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Coronavirus | Economy & Business

Indy Q&A: What do I need to do to get a stimulus check?

Hundred dollar bills in cash. Photo by Philip Taylor via Flickr Creative Commons. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Am I eligible for the stimulus payment? When can I expect to receive the funds if I haven’t already? What if I pay taxes but do not have a Social Security number? 

Those were some of the questions that came up last week in a virtual town hall meeting hosted by Rep. Steven Horsford, Clark County Commission Chairwoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Congressional District Liaison Anabel Marquez.

When Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act in late March, the measure included what’s now referred to as the stimulus check, a one-time tax-free payment for families and individuals. Couples earning below $150,000 are paid $2,400 and an additional $500 per child and individuals are paid $1,200, with an additional $500 per child with the funds tapering off for individuals who earn more than $75,000 or couples that earn more than $150,000.

The purpose of the relief is to provide financial aid to people who are struggling to pay their bills amid furloughs and lay-offs across the country. 

Those eligible for the payment are U.S. citizens or residents who have filed taxes not as dependents and have valid Social Security numbers. The eligibility requirements notably exclude millions of taxpaying undocumented immigrants, and their spouses, from receiving any federal aid. 

Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen and Horsford and Rep. Dina Titus have all co-sponsored a bill that would extend economic protections to taxpaying undocumented immigrants and their families. The Coronavirus Immigrant Families Protection Act, introduced in early April in the House of Representatives and set to be introduced this week in the Senate, faces dim prospects without any Republican co-sponsors or supporters, though.

California became the first state to take additional measures to expand economic support when Gov. Gavin Newsom announced last week that $125 million will be provided for undocumented immigrants throughout the state, with a $500 one-time cash payment offered for individuals and a limit of $1000 per household. 

Meanwhile, taxpayers across the country began receiving their stimulus payment last week, while others are still waiting for the funds to help offset the financial damage caused by furloughs, job losses and a sudden downturn in the economy because of the coronavirus pandemic. Uncertainty about the timeline for reopening businesses and the comeback of the full economy make the disbursement of the stimulus payment an even more pressing issue. 

The process of disbursing the federal aid to individuals and families has not come without glitches, delays and concerns. Some Nevadans turned to the virtual town hall meeting for more clarity.

Below are some questions and answers from the meeting, which have been lightly edited for clarity. 

Will I still get a stimulus check if I owe back taxes to the IRS?

Anabel Marquez: The economic impact payment will be distributed to eligible Americans regardless of federal or state tax debt. So the answer is yes, you would still receive it. The only exception would be for child support debt. Then there is a possibility that the [stimulus] payment can be offset, but if you have a past due federal or state tax debt, the economic impact payment will not be interrupted but will not be offset to cover that particular debt.

If I receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI), will I still receive the stimulus check and if so, do you know when it will be?

Marquez: The answer is yes, you would still be eligible to receive an economic impact payment. The most recent tax returns filed in 2019, e-filed returns with direct deposit information — that would probably be safe to say that was the first wave of payments. 

Then we're going to go into checking out the 2018 returns or 2019 returns that have not been filed. Other eligible taxpayers who will be receiving payments, we're still expecting for these payments to go out in the next few days. 

Of course, there are tools available online so that if you are a non-filer because you receive nontaxable income — for example, Social Security benefits or disability benefits — you should go to the website and enter your information so that the IRS has your most up to date address and also your bank account information so that you can get those funds direct deposit.

My husband does his taxes with the ITIN (individual taxpayer identification number), but we file jointly. We're married, but me and my kids are citizens. Can we get the money or not? 

Marquez: That's a question that's come up repeatedly. Based on the statutory language in the CARES Act legislation, if you file a married filing joint return, all individuals on that return must have a valid Social Security number in order to qualify for the economic impact payment. 

Now the economic impact payment will eventually be reconciled in next year's returns as a refundable credit, which again, is non-taxable. So that means that if your husband's, or an ITIN holder's, situation changes in 2020 and they obtain a Social Security number, then that economic impact payment will be a refundable credit in next year's tax return.

Horsford: Also, I am a co-sponsor of the Coronavirus Immigrant Families Protection Act. This is a provision that would ensure direct payment assistance be extended to include those with individual tax identification numbers rather than limiting those payments to only those with Social Security numbers. This is something that I am trying to get included in the next package, CARES 2.0… 

I haven't gotten a tax refund for the last couple of years, I've only paid taxes. Is there any additional information I need to know about how I would get the check?

