Washington – Most Americans will not have to do anything to receive a $1,200 coronavirus rebate check in the mail, probably sometime next month.

Even individuals with zero income are eligible for a rebate as long as they aren’t the dependent of another taxpayer and have a valid Social Security number.

However, those who have not filed tax returns for 2018 or 2019 must file a return for 2019, unless they receive Social Security of veteran’s benefits.

The new federal payout was included in a massive stimulus bill President Donald Trump signed into law last week. It is intended to put money into the hands of Americans as soon as possible to boost the nation’s flagging economy.

The stimulus bill provides individuals who earn up to $75,000 a year in adjusted gross income a $1,200 check and couples who earn up to $150,000 a $2,400 check. Heads of households can earn up to $112,500 to receive a rebate check of  $1,200.  An additional $500 will be added for every child in a household under 17.

Individuals who earn more than $75,000 but less than $99,000 will receive reduced payments, as would couples who earn between $150,000 and $198,000 a year and head of household filers who earn between $112,500 and $146,500. Their rebate checks will be reduced by $5 for each $100 that a taxpayer’s income exceeds the phase-out threshold.

Individuals who earn more than $99,000, couples who earn more than $198,000 and head of household filers who earn more than $146,500 will not receive a rebate.

When will you get a rebate check?

Those who file taxes electronically and provide bank information for the IRS to deposit their refunds will get the money faster than all others. The rest of those eligible will get a check in the mail from the U.S. Treasury, which will take more time.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he hopes to distribute rebates to those who’ve provided the IRS with bank information in three weeks.

Mnuchin also said there will be a new, web-based application for those who don’t receive direct deposit to give the IRS the necessary information.

It is not clear how long it would take the agency to send out all the money. The $2 trillion stimulus bill simply calls for payments to be made “as rapidly as possible.”

 What if you did not earn any income last year, how can you file a return?

The Internal Revenue Service is considering making a new form available, just as it did when Americans received stimulus checks in 2008 to help them through the recession. Those forms required people to file a return showing $1 in income, even if they did not have it.

Can college students receive rebates?

College students who are not considered dependents of their parents are eligible for a rebate check.

Generally, full-time college students under the age of 24 are considered dependents if their parents provide more than half of their support.

Is the rebate considered taxable income?

No.

Are undocumented immigrants eligible for rebates?

No.

What if I owe the federal government money?

The stimulus bill halted nearly all administrative offsets that ordinarily would reduce tax refunds for individuals who have past tax debts, or who are behind on other payments to federal or state governments, including student loan payments. The only offset that will be enforced applies to those who have past due child support payments that the states have reported to the Treasury Department.


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Ana has written about politics and policy in Washington, D.C.. for Gannett, Thompson Reuters and UPI. She was a special correspondent for the Miami Herald, and a regular contributor to The New York TImes, Advertising Age and several other publications. She has also worked in broadcast journalism, for CNN and several local NPR stations. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Journalism.

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1 Comment

  1. The determination of “income” is a bit complicated. They will use 2019 AGI if filed or 2018 AGI if not. This will estimate benefit. If underestimated one can claim a credit for any remaining amount on one’s 2020 return (if eligible). I don’t think the reverse applies (giving back over payment) but not sure.

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