April 2, 2020 UPDATE:
Treasury Reverses Stance on Stimulus Payments for Non-Filers
On the evening of Wednesday, April 1, the U.S. Treasury Department said Social Security beneficiaries who are not typically required to file tax returns will not need to file in order to receive their $1,200 stimulus payments. Instead, payments will be automatically deposited into their bank accounts. An earlier communication from the IRS said they would need to file some type of tax return in order to get the payments
March 31, 2020
It’s the ONE question nearly all Social Security recipients are asking: “Will I get a Coronavirus stimulus check? If yes, do I get one even if I haven’t filed a tax return in recent years?” The answers are YES and YES!
The “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act” (CARES Act) passed by Congress provides for substantial stabilization of America’s economy during the unprecedented medical crisis now sweeping the country. The Act provides critically needed funding in key areas like expanded unemployment benefits and specific aid to many business segments facing extraordinary disruption, along with financial relief payments to most Americans, subject to income guidelines below.
Under the Act’s provisions, Americans having a valid Social Security number will receive direct cash assistance, specifically including those who receive welfare and/or Social Security benefits. Relief payments will be $1,200 for individuals, $2,400 for couples, and $500 per child, for individuals with incomes at or below $75,000 ($112,500 for heads of household) and couples with income at or below $150,000.
The procedural details on how the approved payments will get into the hands of recipients are still being finalized, but these are the general elements:
- According to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, most payments should be in the hands of recipients within three weeks
- Eligibility for cash payments is based on income as reported in your most recent income tax return (note: adjusted gross income is the figure used)
- If you did not file tax returns and are receiving Social Security payments, the IRS can use your Form SSA-1099 Social Security Benefit Statement or your Form RRB-1099 Social Security Equivalent Benefit Statement to send your check
- If you have received a tax refund in the last two years by direct deposit, that’s where your money will be sent. If not, the IRS will mail a check to your “last known address”
- The IRS will mail a notice confirming distribution of your payment, along with IRS contact information if you haven’t actually received the confirmed payment
- You do not need to do anything in advance. For many recipients, the IRS has your banking information and will likely execute direct transfers to your account
AMAC’s sister organization, The AMAC Foundation, updates a site five days a week entitled The Social Security Report. For the absolute latest daily information on this vital program, visit www.socialsecurityreport.org. Many of this week’s headline and latest news posts on The Social Security Report deal specifically with The CARES Act (Stimulus Bill), and those seeking more detailed information will find it a valuable resource.
But to reiterate, YES, Social Security recipients are eligible and need do nothing at all to receive their $1,200 per person relief payments due them. If you are required to file a tax form, it is likely that having done so already may speed up delivery of the payment.
Things are moving fast at the IRS, especially in the wake of the CARES Act signed into law last Friday. As the agency scrambles to put the mechanisms in place that will deliver the economic impact payments to Americans, new procedural announcements are hitting the airwaves at an accelerated pace.
In its most recent informational release on the impact payments, the rules for those who may not be on record with the agency to receive payments electronically have been clarified. As explained in IRS Bulletin IR-2020-61, “People who typically do not file a tax return will need to file a simple tax return to receive an economic impact payment.”
In other words, those with income levels that did not meet the threshold for filing tax returns in 2018 and/or 2019, those who filed without providing online banking information, and some veterans and some individuals with disabilities, will still need to register their banking information with the IRS in order to receive online payments.
If you happen to be in this category, don’t worry. The IRS has indicated they’ll be issuing directions on how to complete and file a simple return conveying their filing status, number of dependents, and direct deposit banking information to enable direct online payments. Also, they’ve indicated that they will soon deploy a “web-based portal” for people to submit the information needed for online payments.
Confirming previous news accounts, the IRS reports that the vast majority of payment recipients will not need to take any specific action. For these folks, the information in their 2019 income tax returns will be used. If a 2019 return has not yet been filed, they are urging folks to file as quickly as possible; otherwise, the data on their 2018 return will be used for payments.
AMAC will continue to stay abreast of this issue as instructions are released via the IRS.gov/Coronavirus website.