Marquez: Regarding taxpayers who don't generally get a refund but rather have to pay taxes each year — those taxpayers often wonder how am I going to get my economic impact payments if I had to pay taxes and therefore I didn't include my bank information on my return.

So in those cases you are encouraged to visit the IRS website and use the non filer tool to incorporate your information, your address and your banking account information. Once you do that, then you can wait about 24 hours to check the “get my payment” tool and see if your economic impact payment has been processed. 

However, if you did provide your banking information on your 2018 return, then that's where the funds will be directed. And if you don't visit the tool, what will happen is a paper check will then be mailed to the address on your return. So either way, taxpayers will receive those funds.

My sister receives Social Security benefits on a debit card. She does not do banking. Will the IRS send her money on her debit card?

Marquez: The IRS is not going to be depositing funds onto debit cards, but rather in those situations we're asking for those folks to once again use the non filer information tool online. But the information will be extracted in conjunction with the Social Security Administration to obtain those taxpayers’ addresses. 

So paper checks can be mailed to them if the direct deposit is not a possibility because we don't have a bank account or they don't use a bank.

I didn't file my 2018 nor 2019 tax. Am I eligible for my stimulus check?

Marquez: Taxpayers who have an obligation to file taxes because they earned up to the amount that is required for a tax filing — what the IRS is saying is that those folks are encouraged to file their tax return as soon as possible. 

Keep in mind that the tax deadline has been extended to July 15. Once we receive the information, if you're eligible for a tax refund, you'll receive your refund and you'll receive your economic impact payment.

Horsford: There is a service called the Vita Tax Service, it's a free tax service. We're actually launching that program on April 20. 

So if you call my office we can tell you where you can go or we can put you in touch with the resource that's available so that you can get connected to the service to help you file your taxes. That way you can get any refunds that are due to you as well as the economic impact payment.

I did get my stimulus check today, so thank you to the IRS for how quickly they were able to get those out. I have a daughter who turns 17 in October. So as a single parent filing head of household, she doesn't qualify for the stimulus. I only received the payment for myself, I didn't receive it for the dependent… Is there any way you can put something in the next round of stimulus payments to help single parents with older dependents to see if they can get help for that as well?

Marquez: The Treasury Department and the IRS worked together on that and determined that those eligibility requirements were going to be based on the child tax credit, [which] says that a dependent must be up to 17 years old to qualify. 

So we're administering that provision based on the legislation and what it specifies in terms of who would be eligible as a qualifying dependent. Any change to that would really be out of the IRS’ purview and it would be something that Congress would have … to change.

I'm a very low-income retired senior and there's a lot of us here at my complex. … Some of us don't have a computer, we don't have internet, we don't have access to fill out that tool to put our banking information in, even if we've been filing taxes, like I have, with the Nevada Partners over the last four or five or six years. How would we go about getting the banking information to the IRS so that that money could be deposited into our bank account?

Marquez: What I can say is that the IRS is continuously working on partnering up with external partners and stakeholders to help us with these populations, with folks like yourself who don't necessarily have internet access readily available. 

One thing I can say is we do have a telephone, a mobile app, and I know that there is a possibility for the IRS to at least get some information from taxpayers who are eligible for the economic impact payment via the telephone. This is still under development because there is only a limited amount of information that we can ask of taxpayers through a cell phone, considering the security concerns.

So what I can do is as soon as more information continues to come in and we have updates to resources available … I will make sure that this information is immediately forwarded to Congressman Horsford and he can then deliver this information to his constituents.

What is the name of the form that needs to be submitted to the IRS in order to get the economic impact statement? I haven't filed taxes in several years and receive Social Security income assistance. 

Marquez: If you are a Social Security recipient, all you have to do is pretty much wait for the economic impact payment to be sent to you. There's not much required from Social Security recipients because the IRS is working with the Social Security Administration to obtain information from your file, that way we know where to send the economic impact payment. We're asking people to be patient … You don't have to do anything.

Is the timing for Social Security recipients different than those who were under the IRS direct deposit or are they all kind of around the same timeline? Is there a different date for them?

Marquez: Yes. Recipients of Supplemental Social Security income, for example — payments for this group will go out no later than early May. The agencies started looking at the most recently filed returns, which would be the 2019 (tax) returns, and those … could be considered the first wave of economic impact payment recipients. We do expect that folks who receive Social Security benefits will be receiving these payments in the next few days or weeks. 

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