Should You Expect a Stimulus Check, and When?

Dear Rich Lifer,

On Thursday, President Joe Biden signed the $1.9 trillion coronavirus aid package — named The American Rescue Plan — into law. 

The bill, one of the largest injections of federal aid since the Great Depression, will provide another round of direct payments for some Americans, an extension of federal unemployment benefits, an expansion of the child tax credit, funds to distribute coronavirus vaccines, and aid to provide relief for schools, states, tribal governments and small businesses struggling during the pandemic.

In a statement, President Biden remarked, “This legislation is about giving the backbone of this nation — the essential workers, the working people who built this country, the people who keep this country going — a fighting chance.” 

Republicans have remained united in their opposition to the bill. In fact, all 211 House Republicans and all 49 Senate Republicans voted against it. They continue to maintain that the economy will pull itself out of the wreckage of the past year, and they portray the bill as more of an embrace of Democratic policy than a relief package that will help millions of Americans. 

President Biden’s team has attempted to combat these opinions with facts straight from the American people. In a Pew Research Center survey this month, the bill drew 70% support among adults, including 41% of Republicans. It also garnered more than 60% support in two polls released Wednesday by Monmouth University and CNN.

Regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum, one of the most discussed parts of the bill was the $1,400 stimulus checks, which will be sent directly to qualifying Americans. 

Qualification requirements for these payments have changed multiple times during the legislative process, so many are unsure about if they should expect a payment, and if so, when? 

Today, we will attempt to answer the biggest questions about these direct payments to bring you some much needed clarity!

Read on…

How Big are the Payments and Who Is Eligible?

The stimulus payments will be $1,400 for most Americans. Those who are eligible will also receive a payment of the same size for each of their children. If you have a child who is a college student or an elderly relative living with you and you claim them as a dependent, you will receive payment for them as well (unlike in previous payments). 

Individuals with adjusted gross income (AGI) up to $75,000, heads of household with AGI up to $112,500 and married couples with AGI up to $150,000 will get the full payments. You must have a social security number to receive a payment.

Unlike in prior rounds of payments, households who make anything above these thresholds will see sharp declines in what they receive, and payments phase out to zero much faster. 

Individuals with AGI of $80,000, heads of household with AGI of $120,000 and married couples with AGI of $160,000 will not receive any direct payments. Payments for children decrease the same way. 

How Are Incomes Determined? 

Your most recent year of income on record at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will determine the amount of your payment. So, if you have already filed your 2020 taxes, they will use that information. If you haven’t yet filed, they will use your 2019 tax return.

If your 2019 income was too high to qualify, but your 2020 income has decreased, you can try to quickly file your taxes, but there is no guarantee they will be processed fast enough to be considered when sending checks. 

But do not fear, you are not out of luck! The law includes a provision for the Treasury Department to make supplemental payments by September. If you don’t get one by then, you can claim the $1,400 when you file your 2021 taxes. 

Conversely, if you know you qualify based on your 2019 income but know you made more in 2020, you may wait to file your taxes. The bill specifically doesn’t allow the government to take back any payment when you eventually file your 2020 taxes. 

When Are the Payments Coming? 

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said direct deposits could begin reaching bank accounts as soon as this weekend. 

Like with prior payments, you should be able to track the status of your check by using the IRS’s Get My Payment tool. This tool is offline (at the time of writing this piece), but according to the IRS, it will be back online soon. 

The IRS will send payments using the direct deposit information it has on file and will attempt to provide as many people as possible with these quicker electronic payments. If it doesn’t have that information, it will send paper checks or debit cards, which will likely take longer to arrive.

Because the IRS has gained important experience sending out the prior rounds of payments, we can hope that this round will arrive promptly. 

Looking back to last year, when former President Donald Trump signed the first relief bill in March, most direct deposits arrived within about two weeks. The second round of payments, approved in December, hit bank accounts within a few days. 

What If You Are Missing Prior Payments? 

You can claim any missing payments by using your 2020 tax return, whether it was a payment you didn’t get or partial payments that would be full payments based on your 2020 income and household composition.

To do this, you must fill out a 1040. On line 30, titled Recovery Rebate Credit, fill in the amount you are missing, and you will either receive this as a refund or have the amount subtracted from what you owe. 

Remember, you must use your 2020 information when attempting to claim any missing payments. In other words, someone who got a partial payment based on 2019 income can’t claim the Recovery Rebate Credit for the remainder if their 2020 income is too high to qualify.

We certainly hope that all this information will allow you to gain some clarity on the payment process and the qualification guidelines. 

To a richer life,

The Rich Life Roadmap Team 


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