COVID-19 Economic Impact Payments: Information and Resources

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Last update: September 16, 2020.


If you are having trouble accessing your Economic Impact Payment (aka “stimulus payment”), or if you are trying to help another person having a problem with their payment:

  • Let one of our attorneys working on EIP issues know about the barriers you are encountering, using this confidential referral form.
  • Call our Legal Advice Line at (800) 551-5554.

An Economic Impact Payment (aka a “stimulus check”) is money that the U.S. government is giving to qualifying individuals to help them during the COVID-19 crisis. As of August 24, 2020, the U.S. government has authorized one Economic Impact Payment, though a second round of payments may happen in the next few months.

A qualifying individual who will receive an Economic Impact Payment is a US citizen, permanent resident or resident alien who:

  1. Has a valid Social Security number;
  2. Could not be claimed as a dependent of another taxpayer; and
  3. Has an adjusted gross income of less than $99,000 (singles) or $198,000 (joint filers)

State governments have a critical role to play in helping their residents access Economic Impact Payments. The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities at https://www.cbpp.org/research/federal-tax/aggressive-state-outreach-can-help-reach-the-12-million-non-filers-eligible-for gives an overview of how state SNAP and Medicaid systems are uniquely positioned to reach the 12 million non-filers who might otherwise miss the key steps to access their Economic Impact Payments.

 

  1. Single and earn less than $75,000/year → you can get $1,200.
  2. Married and file jointly and earn less than $150,000/year → you can get $2,400
  3. Head of household and earn less than $112,500 → you can get $1,200.
  4. You can get $500 for every child under 17 years old who you claim as a dependent.

  • You should automatically get your Economic Impact Payment if you filed your 2018 or 2019 tax returns.
  • You should automatically get your Economic Impact Payment if you receive Social Security retirement, survivors or disability insurance (“RSDI”), Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) benefits. If you started getting RSDI or SSI benefits before January 1, 2020, you should have already received your Economic Impact Payment. If you started getting RSDI or SSI benefits on or after January 1, 2020, you should receive your Economic Impact Payment in November 2020. If you also used the Non-Filer Registration Portal, however, you may get your Economic Impact Payment in October 2020.Visit https://www.ssa.gov/coronavirus/assets/materials/economic-impact-payments-for-social-security-and-ssi-recipients.pdf for more information about the Economic Impact Payment rules for recipients of RSDI or SSI.
  • You should automatically get your Economic Impact Payment if you were getting Veterans Affairs (“VA”) benefits or Railroad Retirement Benefits (“RRB”) before January 1, 2020.
  • You will NOT automatically get your Economic Impact Payment if you have not filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return and you started getting VA or RRB benefits on or after January 1, 2020. To get your Economic Impact Payment, you will have to register as a Non-Filer before October 15, 2020 by clicking on “Enter Your Information” at https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/non-filers-enter-payment-info-here.
  • You should automatically get an Economic Impact Payment for your dependent child(ren) if you filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return, and claimed dependent(s) on that tax return.
  • You should get an Economic Impact Payment for your dependent child(ren) under age 17 if you receive RSDI, SSI, VA or RRB, AND you register your dependent child(ren) on the Non-Filer registration website (https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/non-filers-enter-payment-info-herebefore September 30, 2020.
  • You will NOT get an Economic Impact Payment for your dependent child(ren) under age 17 if you did not file a 2018 or 2019 tax return, and/or you do not register them on the Non-Filer Registration website before September 30, 2020. If you miss that deadline, in order to get an Economic Impact Payment for your dependent child(ren), you will need to file a 2020 tax return with this Please seek out tax advice or assistance for support with this. Also, see “How can I get help with my tax returns or tax-related questions so that I can get my Economic Impact Payment?”, below.
  • If you get CalWorks, CalFresh, General Assistance (“GA”) or if you have limited income and do not file a tax return, you will have to take action to get your payment. To get your Economic Impact Payment, you will have to register as a Non-Filer before October 15, 2020 by clicking on “Enter Your Information” at https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/non-filers-enter-payment-info-here.

  • To register online as a “Non-Filer”, you will need to provide your:
    • Date of birth;
    • Social Security number;
    • Bank account number, type and routing number if you have one (otherwise the IRS will send a check to your mailing address); and
    • For each qualifying child: name, Social Security number or Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number, and their relationship to you/your spouse.

**Note that in order to get your Economic Impact Payment in 2020, you must register on the Non-Filer website by October 15, 2020. If you do not register by October 15, 2020, you will have to wait to file your 2020 tax return to get your Economic Impact Payment in 2021. If you prefer to wait for in-person assistance to register, you can wait until the shelter-in-place rules have been lifted without losing your payment – you will just have your payment delayed.

For general information on Economic Impact Payments, please visit https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/economic-impact-payment-information-center

 


 

There is a risk of fraud connected to Economic Impact Payments. Be careful!

