What to Know About the Coronavirus Stimulus Checks Coming to Americans

Many Americans will start to receive a $1,200 check next week, part of the government's historic $2 trillion stimulus package to combat the swift economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic,

Here's what we know about the money that's soon to land in the pockets of millions of Americans.

coronavirus stimulus checks
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) building stands on April 15, 2019, in Washington, D.C. Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty

Who qualifies?

According to the Internal Revenue Service, which is overseen by the Treasury Department, you will receive money if you:

  • Have a Social Security number.
  • Filed tax returns for 2018 or 2019.
  • Don't have an income or don't make enough to file a tax return but are eligible retirees and recipients of Social Security, Railroad Retirement and disability or veterans' benefits, as well as Supplemental Security Income benefits.
  • Are an individual whose adjusted gross income was less than $99,000.
  • Are the head of household who made less than $136,500.
  • Are a couple who filed jointly and made less than $198,000 combined.

How much will I get?

  • Individuals who made less than $75,000 and head of households who made less than $112,500 will receive $1,200. Married, joint filers who made less than $150,000 will receive $2,400.
  • Payments for incomes above these amounts will be reduced by $5 for each $100 over each respective threshold.
  • Each filing with a child younger than 17 will receive an additional $500 per child.

How and when will I receive the money?

  • Direct deposits could come as soon as early next week for those who use direct deposit for their tax returns of government benefits, the Treasury Department told Newsweek.
  • Checks will be mailed to those who don't receive their tax returns or benefits via online banking. These are not expected to be issued until the week of May 4, according to a House Ways and Means Committee memo, a congressional panel that oversees the Treasury. It could take up to 20 weeks to dole out all the checks. Social Security beneficiaries who did not file tax returns in 2018 or 2019 and receive their benefits via direct deposit may have to wait until the end of April.
  • Some low-income workers and certain veterans and individuals with disabilities who don't file tax returns may need to take additional steps. Find out if you're one of those people here.
  • The IRS will mail a letter about the payments to each person's last known address within 15 days after the payment is paid. It will include information about how the payment was made and how to report if you did not receive one.

Can debt collectors seize my stimulus check?

That's a concern that two senators—Democrat Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Republican Josh Hawley of Missouri—raised in a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Thursday.

  • Under the law, the checks cannot be "reduced, or 'offset,' for past tax debts or other debts owed to federal or state governments," the duo said, adding that the only permissible offset set by Congress is for unpaid child support.
  • But when it comes to debts apart from child support, Brown and Hawley indicated there are no current protections in the law from debt collectors seizing some of the stimulus money. The lawmakers pushed Mnuchin to apply a current Treasury rule, which states two months of Social Security and Supplemental Security Income are protected, to the stimulus checks or to use authority under the law to issue new guidance.
  • "If Treasury fails to take action, the CARES Act direct payments are at risk of being seized by debt collectors. That is not what Congress intended," Brown and Hawley wrote. "We came together to pass the CARES Act to help American families pay for food, medicine, and other basic necessities during this crisis. To carry out Congress's intent and ensure that American families receive the help they need, we ask that you immediately exercise your authority to protect these payments from private debt collectors."

Treasury did not respond to Newsweek's request for comment.

Will this money be taxed?

  • No, the stimulus checks will not be taxed and will not count toward future taxable income, according to the fact-checking site Snopes.