The payments, said to be $1200 per taxpayer plus $500 per qualifying child, would be distributed automatically, with no action required for most people, including Social Security beneficiaries who are not typically required to file tax returns. However, some taxpayers who typically do not file tax returns will need to submit a simple tax return to receive the economic impact payment.
According to IRS.gov,
IRS officials say the latest information regarding the payments and timing will be made available on IRS.gov/coronavirus as soon as the information becomes available.
The Federal Trade Commission warns consumers to be on the lookout for scam artists trying to use the economic impact payments as cover for schemes to steal personal information and money.
FTC officials said on April 1st that the details of how and when the payments will be made were still coming together, but they did know the following:
- You don’t need to do anything. As long as you filed taxes for 2018 and/or 2019, the federal government likely has the information it needs to send you your money. Social Security recipients and railroad retirees who are otherwise not required to file a tax return also do not need to do anything to receive their money. If you otherwise have not filed taxes recently, you may need to submit a simple tax return to get your check. (More on who’s eligible here.)
- Do not give anyone your personal information to “sign-up” for your relief check. There is nothing to sign up for. Anyone calling to ask for your personal information, like your Social Security number, PayPal account, or bank information is a scammer, plain and simple. Also be on the lookout for email phishing scams, where scammers pretend to be from the government and ask for your information as part of the “sign-up” process for the checks.
- To set up direct deposit of your check, communicate only with the IRS at irs.gov/coronavirus. And you only need to do this if you didn’t give the IRS your bank information on your 2018 or 2019 return. In the coming weeks, the IRS will be setting up an online form available through irs.gov/coronavirus. But nowhere else, and never in response to an email, text, or call.
- No one has early access to this money. Anyone that claims to is a scammer. The timeline for this process is not exact, but it looks like funds will start going out in the next few weeks. Scammers are using the lack of detail to try to trick people into giving their personal information and money.
HOW CAN YOU USE YOUR PAYMENT
The payment, regardless of whether it arrives as a direct deposit or mailed check, is a federal tax credit (not taxable income) and yours to use as you choose.
For many, the EIP will replace a portion of lost earnings while furloughed or unemployed due to the stay at home order. It will go toward utility bills, groceries, rent and mortgage payments and other essential expenditures.
A grassroots effort to bolster the severely impacted small business community has been launched asking those who can to pledge their EIP for expenditures a local small businesses. Organizers note that not all businesses will be open soon and gift card purchases available from many small businesses is an option.
Are you a Ferndale area business that has been closed during the stay at home order and offers gift cards or other prepaid purchase options while closed? If so, send instructions for how people can make these purchases to firstname.lastname@example.org. This information will be shared in a future story.