Stimulus Package

"I'm not sure if I qualify to receive the stimulus check"

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) recently signed into law provides stimulus funds to Americans affected by coronavirus. In a nutshell, the bill provides funding for $1,200 in Economic Impact Payment (also called stimulus payment) to individuals with annual incomes below $75,000, with additional payments of $500 per each qualifying child.

Whether or not you qualify for the coronavirus stimulus check depends on whether:

I am still in foster care. Will my foster parents get the stimulus check?

Based on information provided by the Washington State Department of Children, Youth, and Families, foster parents are eligible to receive stimulus checks for any foster children claimed on either their 2018 or 2019 taxes:

"Are foster children eligible for payment from the Coronavirus stimulus package?

Foster parents will receive stimulus checks for their foster children if they claimed those children on their tax returns. The stimulus checks, as we understand it, will be based upon either 2018 or 2019 tax returns, depending on if the filer has filed 2019 returns or not. Foster parents may claim a foster child on their taxes if they meet a number of criteria:

  • Child was placed with them for the majority (over 6 months) of the tax year

  • Child is under the age of 19 at the end of the year or under 24 if a full-time college student for at least 5 months of the year or a permanently totally disabled person during the year.

  • Child or youth didn’t provide more than 50 percent of their own support and maintenance payments don’t count in this calculation.

This may result in situations where a foster parent receives funds for a child no longer placed with them or a foster parent has a placement but does not receive funds for them. This is being handled at the federal level and therefore we do not have much control or influence on the process. — Washington State Department of Children, Youth, and Families (source)

On April 14, 2020, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare sent a letter to foster families which states similar information:

"The CARES Act will utilize tax returns from the year 2018, or 2019 if you have already filed, in determining the stimulus provided to each qualifying family. As resource parents, you may have claimed a child living in your home that is in foster care according to IRS Tax guidelines for a Qualifying Child. What this means is that you may receive a stimulus payment for a qualifying foster child who resided with you in 2018, but who has since been reunified. While there is no clear guidance yet from the IRS what to do in this situation, we did want to make you aware of this potential issue." — Miren Unsworth, Administrator Division of Family & Community Services, Idaho Department of Health and Welface (source)

I aged out of foster care. Will I receive the stimulus check?

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will start sending payments to most Americans in April. The payments are automatic for most taxpayers. No further action is needed by taxpayers who filed tax returns in 2018 and 2019.

The IRS provides information about who is eligible to receive the stimulus check automatically:

"Who is eligible for the Economic Impact Payment?

U.S. citizens or resident aliens who:

  • Have a valid Social Security number,

  • Could not be claimed as a dependent of another taxpayer, and

  • Had adjusted gross income under certain limits.

Who will receive the Economic Impact Payment automatically without taking additional steps?

Most eligible U.S. taxpayers will automatically receive their Economic Impact Payments including:

  • Individuals who filed a federal income tax for 2018 or 2019

  • Individuals who receive Social Security retirement, disability (SSDI), or survivor benefits

  • Individuals who receive Railroad Retirement benefits"

— Internal Revenue Service (source)

What if you haven't filed taxes in 2018 or 2019?

If your annual income is under $75,000 for individuals, $112,500 for head of household filers, or $150,000 for married couples filing joint returns, but:

  • You did not file a 2018 or 2019 federal income tax return because your gross income was under $12,200 ($24,400 for married couples). This includes people who had no income. Or

  • You weren’t required to file a 2018 or 2019 federal income tax return for other reasons.

In these cases, you will have to use the "Non-Filers: Enter Your Payment Info" application to provide additional information (like your name, mailing address, email address, date of birth, social security number, bank account information, etc.) so you can get your payment.

What if you don't have a bank account?

If you don't use direct deposit, you can expect to get a paper check in the mail. However, some experts estimate it could take months for physical checks to make it to households.

If you cannot wait for months, the fastest way to get the stimulus payment is by opening a bank account and providing your direct deposit information to the IRS. Here’s a list of safe and affordable accounts that are Bank On certified institutions.

The IRS said in a news release on Friday that it is releasing a new tracker tool on April 17 so people can see the status of their stimulus payment. It will also allow those who haven't yet provided direct-deposit information to do so.

Are there other reasons why you might not be able to receive the payment?

Aside from having too high an income, reasons that would make you ineligible to receive the stimulus check include:

  • Being a college student: Anyone categorized as a dependent won’t qualify for the stimulus payment. This includes any child under the age of 19 at the end of the year, but also full time students under the age of 24, even if their parents don’t actually claim them.

If you're a student and legally considered a dependent, you should consider filing a tax return with the IRS even if you have no taxable income, to be eligible for a stimulus check. Learn how to file taxes here.

  • Owing child support: Stimulus checks might be withheld if an individual owes child support money.

Is this all still very confusing?

Walk through the process step-by-step using this website by Poverty Solutions University of Michigan and Civilla, designed specifically to ensure low income residents can get their federal stimulus checks as soon as possible. The information is relevant to people across the country, not just in Michigan, and is also available in Spanish and Arabic.

You can also use this resource by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities on accessing stimulus checks.

Missing a resource?

Contact us at [email protected] so we can add it.