BOSTON — The coronavirus pandemic has upended the lives and finances of millions. A federal relief package aiming to provide payments to distressed consumers passed Friday — but that money is not likely to land for a number of weeks.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Sunday the checks could be direct deposited into people’s accounts within three weeks, while experts say it could take longer for those eligible to see the money.
And, not everyone will be receiving a check from the federal government.
If you are eligible, questions still remain over how much of the $2.2 trillion stimulus package will end up in your bank account. In a general sense, your family could be eligible for up to $1,200 per adult, $2,400 for married couples, and about $500 per qualifying child under 16.
Local mother of two adult kids Taeko Sweeney is expecting three checks for her family, but the check she and her husband gets and the checks her children get won’t be the same amount.
“It’s really meant to be for people with moderate income or below, they are not trying to get people with high income and give them a distribution that they do not need and it is meant to also help small businesses,” said Deborah Cartisser, a financial advisor at Twelve Points Wealth Management Co.
Cartisser says your last tax return would have to show you earned under $99,000 as a single person, or a combined amount of under $198,000 if married.
“If you have not filed your taxes yet and you made less money in 2019 then in 2018 than it is in your best interest to hurry up and get those filed,” said Cartisser.
Cartisser says this check will not be taxable and it will come the same way you got your last refund. You can find that on the 2nd page of your last 1040 under line 20.
“If you do not have direct deposit I don’t know any mechanism to set that up - you will get a check in the mail, it will just be delayed a little bit,” said Cartisser.
Legal US tax residents with a social security number and income who do not owe child support are among the immigrant groups eligible to receive the check. Despite paying taxes and making up 5% of the workforce in Massachusetts, undocumented immigrants are not eligible for the stimulus check or unemployment benefits.
Legal permanent residents, work visa holders, DACA recipients and more must meet non-immigrant requirements in order to receive the check, such as making less than $75,000 (doubled if married), have filed taxes for 2018 and 2019 as well as not be a dependent on someone else’s tax return.
The coronavirus stimulus check is not considered a public charge under the U.S. Customs and Immigration Services’ new rules that rolled out in February. The check is actually a 2020 tax credit paid in advance, and thus does not fall under any benefit category in the public charge rule. Unemployment is also not considered a public charge.
Cartisser adds that, for people who have had children in 2020 who have not yet shown up yet on a tax return, they will get a refund on future tax returns for children who were born in the early part of this year.
Those who’ve lost their jobs might feel like the floor has fallen out from under them. Money from the government will provide a much-needed boost, but it might be weeks or even months before they see that check and they will likely need to supplement and stretch it as much as possible.
For many people, this money won’t cover all of their expenses, even after all governmental and nonprofit resources are tapped.
“I think they should be giving more to people who need it,” said Wendy Lague, of Westwood.
For those who still have a regular income but not much in the bank, a government payment is a chance to build financial resilience. If you don’t have an emergency fund or you’ve exhausted it already, starting one with this government money would be a good idea.
Carol Fabbri, principal at Fair Advisors, a Colorado-based financial planning firm suggests putting your money in a high-yield account, like an online savings account, so you can earn more interest than you would in a traditional checking account.
“If you’re in the lucky place where you have protected yourself already, then it’s a wonderful time to give,” Fabbri says. “Get a gift certificate for a nail salon or restaurant that you typically go to. If you can afford to do that, it’s a great way to support your community.”
If you still have questions on the stimulus check, you can calculate how much you might be eligible for here.
© 2020 © 2020 Cox Media Group