Coronavirus stimulus FAQ: Who gets stimulus money? Will paper checks be issued? When will it come?

After the Senate passed a historic $2.2 trillion economic relief package to help the devastated U.S. economy and to bring a sense of temporary financial relief to millions of Americans who lost their jobs practically overnight due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many are wondering exactly when and how they’ll receive their money. 

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Here are some frequently-asked coronavirus stimulus package questions, answered:

Who gets coronavirus stimulus money?

Individuals who make up to $75,000 per year as well as couples who make up to $150,000 per year should expect to receive the full amount of the stimulus check. 

Who doesn’t get a check?

The payment is reduced by five percent of every dollar above the income mark of $75,000 per year and individuals who make over $99,000 as well as couples with a combined income of more than $198,000 will not qualify. 

Joint filers who $198,000 or more per year are also exempt from receiving payment. 

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According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, immigrants who file taxes using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) instead of a Social Security Number will be exempt from payments, which the institution says excludes an additional estimated 4.3 million adults and 3.5 million children from the benefit.

The one-time checks will also go only to those Americans who have filed a tax return this year or in 2019.

Josh Bivens and Heidi Shierholz, economists at the progressive Economic Policy Institute, calculate that roughly 30 million people, including senior citizens and those with very low incomes, don't file tax returns.

That means that “in order to get this aid, they will have to file tax returns during this pandemic," the economists wrote.

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Exactly how much will I get?

The bill would provide one-time direct payments to Americans of $1,200 per adult making up to $75,000 a year and $2,400 to a married couple making up to $150,000, with $500 payments per child.

What tax year will my check amount be based on?

Individuals will receive payments based on their 2019 incomes but you can also use your 2018 return if you haven’t filed yet. If your income last year makes you ineligible, but you expect a drastic loss of income this year because of the virus, filing for unemployment appears to be the best option. 

When will I receive the money? 

On March 30, the the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service announced that distribution of payments to Americans will "begin in the next three weeks and will be distributed automatically, with no action required for most people."

“Our expectation is within three weeks we will have direct payments out where we have depository information,” Mnuchin previously stated when the bill was passed. “We’re looking to get a lot more information and we have procedures to do that.”
According to the text of the bill, payments will be made “as rapidly as possible” and no later than Dec. 31, 2020.

How will the money come? 

Payments will most likely arrive as a paper check, but tax filing services, including the IRS, offer the option for direct deposit when receiving a tax return, which will likely be applicable for the relief payments. 

A notice will reportedly be sent to taxpayers from the IRS to the individual’s last known address informing them of the distribution of payment and the method thereof.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.