What is a stimulus check? How do I get it? What if my address or bank account changed?
- The Stimulus Check
- How to determine my Stimulus Check amount
- Forms of Payment From the IRS
- What if my Bank Account information has changed
- What if my Address has changed
- How do I determine the Status of my Stimulus Check
A second round of the Stimulus Check, formally known as the Economic Impact Payment, will be heading to your bank account soon. However, the amount isn’t the only thing that has changed. The biggest questions surrounding the stimulus payments are:
- What is it?
- How do I get mine?
- What if my information has changed? Can the IRS find me?
The Stimulus Check
The stimulus check is a refundable credit of income taxes that Congress voted to send each qualifying family, therefore aiding in some of the financial burden that anyone experienced during the pandemic. In 2020 this amounted to $1,200 per qualifying individual and $500 per dependent. In 2021 this amounts to $600 per individual. A credit is an IRS term used to describe a reduction in the amount of taxes that you owe to the IRS each year, resulting in a happier wallet. If the credit is refundable then your tax liability would be reduced to $0, and any remaining credit would be issued to you in the form of cash or check.
So, Congress essentially decided to send Americans their refundable credit early, in the form of cash. What this means for your tax return is that you will not receive a credit against the tax liability that you owe for 2020 or 2021.
Here’s an example: Jeremy and Kristine are married with 1 child. They filed for an extension on their 2019 tax return so the IRS had to revert to their 2018 tax return. The IRS found that the Adjusted Gross Income on their 2018 tax return was lower than the threshold for the stimulus payment, a refundable credit, and they sent the family a total of $2,900. ($1,200 x 2 individuals + $500 for 1 dependant)
How to determine my Stimulus Check amount
The amount of the stimulus check in 2020 was $1,200 per individual, however, there was a threshold for individuals, or married couples, that made a certain amount of money on their most recent tax return. The threshold remains for the 2021 stimulus payment. Here is a breakdown of that threshold:
|Unmarried Taxpayers (and Married Filing Separately)||$75,000|
|Head of Household||$112,500|
|Married Taxpayers Filing Joint||$150,000|
Filing Status Threshold for the Stimulus Check
Recall that AGI stands for “Adjusted Gross Income.” You can find this amount on your Form 1040, also known as an individual’s federal tax return, by finding the amount on line 7 of page 2. The filing status is somewhat similar to your relationship status on Facebook. If you are married then you will likely be filing “Married Filing Jointly.” If you are single, or in a relationship but not married, then you will be filing “Single.” You will find this status right under the big number “1040” on page 1 towards the top.
Simply find your status and compare your AGI to the threshold on the table. If your AGI is less than the threshold, then you will get the full amount in both 2020 and 2021. If you made more than the threshold then you can expect a phase-out of the stimulus payment at the amount of 5% of excess AGI over the threshold.
Here is an example: Since Jeremy and Kristine, married filing jointly, had an AGI of $100,000 they were able to receive the entire benefit of the stimulus payment.
- Step 1: Determine the AGI amount on page 2, line 7 of your return: $100,000
- Step 2: Multiply $1,200 x 2 since both individuals will receive the stimulus (1,200 x 2 = 2,400)
- Step 3: Determine the amount received for dependents under age 17 (500 x 1 = 500)
- Step 4: Determine total stimulus payment (2,400 + 500 = $2,900)
Example 2 (Over the Threshold): However, what if their AGI had been $155,000? Here is how they would have determined their payment:
- Step 1: Determine the excess of AGI over threshold (155,000 – 150,000 = 5,000)
- Step 2: Multiply the excess by 5% (5,000 x 0.05 = 250)
- Step 3. Subtract the phaseout amount from the stimulus payment (1,200 – 250 = $950)
- Step 4: add the amount for your dependent (950 + 500 = $1,450)
Many scenarios can play out when determining your status and your stimulus payment amount. The biggest change will be your Adjusted Gross Income from year to year. Remember that the payment is a refundable credit that was issued early from the IRS by the authority of Congress. Therefore, if you were overpaid, or underpaid, then your tax preparer will be able to correct the payment by adjusting the difference against your tax liability for your 2020 and 2021 tax returns.
What if the IRS does not know my bank account or address?
Forms of Payment from the IRS
The IRS will send your check to you in 3 different ways:
Direct Deposit: If your most recent tax return, 2018 or 2019, has your correct bank account information on it then you will receive your payment via direct deposit. The 2020 payments are complete by now, and the 2021 payments will start going out on the 6th of January, therefore, it is important to track whether or not you have received the payment and look out for the 2021 payment as well.
Check or Card issued by mail: If the IRS does not have your bank account information, see your previous tax return summary, but they have your address then they will send you a check, or debit card, by mail.
Refundable Credit: If the IRS does not have any of the above information, then you will simply have to wait for your Economic Impact Payment benefit until you file your 2020 and 2021 tax returns. The IRS has already provided a placeholder on your return that handles this refundable credit, consequently giving you an easier tax preparation process. If you did not get paid then you will receive the full credit against your tax liability, and the remainder will be issued to you if you received a refund from the IRS.
What if my Bank Account changed after my 2018 or 2019 tax return?
The IRS cannot deposit an amount of money into a bank account that is no longer open. Therefore, they will simply move to the next option, the address, to issue you a check or card by mail.
What if my Address has changed since my 2018 or 2019 tax return?
If the IRS does not have a bank account on file then they will attempt to send you a check or card by mail. However, we do not live static lives which means we move constantly. If the IRS knows they no longer have a valid address then you will have to wait for the refundable credit to be applied to your next tax return. The IRS may not know you have moved and they might issue the check. Be sure and see the next section so you can see exactly where your money might be going.
How do I determine the Status of my Stimulus Check?
The IRS has created a secure website called Get My Payment. I will not put the link here because it requires the input of sensitive information. I highly recommended that you access the IRS.GOV website, and then search for “Get My Payment.” This will prompt you through the process of determining the status of your stimulus payment.
More Stimulus Questions?
Please comment below, or reach out to us by email: firstname.lastname@example.org. We are here and ready to help you find out what’s happening with your stimulus check.