CORONAVIRUS

Coronavirus US: Economic stimulus checks – who qualifies for them and who doesn’t?

The US government’s Inland Revenue Service started issuing economic stimulus checks last week but who qualifies to receive them and who doesn’t?

Coronavirus US: Economic stimulus checks – who qualifies for them and who doesn’t?
JOHN MOORE AFP

The US government’s Inland Revenue Service (IRS) sent out the first wave of paper stimulus checks last week to alleviate some of the financial strain for those who have been affected by the downturn in the economy due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Millions of tax-paying Americans will receive checks of up to 1,200 dollars - either physical paper checks or direct deposits into their bank account to help them through hardship during the crisis. Close to a million people have tested positive for Covid-19 in the United States alone – almost half the global total.

Some people do not qualify to receive benefits

However, not everyone will be fortunate to receive financial help from the government. While approximately 90% of American citizens are eligible for benefits, there is a small sector who do not qualify under the terms of the 2.2 billion dollar stimulus package.

According to US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the stimulus checks will be distributed to those who meet the following criteria:

  • A maximum of 1200 dollars to workers who earn less than 75,000 dollars per year and who are fully up to date with their tax declarations
  • A maximum of 2400 dollars for married couples - plus an additional 500 dollars for each dependent child under the age of 17 within the family

Who doesn’t qualify for stimulus checks?

Dependents

  • Anyone over the age of 17 who is financially dependent on a family member or another person, is not eligible to receive a government stimulus check.
  • Anyone whose gross (pre-tax) annual salary exceeds 99,000 dollars is not eligible to receive a government stimulus check.
  • Childless couples who have a combined annual income of 136,000 dollars or more does not qualify.

Those who are not registered or up-to-date with tax payments

  • Anyone who does not have a valid, up-to-date Social Security number is not eligible to receive a government stimulus check.
  • Anyone who failed to file a tax declaration for the fiscal years 2018 and 2019 cannot apply for a stimulus check.

The government also made it clear that anyone who didn’t declare income and tax during 2018 or 2019, or has outstanding tax discrepancies, will not be able to receive a stimulus check.

Undocumented illegal aliens

Also excluded from the government’s economic stimulus plan are those who do not possess the required authorisation and relevant documentation to be able to work in the United States such as a permanent resident card, an alien registration receipt card or ‘Green Card’.