate attempt to avoid anything