Here are some important tips:

  • The IRS will not call or email you to ask for any personal information or bank account information related to the Economic Impact Payment.
  • Do not give this kind of personal information to anyone who calls you or emails you for it.
  • The IRS will never threaten you or ask for important information by email.
  • You do not need to pay anything to get the Economic Impact Payment. If you need help, there are free service providers who can help.
  • The IRS won’t tell you to deposit your Economic Impact Payment then send them money back because they paid you more than they owed you. That’s a fake check scam.

 

For more information, please visit:

 


 

  • You will get your payment in the same form that your government benefits or tax refund usually comes – either deposited directly into your bank account, deposited directly into your Direct Express card, or by check or debit card mailed to the mailing address you most recently provided.
  • If the IRS does not have your bank account or Direct Express card information, it will mail you a check at the address you most recently provided at https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/non-filers-enter-payment-info-here. Some individuals have received their Economic Impact Payment in the form of a prepaid debit card, instead of by paper check, but this is not as common.

  • When you register online as a Non-Filer, you can request that a check be sent and provide a mailing address, instead of providing any bank information.
  • You can open up a new bank account now, or you can wait until the shelter-in-place rules are lifted to open one in person or to seek assistance for opening one in person. For more information about different options for opening up a new bank account, visit https://covidbanking.joinbankon.org/.

  • If you have a bank account, you can request a direct deposit when you register as a Non-Filer online.
  • If you have a safe address, such as a non-profit organization, social services office, or community center, where you can have important mail sent, you can wait until their office re-opens (if it is closed due to COVID-19 shelter-in-place rules) and then register online with that address (with the organization’s permission). You may also choose to use a friend or family member’s address if that address is safe for you to access mail.

  • Banks should not take any amounts from your Economic Impact Payment to cover overdraft fees or other charges. However, if you are concerned that your bank will do so, you can either open up an account at a different bank just for your Economic Impact Payment, or you can request the payment as a check when you register online.

  • Unfortunately, the only way to register right now is through the online system. There is no phone number to call, so you will need access to a computer and have an email address. However, if you would prefer to wait for in-person assistance to access a computer with your authorized representative, a tax assistance program, or at a local IRS office, you should wait until the COVID-19 shelter-in-place rules have been lifted. You will not be penalized or lose your Economic Impact Payment if you wait.
  • You can create an email address to be used solely for purposes of Economic Impact Payment registration, but make sure to keep your information safe and confidential.
  • If you have a case manager, advocate, or attorney who is working with you on another matter, he or she may be able to help you register by phone.
  • If you are unable to register before October 15, 2020, you can file a 2020 tax return in 2021.

  • You can enter your information at https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/get-my-payment to get a status update.
  • You can call the IRS Economic Impact Payment help line at (800) 919-9835 and ask to speak with an Analyst who can provide “specific case information.” You may have to wait 20-30 minutes to speak with an Analyst, and you will need to verify your identity (including name, Social Security Number, phone number, tax information) with the Analyst.

 

  • Someone who is incarcerated may still be eligible for an EIP, though the IRS has given some conflicting advice. If you are denied an EIP, and you think it is because you were incarcerated (or if you got a lower EIP because your spouse was incarcerated), please reach out to your Bay Area Legal Aid representative, or call the Legal Advice Hotline at 1 (800) 551-5554. An individual who is released from incarceration during 2020 should be eligible for an Economic Impact Payment and should try to register as a Non-Filer before October 15, 2020 by clicking on “Enter Your Information” at https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/non-filers-enter-payment-info-here.

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  • No – as long as you spend the Economic Impact Payment check in 12 months.
    • The payments are not considered a resource for 12 months.
    • The payments are not counted as income during the month they are received

  • The IRS will only take out from your stimulus money if you owe child support. Otherwise, the IRS will not use your money to pay for student loans, or a debt you owe someone.
  • Be careful of private creditors who may try to garnish payments from your bank account that you owe on outstanding court judgments. If you are concerned about a debt collector coming after your Economic Impact Payment for unpaid judgments, please contact the court to see if there is an outstanding writ of execution for the judgment, or call our Legal Advice Line at 1-800-551-5554.
  • If you have any questions or concerns about a person or entity trying to take part of your Economic Impact Payment for a prior loan, please contact our Legal Advice Line at 1-800-551-5554.

  • The additional $500 per dependent is only available for dependents who are under age 17. Therefore, if you have claimed a dependent who is over 17 years old, you unfortunately cannot get the additional $500 payment for him/her/them.

