In the wake of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, lawmakers took unprecedented action last month and wound up passing the largest economic stimulus in history.
This stimulus, officially known as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, totals $2.2 trillion and will be responsible for providing up to $500 billion in loans to distressed industries, $350 billion in loans to small businesses, and $260 billion to expand the unemployment benefits program. But what the American public really cares about is the $300 billion set aside for direct stimulus payments to workers and seniors.
Who qualifies for a coronavirus stimulus check?
Who gets a stimulus check, you ask? Thankfully, it’s a fairly cut-and-dried question that’s primarily determined by a person’s income, whether they’re classified as a dependent, and if they have a Social Security number.
Before proceeding into the qualifications for a stimulus check, it’s important to note that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) plans to use your most recent tax filing to determine your eligibility. This means if you’ve already filed your 2019 federal tax return, your adjusted gross income (AGI) and filing status will be used to determine your eligibility. And if you haven’t yet filed your 2019 federal return yet — remember, the tax-filing deadline has been pushed back to July 15, 2020 — your 2018 AGI and filing status will be the determining factors.
With that being said, your income is the most decisive factor in determining your eligibility. The following three filing statuses can all expect to receive the maximum stimulus check of $1,200 per individual or $2,400 per couple filing jointly if their AGIs are below certain thresholds:
- Single filers who earned less than $75,000 in AGI
- Head-of-household filers who earned less than $112,500 in AGI
- Married filing jointly with less than $150,000 in AGI
At the other end of the spectrum, the following “high-income earners” are disqualified from receiving a stimulus check:
- Single filers with over $99,000 in AGI
- Head-of-household filers above $136,500 in AGI
- Married filing jointly with more than $198,000 in AGI
So, what if you fall in between this upper bound where payouts stop and the lower bound where the coronavirus relief payment is maximized? The simple answer is you remove $5 in payout for every $100 in AGI. Thus, a single filer with $80,000 in AGI would receive $950 instead of the maximum $1,200.
Furthermore, households with qualifying children aged 16 and under will receive an extra $500 per child.
Beyond high income, other disqualifying factors include being a dependent aged 17 and over (this includes college-age students and senior citizens) and, in most cases, being a noncitizen without a valid Social Security number.
One last note: Seniors receiving Social Security benefits can qualify for a stimulus check, even if they haven’t filed a tax return. The IRS will be able to access the payout record for seniors and deposit their stimulus check into the same account that their Social Security benefit is credited to.
OK, great…but when am I going to get my check?
All told, a majority of the 140 million households in the U.S. will be receiving a coronavirus stimulus check. But the big question is, exactly when will it arrive?
According to the Washington Post, the IRS’s plan is to send its first batch of payments to those folks who have their direct deposit information on file. That’s about 80 million Americans. After that, it’ll begin issuing paper checks, of which it can print and send out in the neighborhood of 5 million per week.
However, the IRS isn’t going to simply draw names or Social Security numbers out of a hat to determine when you’ll be paid your stimulus check. Rather, it’s going to be issuing paper checks on a weekly basis based on AGI and in $10,000 increments. If you know your AGI from 2019 (if you’ve already filed your federal return) or 2018 (if you’ve yet to file), this will tell you precisely when you can expect to receive your stimulus check.
- If the IRS has your direct deposit information on file: the week ending April 17.
- Paper checks for people with up to $10,000 in AGI: the week ending April 24.
- Between $10,000 AGI and $20,000 AGI: the week ending May 1.
- Between $20,000 AGI and $30,000 AGI: the week ending May 8.
- Between $30,000 AGI and $40,000 AGI: the week ending May 15.
- Between $40,000 AGI and $50,000 AGI: the week ending May 22.
- Between $50,000 AGI and $60,000 AGI: the week ending May 29.
- Between $60,000 AGI and $70,000 AGI: the week ending June 5.
- Between $70,000 AGI and $80,000 AGI: the week ending June 12.
- Between $80,000 AGI and $90,000 AGI: the week ending June 19.
- Between $90,000 AGI and $100,000 AGI: the week ending June 26.
- Between $100,000 AGI and $110,000 AGI: the week ending July 3.
- Between $110,000 AGI and $120,000 AGI: the week ending July 10.
- Between $120,000 AGI and $130,000 AGI: the week ending July 17.
- Between $130,000 AGI and $140,000 AGI: the week ending July 24.
- Between $140,000 AGI and $150,000 AGI: the week ending July 31.
- Between $150,000 AGI and $160,000 AGI: the week ending Aug. 7.
- Between $160,000 AGI and $170,000 AGI: the week ending Aug. 14.
- Between $170,000 AGI and $180,000 AGI: the week ending Aug. 21.
- Between $180,000 AGI and $190,000 AGI: the week ending Aug. 28.
- Between $190,000 AGI and $198,000 AGI: the week ending Sept. 4.
- All other checks (e.g., those who didn’t have tax info on file): the week ending Sept. 11.
You’ll note that, based on this payout schedule, all single filers, with the exception of those who don’t have their tax info on file with the IRS, should receive their stimulus check by the end of June. Meanwhile, all head-of-household filers will have received their paper stimulus payouts by no later than July 24. Lastly, married couples filing jointly with higher income levels, but still low enough to receive a stimulus check, could receive their payout as late as the beginning of September.
Assuming you’re one of what could be 60 million-plus Americans owed a paper stimulus check, this timeline should give you a good idea of exactly when it’ll arrive.