Coronavirus

US stimulus check payment eligibility: Who is eligible and who isn't?

The Internal Revenue Service is sending out stimulus payments both by mail and direct deposit. Find out if you meet the requirements for a payment during pandemic.

US stimulus check payment eligibility: Who is eligible and who isn't?
CHIP SOMODEVILLA AFP

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) continues to send out $1,200 stimulus payments. As of last week the IRS had sent out $122 million in payments and they expect to mail as many as 5 million paper checks a week until everyone eligible who hasn't yet set up a direct deposit with the federal revenue service has received theirs.

Even though the IRS said 5 May was the due date to sign up to receive the payment there is still time to fill out the direct deposit form. The IRS has explained that if you add your electronic-transfer details in the ‘Get My Payment’ before the due date, you should see your payment date in the portal the following Saturday.

The United States Postal Service (USPS) also has set up a free service online to track your stimulus check if you didn’t qualify to receive it by direct deposit. While millions of Americans are still waiting for their payment to arrive, there is also a major part of the country that is ineligible to receive money from the government as part of the coronavirus stimulus plan.

Who is eligible for stimulus checks?

In principle anyone who is a US citizen is eligible for the stimulus check, provided they meet the earnings limits, including citizens living outside the country.

Stimulus check earnings limits

In order to be elegible for the stimulus check you need to earn under the thresholds. These are based on your earnings as declared on your tax return (adjusted gross income). To qualify for the full amount you need to have earned

- $75,000 or less as an individual

- $112,000 for head of household filers

- $150,000 for married couples filing joint returns.

Above that level the amounts are reduced by $5 for every income above the limits, meaning there is no payment for individuals earning above $99,000, head of households earning about $136,500 and married couples filing jointly above $198,000.

The earnings used for the calculation are those from the 2019 tax return if filed, or 2018 if 2019 has not yet been filed.

If you file a tax return the payment will be made automatically. Remember, the tax stimulus payment is not taxable and does not have to be paid back.

Other reasons for not being eligible for the stimulus check payment

Parents who owe child support may have that stimulus money offset to pay off their debts. The Treasury Offset Program is a program that collects federal and state debt. If the program has a debt record for someone who otherwise qualifies for the coronavirus stimulus money, it will step in and offset that money.

If you are a Senior Citizen who is claimed as a dependent on your children's tax return, you would fall under the same exclusion as the college students. Adults who received disability benefits from Social Security Administration or Veterans Affairs will be eligible for the stimulus checks. However, disabled adults who are claimed as dependents on someone else's tax return will not receive the checks.

You do not have to be a U.S. citizen to receive a stimulus check. However, you do need a social security number. The IRS makes it clear that you are not eligible for a stimulus check if do not have a valid social security number or are a nonresident alien.

Immigrants with green cards and certain work visas will get the checks.

Note that because the checks are based on 2018 or 2019 tax returns, couples who have recently split up may face difficulties in receiving the payment, where deposits are made to the bank account associated with the tax return.

See also