Clarity on COVID-19 stimulus checks, how much you could get

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COLUMBUS (WCMH) — While the COVID-19 pandemic takes a toll on the economy, many Americans are poised to receive government relief.

A $2 trillion stimulus package signed by President Donald Trump Friday will give many Americans a direct cash payment. Additionally, there are more unemployment benefits and other help for individuals and businesses.

NBC4 spoke to Groveport- based Rebel Financial president Phil Ratliff and tax preparer Tony Jones to clarify what many of us can expect.

How much money will the stimulus checks provide?

A number of variables will affect the amount of money each person will receive from the stimulus package. The government will automatically base the amount on your adjusted gross income from your 2019 tax filings. If you have not filed yet, it will be based on your 2018 filing. Here are the general guidelines:

  • $1,200 for individuals who made less than $75,000, according to 2018 or 2019 taxes
  • $1,200 for individuals who made less than $112,500 and filed as
    “head of household”
  • $2,400 for couples who collectively made less than $150,000
    and filed jointly
  • Families can receive and additional $500 per child under the age of 17 years.
  • Find out how to calculate your cash payment here.

What if your income was higher?

If you earned more than those limits, you can still receive money. For individuals, you will receive $5 less for each $100 you earned beyond $75,000. You will not receive a check if you make more than $99,000.

What if you are on social security or did not file taxes in 2018 or 2019?

If you have a social security number, meet the income requirements and are not considered a dependent, you should qualify to receive a check. If you receive social security, retirement or disability benefits, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will have your financial information on file. You should have received an SSA-1099 for your 2019 taxes. People filing taxes for the first time may have to wait until the 2020 tax season, a year from now, and will be subject to the same guidelines.

What if you lost your job and/or income changed in 2020?

Although specifics are still pending from the Treasury Department, Rebel Financial says you will likely receive the aid check next year when you file your 2020 taxes, if your new gross adjusted income meets the requirements.

Will back taxes or overdue loan payments prohibit me from getting my check?

No. The stimulus package includes provisions allowing anyone who meets the income requirements to receive a check. Some lawmakers have suggested payments may be withheld from people who owe child support.

When will you receive your check?

Lawmakers originally said Americans can expect their checks within three weeks. Ratcliff explained it may be more realistic to see the money in 4-5 weeks if you meet the general criteria. It could take longer for individuals or families with more complicated situations.

How will you receive your check?

It will depend on how you received your tax refund in 2018 or 2019. If you opted for direct deposit, the IRS will directly deposit a cash payment. If it was mailed to you, check your mailbox in the next few weeks for the stimulus check.

Ratliff and Jones say the cash payments will help many families meet their immediate needs, while also pumping money into the American economy.

“The rest of us can use this to, first and foremost, make sure their families are safe. But to also inject
back in for some things we need in the economy… so after we get through this recession it’s not a deep one,” Ratliff said.

“People won’t have to withdraw money to live their life,” said Jones, who cautioned against dipping into retirement savings or opening a new loan to cover expenses incurred during the pandemic.

Although the stimulus provisions may include loan forgiveness, Ratliff added it should be a last resort.

“Don’t rob the piggy bank if you don’t have to,” he said. “Use the other things at your disposal first and that as an emergency really back-up, back-up plan.”

Both experts recommended consulting a professional if you need financial guidance.

The IRS says it will provide more resources and information here.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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