  • There are a number of reasons you may not have gotten your Economic Impact Payment yet. Here are a few possibilities:
    • Someone else claimed you as a dependent;
    • You owe child support payments;
    • Someone else received your check and will not give it to you;
    • Your check was sent to an old mailing address or another address that you cannot access;
    • Your check was deposited into a bank account that you no longer have access to; and/or
    • Your payment was deposited to a direct express card that you do not have.
  • Please contact your Bay Area Legal Aid representative directly, or call our Legal Advice Line at 1-800-551-5554.
  • You can also reach out to Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) at https://www.benefits.gov/benefit/1543 or https://irs.treasury.gov/freetaxprep/ or by calling 1-800-906-9887, or to United Way of the Bay Area at https://earnitkeepitsaveit.org/ or by calling 2-1-1.
  • The IRS Taxpayer Advocate may be able to assist you if you did not receive an Economic Impact Payment, or did not receive the correct amount, in the following limited situations:
    • Non-Filer who claimed a dependent but did not receive the portion of the Economic Impact Payment for their dependents;
    • Eligible individuals who filed for an “Injured Spouse Allocation” but did not receive an Economic Impact Payment;
    • Individuals whose Economic Impact Payment was based on a 2018 or 2019 tax return but an IRS adjustment negatively impacted the amount of the person’s Economic Impact Payment;
    • Victims of identity theft who did not get their Economic Impact Payment or did not get the right amount.
    • Individuals who did not get their Economic Impact Payment because they filed a joint return with a deceased or incarcerated spouse .
  • If your case does not fit into one of the above categories for Taxpayer Advocate assistance, please note that the IRS has advised that it cannot currently correct or issue a payment. Therefore, you may need to claim additional amounts, or the full amount, of your Economic Impact Payment by filing a 2020 tax return in 2021. Make sure to keep the Notice 1444, Your Economic Impact Payment, that you will receive in the mail, so you can use it to claim any additional amounts when you file your taxes later.

  • If you did not get your Economic Impact Payment, but your status on the IRS “Get My Payment” page shows your payment was issued, or you received an IRS Notice that your payment was sent, you can request a “Payment Trace” by completing IRS Form 3911(“Taxpayer Statement Regarding Refund”).
  • To request a Payment Trace, you can call the IRS (800-919-9835) or submit an IRS Form 3911(“Taxpayer Statement Regarding Refund”) and:
    • Write “EIP” on the top of the form;
    • Complete Sections I, II and III;
    • Answer the refund questions as they relate to your Economic Impact Payment;
    • In Section I, Number 7, check the box for “Individual” as “Type of return” and enter “2020” as the tax period, and leave the “Date Filed” blank.
    • Mail or fax the form to the appropriate location listed at https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/economic-impact-payment-information-center.
  • You should hear back from the IRS after about 6 weeks.

  • If you did not get your Economic Impact Payment, but your status on the IRS “Get My Payment” page shows your payment was issued, or you received an IRS Notice that your payment was sent, you can request a “Payment Trace” by completing IRS Form 3911(“Taxpayer Statement Regarding Refund”).
  • To request a Payment Trace, you can call the IRS (800-919-9835) or submit an IRS Form 3911(“Taxpayer Statement Regarding Refund”) and:
    • Write “EIP” on the top of the form;
    • Complete Sections I, II and III;
    • Answer the refund questions as they relate to your Economic Impact Payment;
    • In Section I:
      • Check the box for “Individual” as “Type of return”;
      • Enter “2020” as the tax period; and
      • Leave the “Date Filed” blank.
    • Mail or fax the form to the appropriate location listed at https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/economic-impact-payment-information-center.
  • You should hear back from the IRS after about 6 weeks.

  • If you have a representative payee, your Economic Impact Payment will be deposited directly into the account that is managed by your representative payee, or your representative payee will receive a check in the mail with your payment.
  • The Economic Impact Payment belongs to the Social Security or SSI beneficiary, and is not considered a Social Security or SSI benefit that requires management or oversight by a representative payee.
  • If your representative payee has withheld or misused your Economic Impact Payment, you may also contact us at www.baylegal/eip or call our Legal Advice Line at 800-551-5554 for additional assistance.
  • For more information and frequently asked questions about representative payees, please visit: https://www.ssa.gov/coronavirus/?utm_content=pressrelease&utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery

[Information below is cited from the Social Security Administration website, accessed on May 1, 2020. BayLegal will make every effort to keep this information current, but we suggest also checking the SSA update page at https://www.ssa.gov/coronavirus/.

In certain situations, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) may deposit a Social Security or SSI beneficiary’s EIP into an account managed by the representative payee, or the representative payee will receive a check.

The EIP belongs to the Social Security or SSI beneficiary. It is not a Social Security or SSI benefit. A representative payee should discuss the EIP with the beneficiary. If the beneficiary wants to use the EIP independently, the representative payee should provide the EIP to the beneficiary. If the beneficiary asks the representative payee for assistance in using the EIP in a specific manner or saving it, the representative payee can provide that assistance outside the role of a representative payee.

Under the Social Security Act, a representative payee is only responsible for managing Social Security or SSI benefits. An EIP is not such a benefit. A representative payee should discuss the EIP with the beneficiary. If the beneficiary wants to use the EIP independently, the representative payee should provide the EIP to the beneficiary. If the beneficiary asks the representative payee for assistance in using the EIP in a specific manner or saving it, the representative payee can provide that assistance outside the role of a representative payee.

Because an EIP is not a Social Security or SSI benefit, representative payees are not required to account for the EIP when they complete their annual accounting form.

Because an EIP is not a Social Security or SSI benefit, SSA does not have authority to investigate or determine whether the EIP has been misused. However, if SSA receives an allegation that the EIP was not used on behalf of the beneficiary, SSA may decide to investigate for possible misuse of the beneficiary’s Social Security or SSI benefit payments. SSA may also determine the representative payee is no longer suitable and appoint a new representative payee.