The coronavirus pandemic is causing sweeping economic concerns across the country. Record numbers of people are filing for unemployment. Many who aren’t completely out of work are facing issues with lower-than-normal income. In late March 2020, the federal government passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security—CARES—Act to help provide some relief, and stimulus checks are part of that package.
What Are Coronavirus Stimulus Checks?
The stimulus checks are checks are for qualified individuals and families as part of the stimulus package. The CARES act and the related checks are meant to provide some financial relief to those who are struggling economically because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Who Will Get a Coronavirus Stimulus Check?
Not everyone is going to receive a stimulus check. Congress tied the checks to tax returns. Whether you get a check, and how much it is, depends on your income.
The most common way to have access to the stimulus relief, is to have filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return. If you didn’t file your 2018 or 2019 tax return, the IRS has a tool you can use to make sure you get your check, if you qualify for one.
How Much Are the Coronavirus Stimulus Checks?
Individual filers who make less than $75,000 in annual adjusted gross income will receive $1,200. Married filers who make less than $150,000 will receive $2,400. You will receive an additional $500 for every dependent under the age of 17 on your tax returns, assuming you meet the income threshold for the initial stimulus payment.
People who make over those amounts may still receive some money. The amount of the check goes down on a sliding scale. Anyone making more than $99,000 individually won’t receive a check. For married couples, that amount is $198,000.
Individuals who file as head of household get an additional break here. You can make up to $112,500 and still receive the $1,200.
What does this look like in real life? Consider this example: Let’s say you’re part of a married couple whose made $115,000 total in adjusted gross income in 2019. If you have two children, that means you’d receive $2,400 plus $500 for each child. So, in total, you’d receive $3,400 in your stimulus check.
Do You Need to Do Anything to Get a Check?
If you’re unsure on how to get your stimulus check, don’t worry—the IRS has an easy tool for you to use. Simply visit their Get My Payment Tool for more details. Just keep in mind that you might need your 2018 and 2019 return. If you didn’t file your 2019 return, the IRS has a tool that’ll ensure you get your stimulus check, if you qualify for one.
When Will Your Stimulus Check Arrive?
As of mid-April, some people were already receiving electronic deposits of their stimulus checks. If your bank account information was on file with the IRS because that’s how you received your tax refund in 2019, you’ll receive an electronic deposit. Otherwise, you’ll receive a paper check.
The federal government has not made any promises about when all payments will go out. Some estimates are that it will take through August before everyone receives their check. Reportedly, the IRS will begin issuing paper checks starting with people and families with the lowest incomes first.
Ideas for Using Your Stimulus Check
Many people are already talking about what they might do with their stimulus check. For many Americans, these checks are coming at a time when they’ll need to be used to pay necessary expenses such as rent, utility bills or groceries.
But for others, they are an extra bit of money that might be used in other ways. Depending on your circumstances, here are some ways you might use your stimulus check.
- Stretch it out to cover as many necessary expenses as possible by taking advantage of other relief, including mortgage relief options.
- Use it to pay down debt or get ahead on your budget to create a bigger buffer if you do experience a loss of income in the future.
- Put the money in a high-yield savings account until you need it.
Other Financial Relief Options
If you’re not getting a coronavirus stimulus check or it’s not going to be enough to make a difference, there are other options. Here are just a few to consider.
- Short-term loans. Many financial organizations offer small personal loans, typically up to $3,000. The loans may be an option even if you don’t have great credit.Many lenders have varying requirements that you may qualify for, and some lenders have made available programs to help people struggling financially during the pandemic. Contact your local bank to find out about these types of options.
- Relief from current lenders. Reach out to mortgage servicers, auto loan lenders and credit card companies. Many are offering to defer or modify loan terms, or waive certain fees for a short period of time or otherwise work with current customers who can’t make payments because of COVID-19-related income loss.
- File for unemployment.Expanded unemployment benefits during the pandemic make this an option for more people.
Whether it’s the best of times or the worst, knowledge is one of the most important things you can have when it comes to money. Educate yourself about financial options during COVID-19 with our COVID-19 financial resource guide.