The Internal Revenue Service has sent out $600 payments from the December stimulus package to all of the eligible taxpayers it has on file as Congress continues to negotiate over a third round of checks.
While it’s possible that some paper checks or debit cards are still in the mail, there could be some eligible recipients who haven’t received their money and will have to claim it on their 2020 tax return.
The IRS was required to issue the payments by mid-January so that it could move on to processing this year’s tax returns.
Eligible people who have moved or changed bank accounts since they filed their 2019 tax returns may not have received the money but can claim it on their 2020 tax return. Those who aren’t required to file federal taxes because they earn too little may have also missed out and will have to file a return this year to get the cash.
More than 147 million payments were issued for the second round, which was authorized by Congress in late December. About $142 billion was sent, helping boost retail sales in January for the first increase in months.
Who is eligible?
Not everyone who received money in the initial round of $1,200 payments that went out last spring was eligible for the second $600 check.
The smaller payments phased out faster, cutting off individuals who earn more than $87,000 a year and couples without children earning more than $174,000 a year.
The first two rounds of stimulus payments were based on a taxpayer’s 2019 income. That means that someone who lost their job or otherwise saw their income drastically fall in 2020 may be eligible for more money than they first received.
If that’s the case, they may claim a “Recovery Rebate Credit” on their 2020 tax return. The credit eligibility and the credit amount will be based on the 2020 tax year income.
Those who may have earned more in 2020 than 2019 are not required to pay back money they have already received.
Congress is considering a third round of payments
Congress is negotiating a fresh stimulus package that may include a third round of stimulus checks. Democrats in the House have proposed sending direct payments worth up to $1,400 per person. A family of four could receive up to $5,600.
Individuals earning less than $75,000 a year and married couples earning less than $150,000 would be sent the full amount.
But not everyone who received a previous stimulus check would be eligible for this round. The payments would phase out faster and completely cut off individuals earning more than $100,000 and families earning more than $200,000 — regardless of how many children they have.
The payment will be calculated based on either 2019 or 2020 income. Unlike the previous two rounds, adult dependents would be eligible for the payments.
Lawmakers hope to get legislation passed by mid March. The full House may vote on the bill as soon as next week, but it could face hurdles in the Senate.