The government stimulus checks soon coming to millions of Americans will be tax-free

The US House of Representatives is expected to pass a $2 trillion coronavirus relief package on Friday. If the president signs the bill into law, millions of Americans will receive one-time direct payments in the coming weeks to help offset the ongoing financial burden caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

These stimulus checks, formally called “recovery rebates,” will be delivered to Americans via direct deposit or US mail, and they won’t be taxed as income, according to Nicole Kaeding, the vice president of policy promotion and an economist at the National Taxpayers Union Foundation.

In order to qualify to receive a payment, you need to have a Social Security number and be a resident of the United States. Nonresident aliens, people without a Social Security number, and adult dependents are not eligible.

The adjusted gross income (AGI) listed on the most recent tax return you filed will determine how much you get. The maximum payment is $1,200 for single filers with an AGI below $75,000 or single parents with an AGI below $112,500. Married couples who file jointly and have an AGI below $150,000 will get a total of $2,400.

Payments will begin to phase out at a rate of $5 for each $100 over the AGI threshold before ceasing at an AGI of $99,000 for single filers, $146,500 for heads of household, and $198,000 for married filers. There’s also an additional $500 allotted to parents who have an AGI within the phaseout range for each child under age 16.

Americans who haven’t had to file a tax return in recent years but get Social Security payments for retirement or disability will also be paid. 

Kaeding says Americans will have to report the amount they received on next year’s tax return to ensure their payment was correct. If the check was too big, they likely won’t have to repay the government, she explained on Twitter.

Lawmakers are pushing to get the payments out within three weeks to Americans who have direct deposit set up with the IRS. For people who don’t, or those who haven’t filed a tax return for 2019 or 2018, checks could take several weeks to arrive by mail.

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