(January 20, 2021 11:06 AM) A website aims to make sure Michiganders receive their federal stimulus checks as soon as possible.
The Coronavirus Stimulus Payment website—developed by Poverty Solutions at the University of Michigan in partnership with Detroit-based nonprofit design firm Civilla—walks people through a step-by-step process to ensure they’ve provided the IRS with the information necessary to receive their stimulus checks.
The vast majority of Michigan residents were eligible for the stimulus checks made available by the federal CARES Act signed into law last spring. A second round of stimulus checks was approved by Congress and signed into law last month.
If people received their spring 2020 stimulus checks, the winter 2020-21 check will be delivered the same way and they don’t need to take any additional action. If people did not receive their spring 2020 stimulus check and think they’re eligible, they can get both payments by claiming the Recovery Rebate Credit on their 2020 tax forms. If people received the wrong amount for either stimulus check, they can claim the Recovery Rebate Credit on their 2020 tax forms to get the correct amount.
Receiving the stimulus money really depends on having current tax information filed with the IRS — even for people with low or no income who normally don’t file taxes. There are a few free tax preparation services listed on the website.
The maximum amount for this second round of stimulus checks is $600 for any eligible individual or $1,200 per eligible couple who file taxes jointly. For a family of four, that would include $600 for each eligible dependent, or $2,400 in total. Individuals who reported adjusted gross income (AGI) of $75,000 or less on their 2019 tax returns will receive the full $600 ($150,000 or less AGI for couples filing jointly; $112,500 or less for heads of household). For people who earned more than those amounts, the size of the check will gradually decrease by $5 for every $100 earned over that threshold.
Because the maximum size of a stimulus check this time is half the size of the first round, some people who earn more than $75,000 per year and got a check in the spring may not get one in the second round. Roughly estimated, individuals who earned more than $87,000 in 2019, couples that made more than $174,000, and head of households who earned more than $124,500 may not get payments in the second round.
This second round uses similar criteria to determine which dependents are eligible. That means only children age 16 and younger claimed on a 2019 tax return qualify. But this time, each eligible child dependent will receive a payment worth $100 more than the first round. Adult dependents are not eligible for a stimulus check if they were claimed as a dependent on a 2019 tax return.
For this second round, if you earned significantly less in 2020 than you did on your 2019 tax return, you could be eligible for a refundable tax credit for the amount you should have received for your second payment when you file your 2020 tax return.
For most people, the stimulus checks will be directly deposited into the bank account provided on their most recent tax returns or delivered via the Social Security system, starting this month. But people who don’t file taxes, don’t have a bank account or move frequently and don’t have a stable address where the check can be mailed face barriers to receiving their stimulus checks.
The website has information on how to open a safe and affordable bank account, how to file a simple tax return for free, and how to provide the IRS with a current address (although it still could take up to five months to receive a stimulus check by mail).
“While eligibility for these funds is nearly universal, we are concerned about administrative procedures that could end up denying or delaying stimulus checks to the most vulnerable people,” said H. Luke Shaefer, director of Poverty Solutions and the Hermann and Amalie Kohn Professor of Social Justice and Social Policy at U-M. “Relief measures must include provisions to ensure the timely delivery of aid to the people who need it most.”
Poverty Solutions, a universitywide initiative that aims to prevent and alleviate poverty through action-based research, analyzed national data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation and found the unbanked, people who don’t file taxes and recent movers are disproportionately concentrated among the poor.
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