The biggest news from Washington is Trump’s bipartisan $2 trillion stimulus bill to provide relief for the American people during the COVID-19 pandemic. This bill has gotten a lot of attention mainly because it’s promising direct cash deposits into our bank accounts. However, do you qualify?
What Is in the Bill?
The Coronavirus Relief Bill isn’t just providing direct cash deposits. $377 billion will be given as federal loans to small businesses, and $500 billion is designated to set up an official federal loan program for companies severely hit by the effects of COVID-19, such as the airline industry, hospitality industry, etc. In addition, $100 billion will be given to hospitals as the demand for COVID-19 treatments increases.
However, a good portion of the bill will be allocated as direct cash deposits to Americans affected by the virus. Yep, that’s right, a direct deposit into your bank account—you don't even need to apply for it! But these cash deposits won’t be given to everyone. Here is all you need to know to see if you’re eligible for the cash benefits in the Coronavirus Relief Bill.
Do You Qualify for a Direct Cash Deposit?
If you’re an independent, tax-paying American with a valid Social Security Number (military members are exempt from this qualification), then you will get a direct cash deposit from the government as a part of the stimulus bill. How much will you get exactly? That depends on your gross income and marital status. If you’re single and make $75,000 or less per year, then you will get the full guaranteed amount of $1,200 deposited into your bank account. Married couples with no children will receive a total of $2,400 as a direct deposit. For each child/dependent filed on your tax return, you will receive an additional $500 per child.
If you’re an independent, tax-paying American with a valid Social Security Number, then you will get a direct cash deposit.
The direct deposit amount begins to dwindle if you make more than the above income figures, and there is an income threshold for eligibility altogether. You’re no longer eligible for a direct deposit if you: are single and make more than $99,000 per year, are married with no children and earn more than $198,000 per year, or are married with two children and make more than $218,000 per year.
Who Doesn't Qualify for a Direct Deposit?
You aren’t eligible if you were claimed as a dependent on your parent’s or guardian’s 2019 tax return. Sorry, college students, that means you—unless you’re one of the very few students living independently of your parents and paying your way through college. Even if you’re an adult and out of college, but still live at home and are covered under your parent’s insurance, you still don't apply if your parents claimed you as a dependent.
You’re also not eligible for the direct deposit if you aren't a U.S. citizen with a valid Social Security number. This means individuals living and working in the U.S. under a valid visa, tourists, and illegal immigrants aren’t eligible. Basically, in order to receive a direct deposit, you have to be an independent U.S. citizen with a valid Social Security Number unclaimed as a dependent on your parents’/guardians’ tax return.
Unemployed? The Bill’s Got You Covered.
Have you been furloughed or laid-off due to the coronavirus? The Coronavirus Relief Bill expanded unemployment eligibility so that you can receive financial help during the global pandemic. Whether you are a full-time, part-time, gig, or self-employed worker, you could be eligible to receive unemployment benefits if your work has been affected by COVID-19 related reasons. How much will you get? If you prove that your work has been affected by COVID-19 and are eligible to file for unemployment, you will receive an additional $600 per week on top of your state’s standard unemployment benefits.
If your work has been affected by COVID-19 and you’re eligible to file for unemployment, you’ll receive an additional $600 per week.
Here’s how it will work: The average worker in America earns about $1,000 per month. Every state has different unemployment benefits; however, unemployment benefits typically cover 40-45% of the average monthly salary — around $400-$450 per month. The Coronavirus Relief Bill will close the 55-60% gap by giving out $600 weekly direct deposits to unemployed workers affected by the virus. In short, if your salary has been affected by the virus, you can file for unemployment benefits, and you will receive $600 weekly in addition to your state’s standard benefits. These weekly checks will last through July 31.
Here’s an important side note: you are NOT eligible for these unemployment benefits if your salary hasn’t changed and you’re merely forced to work from home. These benefits are for people who have experienced major pay-cuts, been furloughed, or have lost their jobs due to COVID-19 related reasons.
How Are These Numbers Determined?
The IRS—the government entity sending out these direct deposits—will be looking at your 2019 tax information to determine your eligibility for your direct deposit under the Coronavirus Relief Bill. If you have not filed your 2019 taxes, then the IRS will use your 2018 tax information. However, the IRS is encouraging Americans to file their 2019 taxes as soon as possible to get all of their eligible benefits.
The IRS will be looking at your 2019 tax information to determine your eligibility for your direct deposit.
For example, if you recently had a child and have not filed your 2019 taxes, then you wouldn’t receive your additional $500 because your child wouldn’t be filed as a dependent on your 2018 taxes. Similarly, if you experienced a significant pay-cut in 2019, you could be eligible for a larger direct deposit under your 2019 taxes than your 2018 taxes. If you haven’t filed your taxes yet, put it on your immediate to-do list!
The IRS says they will "start sending payments to most Americans in April."
Got Loans? There’s Good News for You Too.
As a part of the Coronavirus Relief Bill, the federal government is suspending almost all (over 90%) federal loans plus interest. This includes student loans, which will be suspended until September 30! If you have taken out a loan from the federal government within the past 10 years, your loan will most likely be suspended until August 1. After August 1, you will receive notices about renewing your payments. If your loan is eligible for this suspension, you should receive a notice from the IRS within the next couple of weeks.
Like all political policies, there are always exceptions to the rule and minute details that can't be covered in an article. However, the information above will give you the basic knowledge so you can get the most out of the Coronavirus Relief Bill. As COVID-19 has given rise to economic uncertainty, we hope that you will find some relief in this bill as the government is trying to combat the economic damages of the virus on the American people.