How to get your coronavirus stimulus check quickly

Vallejo Times-Herald, by Michael Nowels, April 2, 2020

FILE – In this Jan. 14, 2017 file photo, tax professional and tax preparation firm owner Alicia Utley reaches for hard copies of tax forms while working to stay caught up at the start of the tax season rush in her offices at Infinite Tax Solutions, in Boulder, Colo. Millions of working Americans should start seeing fatter paychecks as early as next month, the IRS says, as a result of the recently passed tax law. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

Americans across the country, many of whom are facing dire financial situations amid the COVID-19 crisis, are eagerly awaiting payment from the federal government’s stimulus package.

In fact, if unemployment spikes in California and the United States are any indication, the situation is urgent for millions.

But in the past, those payments have taken weeks or months to arrive. The last time there was a stimulus agreement, in 2008, checks weren’t sent for three months after President George W. Bush signed the bill.

So how can those who really need their stimulus share make sure they get it as soon as possible? The Internal Revenue Service, which will distribute the payments, has some tips.

A refresher: Those who made $75,000 or less on their most recent tax filing will receive the full $1,200 payment. That threshold doubles for joint-filing couples, and parents will receive an additional $500 per child. The stimulus payment decreases by $5 for each $100 above each threshold.

The IRS will deposit the stimulus money directly into your bank account if you have previously set up direct deposit for tax refunds. For those who don’t have that arranged yet, the U.S. Treasury is planning to unveil a web-based portal where recipients can set up direct deposit and avoid wasting time by waiting for a check in the mail.

In the meantime, it may be worth looking at your bank records to double check if you have received a tax rebate via direct deposit or if it came via check.

The IRS will use 2019 tax forms to determine eligibility and sort out where to send the money. If you haven’t filed your 2019 taxes yet (the federal deadline was extended to July 15, by the way), then the IRS will use 2018 filings.

Some people, such as low-income residents and senior citizens, may not have been required to file taxes in the last two years. For them, the IRS expects to soon provide information on its website.

Even if you were supposed to file 2018 tax forms last year and missed it, you are entitled to the economic stimulus.

The IRS is urging people in that position to file as soon as possible (and maybe take care of 2019 while you’re at it). When you’re filing, you should include direct deposit information to speed up the process.

If you’re not able to file immediately, the IRS says the stimulus will be available through the rest of 2020.

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