Coronavirus direct payments: Who qualifies and for how much

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WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) – With the House poised to pass the $2 trillion coronavirus relief package Friday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin expects most Americans to receive at least $1,200 in cash by next month.

Mnuchin said during the daily White House coronavirus task force briefing, “This will be within the next three weeks, direct payments into most people’s deposit accounts.”

“There’s nothing they need to do other than sit tight and wait for the money to arrive,” said Nicole Kaeding, a vice president of the National Taxpayers Union Foundation.

Kaeding explains the U.S. Treasury Department will simply use information from Americans’ most recent tax returns or Social Security benefits. Direct deposit payments should hit bank accounts within three weeks, with physical checks taking six weeks to arrive.

According to the bill, individuals earning up to $75,000 and heads of households earning up to $112,500 will receive $1,200. Married couples earning up to $150,000 will get $2,400. Then they will also receive an extra $500 per child up to 16 years old.

“These benefits will not be taxable and they will not impact your eligibility for any other government programs,” Kaeding said.

But not everyone qualifies for the cash, like adult dependents and those who do not have a Social Security number.

Kaeding said people who are homeless or who recently got out of prison are eligible if they have a recent tax return.

If you have not filed your 2019 tax return, Kaeding said the Treasury can use information from your 2018 return or you can wait until the next time you file.

“If an individual doesn’t receive a payment here in the next two months, do know that if they file a tax return for 2020, they would get the money at that point some time next year,” she said.

According to Kaeding, that could also help those Americans who made too much money in 2019 to qualify but end up making less this year.

The relief package also provides loans to large corporations, grants to small businesses and more unemployment benefits.

“Twelve-hundred dollars is not enough to keep someone afloat for three months,” Kaeding said. “But it, plus the other benefits, is going to have a big impact on helping affected individuals and businesses weather this storm.”

The federal government last issued similar checks to citizens in 2008 as the country entered the recession.

Both the Trump administration and Congress have discussed a fourth relief package to address the coronavirus pandemic.

Kaeding predicts a second round of checks to Americans if lawmakers reassess in April that they need to make adjustments to the recent legislation.

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