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COVID-19 Stimulus Check FAQs

COVID-19 Stimulus Check FAQs was written by Lone Star Legal Aid and Texas Legal Services Center and applies only to the COVID-19 stimulus payments.

Do I need a social security number to get a stimulus check?

Yes. Everyone must have a valid Social Security number in order to be eligible. If you file jointly with your spouse, both you and your spouse must have social security numbers. Your qualifying children must also have social security numbers. There is an exception for members of the military.

Which tax year is used to determine whether I qualify?

The government looks to your 2019 or 2020 tax return to decide what your income level is. If you did not file a 2019 tax return, you will need to file a 2020 tax return to obtain your payment. Individuals have until May, 17 2021 to file a 2020 tax return. Victims of the winter storms that began February 11, 2021 may have an additional extension until July 15, 2021. To determine if you qualify, please click here.

 

 

Do I qualify for a stimulus check and how much will I get?

Texas is now on its 3rd round of stimulus checks. According to the IRS:

"Due to new income limitations, some individuals won't be eligible for the third payment even if they received a first or second Economic Impact Payment or claimed a 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit.

Generally, someone is eligible for the full amount of the third Economic Impact Payment if they:

  • are a U.S. citizen or U.S. resident alien (and their spouse if filing a joint return), and
  • are not a dependent of another taxpayer and
  • their adjusted gross income (AGI) is not more than:
    • $150,000 if married and filing a joint return or if filing as a qualifying widow or widower
    • $112,500 if filing as head of household or
    • $75,000 for eligible individuals using any other filing status

Payments will be phased out – or reduced -- above those AGI amounts. This means people will not receive a payment if their AGI is at least:

  • $160,000 if married and filing a joint return or if filing as a qualifying widow or widower
  • $120,000 if filing as head of household
  • $80,000 for eligible individuals using any other filing status."

For more information on the 3rd round of stimulus checks, please click here.

 

How much will I get for a qualifying child?

For the third stimulus check, all your dependents qualify, regardless of age. This means that for each child or adult dependent you have, you can claim an additional $1,400. There is no limit on how many qualifying children you can claim.

Do I qualify for a stimulus check if I am a dependent?

Yes, dependents do qualify for a stimulus check. Eligible individuals will get a stimulus check based on all of the qualifying dependents claimed on their return, including older relatives for example, college students, adults with disabilities, parents, and grandparents.

 

Will I receive a stimulus check if I receive social security? Is there anything special I need to do?

If you receive Social Security benefits you are eligible to receive a stimulus check even if you do not file an income tax return. The IRS will use the information that the Social Security Administration (SSA) has on file to determine your eligibility. No other action is needed.

If you normally receive your social security benefits directly in your bank, you will receive the stimulus check the same way. Others will receive a check in the mail. SSA will not consider economic impact payments as income for SSI recipients, and the payments are excluded from resources for 12 months.

If you did not file a tax return for 2018, 2019 or 2020 and you have qualifying children under the age of 17, you should go to this IRSs webpage to enter your information so that you receive payment for yourself and qualifying children. By taking proactive steps to enter information on the IRS website about you and your qualifying children, you will also receive the $1,400 per dependent in addition to your $1,400 individual payment.

Will I receive a stimulus check if I pay child support or am in arrears?

If you are on the Treasury Offset list for owing child support arrears or if your child support payments are more than 90 days delinquent, your 1st stimulus check will probably be reduced by the amount you owe in child support. You should contact the Texas Attorney General Child Support Division in order to work out arrangements to resolve your debt. To find out if your name is on the Treasury Offset list call the toll-free IRS number at (800) 304-3107.

The 2nd and 3rd stimulus check will not be reduced if you are on the list for owing child support payments. You will still receive the full amount you are entitled to receive.

 

 

Will I receive a stimulus check if I owe back taxes?

There as not been an update by the IRS about back taxes and its impact on the 3rd round stimulus checks. For more information, please click here.

Will I receive a stimulus check if I’m behind on student loans?

Yes. Your stimulus check will not be affected if you are behind on student loan payments.

Will I have to pay taxes on the check or pay back the money if my 2020 tax filing is over a certain amount?

No. The stimulus checks are tax credits.

What if I did not file a 2019 or 2020 tax return?

The IRS has added a portal on their website to allow those who did not file a 2019 or 2020 tax return (and who are not required to) to provide their information for the stimulus check. Find it here.

How will I get the stimulus check payment?

There are three ways you can receive the stimulus payments: direct deposit, check, or prepaid card.

If the IRS has your bank account information from your 2018, 2019, or 2020 returns a direct deposit will be sent to that account. If you do not have direct deposit set up with the IRS, you will receive a check or prepaid card. On May 18, 2020, the U.S. Department of Treasury issued a press release stating it has begun to send nearly 4 million stimulus payments by prepaid card (EIP Card) instead of paper checks. You can access the full press release issued by the treasury by clicking here.

 

The EIP Stimulus Payment Prepaid Card: Not a Scam; How to Avoid Fees

Some people will receive a prepaid EIP Card intstead of a check. There will be some customer identification needed to activate the card so it can't be stolen from the mail and activated.

Click on this link for more information on how to use the card. Visit EIPcard.com to see the fee schedule, FAQs and more information.

The IRS has started sending letters to people telling them if they have an unactivated EIP card. If you receive this letter or believe you accidentally threw out the EIP card, call 1-800-240-8100. More information can be found by clicking here.

 

I need to check the status of my stimulus check payment.

You can check the status of your stimulus check payment by clicking here.

Why haven't I received a stimulus check?

The IRS may not have your information. Center on Budget and Policy Priorities issued a statement saying, "About 12 million Americans risk missing out on their stimulus payments because they must file a form by May 17, 2021 to receive it. To receive the payments this year, these individuals must provide their information to the IRS no later than May 17, 2021 through either a 2020 tax return or the IRS “Non-Filer” tool, a simplified online form for people not required to file a tax return." Click here to access the Non-Filer tool.

 

I received a stimulus check, but did not receive one for my dependent. What should I do?

Those who got the adult EIP ($1400/adult) for themselves due to receiving Social Security retirement, survivor or disability benefits, SSI (Supplemental Security Income) benefits, Railroad Retirement benefits, or VA (Veterans Affairs) Compensation and Pension (C&P) benefits (and did not file a tax return in 2019 or 2020 or file for an EIP for the child previously) can use the non-filer tool and request payment. You must apply by May 17th, 2021.