The IRS announced on March 30 that distribution of economic impact payments in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic would begin in the next three weeks. On April 1, the Treasury Department clarified that Social Security and Railroad Retirement benefit recipients who are not required to file a federal tax return will not have to file a return in order to receive their economic impact payment.
Eligibility Based on Returns, Generally
Eligible taxpayers who filed tax returns for either 2019 or 2018 will automatically receive an economic impact payment of up to $1,200 for individuals, $2,400 for married couples, and up to $500 for each qualifying child. The payment amount will be reduced based on adjusted gross income (AGI). The phase-out begins at AGI above $75,000 for single individuals, $150,000 for joint filers, with the payment amount reduced by $5 for each $100 above the thresholds. Single filers with income exceeding $99,000 and $198,000 for joint filers with no children are not eligible.
The IRS will generally base the payment amount on information from:
- the 2019 tax return for taxpayers who have filed their 2019 return; or
- the 2018 tax return for taxpayers who have not yet filed the their 2019 return.
1099s Used for Certain Recipients
The IRS will use the information on the Form SSA-1099 or Form RRB-1099 to generate economic impact payments to recipients of benefits reflected in the Form SSA-1099 or Form RRB-1099 who are not required to file a tax return and did not file a return for 2018 or 2019. This includes senior citizens, Social Security recipients and railroad retirees who are not otherwise required to file a tax return.
These recipients will receive these payments as a direct deposit or by paper check, just as they would normally receive their benefits.
No payments for dependents, currently. Since the IRS would not have information regarding any dependents for these recipients, each person would receive $1,200 per person, without the additional amount for any dependents at this time.
The IRS has addressed other common queries related to economic impact payments:
- Calculating and depositing the payment: The IRS will calculate and automatically send the economic impact payment to those eligible. The economic impact payment will be deposited directly into the same banking account reflected on the 2019 tax returns filed by taxpayers.
- Direct deposit information: A web-based portal for individuals is being developed to provide the taxpayers’ banking information to the IRS online, so that they can receive payments immediately as opposed to checks in the mail.
- Taxpayers who have not filed their tax return for 2018 or 2019: The IRS urges taxpayers with an outstanding tax filing obligation for 2018 or 2019 to file sooner to receive an economic impact payment. Taxpayers should include direct deposit banking information on their tax returns.
- Availability of economic impact payments: The IRS states that for those concerned about visiting a tax professional or local community organization in person to get help with a tax return, the economic impact payments will be available throughout the rest of 2020.
Even though it currently has a reduced staff in many of its offices, the IRS assures taxpayers that it remains committed to helping eligible individuals receive their payments expeditiously. The IRS urges taxpayers to visit its Coronavirus Tax Relief webpage ( https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus for updated information related to economic impact payments, rather than calling IRS assistors who are helping process 2019 returns.
For the latest information on the economic impact payments, see the IRS’s “Economic impact payments: What you need to know” webpage ( https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/economic-impact-payments-what-you-need-to-know).