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Government’s Stimulus Checks

information about eligibility for the government’s stimulus checks. Here’s what we are being told:

People on Social Security Don’t Need to Rush to File a Tax Return for Previous Years

The IRS has figured out that people whose only income is Social Security often don’t file tax returns but are still easily identifiable. The Federal Government knows who you are because they send you those Social Security checks or direct deposits.

The announcement from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is that: “Social Security recipients who are not typically required to file a tax return need to take no action, and will receive their payment directly to their bank account.” That’s good news for about 15 million Americans and many of our clients.

Dependents Over the Age of 16 are Ineligible For the Stimulus Money

There was some bad news though. The IRS has confirmed that under the CARES Act, no dependent over the age of 16 will receive a check. So, if you have a 17 or 18-year-old child as a dependent, you will not receive the $500 you would otherwise get for a child. The same is true if that dependent is a 21-year-old college student or your elderly mother. If they are over 16 and were claimed as a dependent on someone’s tax return, they are ineligible.

Direct Deposits of Stimulus Money Will Happen as Early as April 17th

According to the National Taxpayers Foundation, about 60% of tax return filers gave the IRS bank information. If you still have the same bank account as when you filed your 2018 or 2019 taxes, your stimulus money will be direct deposited into that account, supposedly beginning around April 17th. The IRS will be setting up an online portal to update bank account information, but there are no details on when that will be available. Stay tuned.

If you did not provide bank account information to the IRS with a tax return (and they don’t know your bank account information from sending you Social Security checks), printed checks will be mailed after April 17th. There is no word yet on how long it will take to get them all mailed out, just that they will start mailing them after they do the direct deposits. 

You will only receive a check if you filed a tax return in 2018 or 2019, or if you receive Social Security benefits (specifically if you receive a SSA-1099) and are income eligible.  

In other words, with the exception of certain Social Security recipients, you will need to file a 2018 or 2019 tax return if you have not done so to get your check. If you have too little income to pay taxes you may file for free to get your information into the system. Veterans are eligible for the stimulus payment but will need to file a tax return.

What Should you Do with the Money?

We’ve gotten calls from clients and prospective clients wondering how best to use this money. Here’s our advice:

1. Use it for groceries. Take care of yourself and your family by buying essentials like groceries and medications.

2. Use it for rent or mortgage payments. There is a moratorium right now on evictions and foreclosures in many places but it will not last long. And, the first day they can, some landlords and mortgage companies will rush to evict, or foreclose on homes. Please don’t be lulled into a false sense of security right now. Even if your mortgage holder has said you don’t need to pay mortgage for 90 days (loans backed by the Federal Government generally have that rule right now), the problem is … what happens on Day 91? Many lenders will be requiring all 3 months of deferred payments to be paid on Day 91 (along with that month’s mortgage). Who is going to have 4 months of mortgage payments lying around in July? 

3. Save the money. None of us know how long this crisis will last. Don’t put your hopes on another government bailout. There may be one coming, but it probably won’t be enough. It’s never enough. Be frugal. Save what you can. Every dollar saved will help you as this crisis continues.

When will you receive a check? 

We’re not sure yet. The Treasury Department has stated that checks may go out as soon as mid- or late April. In previous programs like this one, it took a few months for all the checks to go out, so it may not be until later in the Spring or early Summer before they arrive. 

 In an effort to speed up the payment process, the Treasury Department has indicated that they will create a website allowing individuals who have not previously provided their direct deposit information to do so. Visit the IRS coronavirus relief site for more information, as well as the IRS economic payment FAQ site: 

This is a new world for lawyers too and the rules are changing daily. As you can imagine, our phones are busier than usual as we are helping a lot of people facing new challenges with their finances either by filing a claim or by completing an estate plan. Please be patient with us. As always, the best way to reach us is by email ([email protected]).

Stay safe out there and let us know how you are doing. We would love to hear from you even if it’s just to say – “I’m ok”.

Wishing you the best,

Francis and Alexandra Jackson and all the team here at Jackson & MacNichol

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