Why don’t I have my stimulus check yet?

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We answered 20-something common questions 20-somethings sent us about work, finances and higher education during the coronavirus pandemic. (graphic by Giana Han | [email protected]).

The stimulus check guidelines are laid out on the IRS website and seem basic, yet there are still so many questions.

For people in periods of transition, especially young adults in college, graduating or recently graduated, it can be unclear whether stimulus checks will be arriving in their bank accounts. Even experts can find the guidelines hazy, but we tried to clear up some common questions young adults are asking:

How do I track my check?

You can track the status of your stimulus check through the IRS Get My Payment tool.

What if it went to the wrong person?

If your stimulus check was sent to an account number you don’t recognize, you should contact your tax preparer and then wait for a letter from the IRS.

Based on conversations AL.com had with some taxpayers, there’s some indication this may be affecting people who filed their taxes with a tax preparer. Other reports suggest some who used the popular tax preparation companies H&R Block and TurboTax also had this problem.

“If the account is closed or no longer active, the bank will reject the deposit and you will be issued a check that will be mailed to the address we have on file for you. This is generally the address on your most recent tax return or as updated through the United States Postal Service (USPS). You do not need to call the IRS to change your Payment method or update your address at this time. As required by law and for security reasons, a letter about the Payment will be mailed to each recipient’s last known address within 15 days after the Payment is made. The letter will provide information on how the Payment was made and how to report any failure to receive the Payment,” according to the IRS.

I’m not sure if I’m a dependent because I’m right on the line. How do I determine my dependency status?

If you are claimed as a dependent or if you qualify for dependent status, you are not eligible for a stimulus check. If your parents qualify for the stimulus and you are 17 or younger, your parents will get an additional $500. If you’re over the age of 17, your parents will not get the additional $500, even if you are a dependent or live in their home.

Knowing if you qualify as a dependent can seem complicated. Here are some general guidelines:

You may qualify as a dependent if you are under 19 or a full-time student under the age of 24

· If your parent(s) or guardian(s) provide more than half of your income

· If you’ve lived with your parent(s) or guardian(s) more than half the year, though exceptions apply

However, being eligible to receive a stimulus check doesn’t all depend on your age. If, for example, you are 22, married and work and file joint tax returns with your spouse, you are not eligible to be claimed as a dependent, even if you are a full time student. In that scenario you would be a potential candidate for a stimulus check.

If you are 23, a full time student, and rely on your parent(s) or guardian(s) for more than half of your annual income, you are eligible to be claimed as a dependent and are likely not a potential candidate for a stimulus check.

To qualify as a full-time student according to the IRS, the person must be, during some part of five months of the year be a full-time student at a college or university or be a student taking a full-time, on-farm training course given by a school or by a state, county, or local government agency. The five months do not have to be consecutive.

“It’s also important to be aware that a parent can’t just choose NOT to claim a child as a dependent in order to let the child claim himself, if he qualifies under the rules for dependents below age of 24. In other words, parents of a child under 24 they support can’t just say ‘we release you,’” said Brad Garland, a certified public accountant at Brand Blackwell & Co. in Huntsville.

However, everyone should take the time to check their own status using the “Get My Payment” tool provided by the IRS.

If you’re still unsure about your dependent status, talk to a tax professional.

I’m in my early 20s and this is my first year working. I haven’t filed a tax return based on my current income. Will I be able to get adequate unemployment? Will I get a stimulus check?

Typically, unemployment is based on your past income, but you may be able to receive unemployment benefits based on the limited work history you have if you meet the eligibility requirements. That also applies if you are now partially employed or unable to work because of COVID-19-related issues, McIntosh said.

For the stimulus checks, you should meet the requirements if you have a valid social security number and are not claimed as a dependent. If you didn’t file a 2019 tax return because you didn’t make enough to file taxes in 2019 (under $12,200 for individuals or under $24,400 for couples) or for some other reason aren’t required to file taxes and can’t be claimed as a dependent, you can report your income and bank information through the IRS website. Garland said you should be eligible for a stimulus check, even if you made zero income last year. You’ll ultimately qualify for the relief credit based on your 2020 income tax situation, he said.

Garland is urging people to only submit income and bank information through the IRS website. He said the IRS will never initiate a phone call with you.

“[You] want to be sure you do everything through irs.gov. Don’t use a third party website.”

My parents still support me but I have a job. Should I file independently to get a check?

If you are eligible for dependent status (see above for more on dependent status), you are not eligible for a stimulus check. However, you may be eligible for unemployment. Alabama residents can file unemployment claims at labor.alabama.gov.

If you could file independently or as a dependent, you should consider how much your parents’ tax liability will increase.

“If their tax liability increases more than what their kids will get as their stimulus check, then it makes no sense that their children file independently,” McIntosh said.

What if I’m not making enough to file a tax return? What do I do?

For the stimulus checks, if you didn’t file a 2019 tax return because you didn’t make enough to pay taxes in 2019 (under $12,200 for individuals or under $24,400 for couples) or for some other reason aren’t required to pay taxes and can’t be claimed as a dependent, you can use the “Get My Payment” IRS tool to submit your information. You should be eligible for a stimulus check, even if you made zero income last year.

I receive disability or social security benefits. Am I eligible for a stimulus check?

Yes, you are eligible.

My parents claimed me as a dependent already for 2019. But I have a job now because I just graduated. Can I still get a check?

If you no longer qualify for dependent status (see question #12 and #13), you may qualify for a stimulus check. However, Garland said he’s not received any further guidance from the IRS on eligibility for individuals whose dependent status has changed this year. Check with a tax professional for guidance on dependent status.

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