Coronavirus Stimulus Checks

Where's my second stimulus check? Required information to apply

The stimulus bill situation is changing rapidly it seems as 2020 draws to a close; here's a rundown of what we know about eligibility for a second check.

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Where's my second stimulus check? required information to apply
Samuel Corum AFP

A stimulus check of at least $600 for those in the lowest income bracket is now almost a certainty since Donald Trump broke his nearly week-long delay on Sunday and signed the new $900bn bipartisan bill into law. There’s a chance that a second bill which passed in the House last night could increase the maximum amount for each qualifying American to $2,000.

Eligibility requirements for the second stimulus check

The income eligibility requirements for the second round of stimulus checks - officially known as Economic Impact Payments - will be very similar to those used in the CARES Act.

The full amount will again go to individuals with a gross annual income of up to $75,000, while joint filers on under $150,000 will get a shared $1,200. However, whereas the CARES Act gave a steadily decreasing amount to those earning up to $99,000 ($198,000 for couples), the maximum phase-out limit this time around is down to $87,000 ($174,000).

The earnings declared in people's 2019 tax returns will be used to determine their eligibility.

Those who did not submit a return for last year because their income was too low are expected to be able to claim their check through the Non-Filers tool on the Internal Revenue Service’s website. If you used this portal to register for the first stimulus check, you should receive the new direct payment automatically.

According to AARP, meanwhile, those who receive the following federal benefits should also get their stimulus check without having to take any action: Social Security Old-Age retirement; Survivors or Disability Insurance; Supplemental Security Income; Railroad Retirement Board; and Veterans Administration.

What is included this time that was excluded from CARES Act?

Among those who were ineligible for the CARES Act checks but will be included in the second round are people who have a Social Security number but file jointly with someone who doesn’t. They will also be able to claim money for child dependents who belong to that household (as long as they also have a Social Security number).

Incarcerated Americans were also left out of the previous check, but will qualify for payment under the terms of the relief bill passed this week.

One eligibility change that did not come about was the inclusion of dependents aged 17 and over, despite reports in the US media that this might happen. According to the Tax Foundation, the removal of the age limit on dependents would have made as many as 26 million more Americans eligible for the credit.

Certain college students could also now be included in the stimulus check eligibility. Depending upon whether they meet the qualification criteria, some college students could potentially be looking at up to $1,800 in relief money.

Cnet have compiled a more comprehensive list of who is and isn’t eligible for the second stimulus check.

How to claim second stimulus check through IRS portal

Even though the possibility of a higher total amount currently hangs in the balance, when the terms are finally set in stone, the process will be much the same as last time, and the good news is that if you have already claimed the first stimulus check, you shouldn't have to even claim for the second one. In addition, if you qualify and your banking and mailing information are correct, the stimulus payment will be sent to you automatically either by direct deposit or check. The IRS will continue to use its “Get My Payment” tool for tracking purposes

The IRS’ tracking tool is called Get My Payment, but is currently offline, pending further information on the changing situation in Congress regarding a second stimulus check. The tool can usually be used to track payments for both filers of tax returns and non-filers. The holding message on the site states:

“The IRS continues to monitor and prepare for new legislation related to Economic Impact Payments. The IRS will make updates to the Get My Payment portal to provide updated information for taxpayers in the near future. Please continue to monitor IRS.gov for the latest information.”

The Frequently Asked Questions page also includes information on how to claim payments missed from the first round of stimulus checks, or amounts not fully realised as well as how to manage various error messages on the tracker.

How to claim second stimulus check if I don't file tax returns

On the IRS non-filers tool page, it explains that if last time youused the Non-Filers tool to register for an Economic Impact Payment (stimulus check), "you must complete and print a paper 2019 Form 1040 or 1040-SR tax return, write “Amended EIP Return” at the top, and mail it to the IRS."

It also goes on to explain that "if you did not file a 2019 or 2018 tax return or register for a payment using the Non-Filers tool, you may be eligible to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit when you file your 2020 tax return.

The IRS urges taxpayers to visit IRS.gov – the official IRS website – to protect against scam artists. The IRS has issued a warning about coronavirus-related scams.

When can I expect my second stimulus check?

Although it appears the landscape keeps shifting with regards to the amount of stimulus each qualifying individual will receive, one thing’s for certain, something has to be in the post by 15 January.

Included in the $900bn bipartisan bill, that was approved by Congress and signed into law by president Trump, is a deadline of 15 January 2021 by which time the IRS and US Treasury must stop sending checks as part of this round of delivery.

If you don't receive your full second stimulus check  by 15 January, you will need to claim all or part of the missing amount when you file your federal tax returns in 2021. You will also be able to claim any money the IRS still owes you from the first round of payments sent out earlier in 2020.

Lower chamber passes $2,000 stimulus checks

The Democratic-led House of Representatives voted 275-134 to meet President Trump's demand for $2,000 relief checks on Monday, sending the measure on to an uncertain future in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Trump last week threatened to block massive pandemic aid  and spending package if Congress did not boost stimulus payments from $600 to $2,000 and cut other spending. He backed down from his demands on Sunday as a possible government shutdown brought on by the fight with lawmakers loomed.

The bill not only strikes off '$600' from the previous one and replacing it with '$2,000' also includes provisions for overriding Trump's veto of the annual defence-policy bill.