MINNEAPOLIS — We’re getting a lot of questions about these stimulus checks.
Our KARE 11 text line received more than 2,000 texts on Monday alone, and all of them involved questions about these stimulus checks.
So, we’re going to answer as many of those questions as we can.
Chris Wittich, a CPA with Boyum Barenscheer PLLP in Bloomington, was kind enough to lend his expertise to answer some of the toughest questions.
QUESTION: The first question is probably the one on everyone’s minds, when are these stimulus payments going out?
ANSWER: The direct deposits have already started. We’ve actually had a few clients receive their direct deposit either today or yesterday. So, the direct deposits are starting now. In terms of the checks, the paper checks in the mail, it seems like those are going to start going out probably in May.
Q: Why are some people getting these stimulus payments sooner than others?
A: The people who have direct deposit information on file with the IRS are definitely the first ones to get their stimulus money. So, that’s one factor. And then the other factor is just that the IRS can’t possibly process all of these at once.
Q: Why are the paper checks taking longer to go out?
A: It takes them time to process the paper checks, to print them, and to mail them out. We see this with the typical tax-filing process that paper checks come in the mail much later than direct deposits. Usually they come about three weeks later than the direct deposits. So, that’s the timeline we’re assuming the IRS will follow with these stimulus payments.
Q: If I want to speed things up, how can I send the IRS my direct deposit information?
A: They do have a portal where you can enter your direct deposit information. That is live on the IRS website right now. So, if on your 2018 and 2019 returns you didn’t have a refund, or you did not have a direct information entered, you can go on the IRS website now and enter your direct deposit information so that they have it on file. Hopefully then you will be set up to receive your payment through direct deposit, which will be quicker than waiting for a paper check to come.
Q: How can I track my stimulus payment?
A: The IRS "Get My Payment" tool is now live. You can check the status of your payment, confirm your payment type (direct deposit or hard copy check), and enter your bank account information for direct deposit if the IRS doesn't have that information and hasn't sent your payment yet.
Q: Who is eligible for these checks?
A: For single folks it’s anyone who earns less than $75,000, for married it’s $150,000. And then there are some phase-out ranges above that.
Q: Will I have to pay taxes on this money?
A: These are credits and credits are not taxable. It will show up on your 2020 tax return, but it will not show up as income. So, no, you don’t have to pay taxes on this money.
Q: Will this affect people’s 2020 tax refunds is they get one?
A: No. It won’t affect any future tax returns. The only thing that can happen on your 2020 return is if you were limited on the stimulus check you received, you might get more. Let’s say you made too much money according to your 2019 tax return or your 2018 tax return and so you’re not getting the stimulus money right now, but if you made less money in 2020, your tax return next year will show that and so you might get the stimulus money next year when you file your taxes.
Q: What’s the age cut off for dependents?
A: So, the dependents, you get a $500 credit, but it only counts the children who are under the age of 17. So, the kids have to be younger 16 or younger in order to get that $500. If you have a dependent who is like in college and they’re 20 years old, you are not going to get a $500 stimulus check for them. And college students who think they might be getting their own stimulus check, might be in for a rude awakening if they’re being claimed by their parents. If that’s their situation, they’re not going to receive a stimulus check, and their parents also won’t be able to receive a dependent credit.
Q: Is there a limit on claimed dependents?
A: There’s no limit in the law. If you have two kids that qualify, it would be a $1,000. And if you have four kids, it would be $2,000. There’s no limit.
Q: The IRS is expecting to see a lot of scammers trying to take advantage of people who are waiting for their stimulus money. What do people need to know about possible scams that might pop up in the coming days and weeks?
A: Scams are a real concern. First thing, the IRS is not going to call you. They’re not going to email you and ask for your direct deposit information. They are not going to reach out to you at all about these stimulus checks. If you want to provide direct deposit information, you are going to need to go to the IRS website yourself and you want to be very careful that you’re going to IRS.gov and not some other website. That’s the best way people can protect themselves and make sure they’re not falling into one of these scams. Because there are certainly a lot of them.
Watch an extended version of Gordon's interview with Chris Wittich below:
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The state of Minnesota has set up a hotline for general questions about coronavirus at 651-201-3920 or 1-800-657-3903, available 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
There is also a data portal online at mn.gov/covid19.