How to Get Your CARES Act Stimulus Payment

Navigating the Online Tools From the IRS

working mother juggling children and work
••• KidStock/Getty Images

Amid the crippling economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic, more than 80 million U.S. residents were set to receive stimulus payments in their bank accounts the week of April 13. 

The payments, dependent on income, are as much as $1,200 for individuals and $2,400 for married couples who file their taxes jointly. Those with dependent children under the age of 17 receive an additional $500 for each child. 

Many people don’t have to do anything to receive their Economic Impact Payment, which was authorized under the CARES Act, a massive set of government relief measures passed in response to the outbreak of COVID-19. Tens of millions of people who have received federal tax refunds via direct deposit were expected to receive the payments electronically by April 15, the Internal Revenue Service and U.S. Treasury Department said April 13.

Here's How It Works

If the IRS already has your bank information from your 2018 or 2019 tax filing, it will deposit your payment directly into your account. If the IRS doesn’t have your bank information, you can submit the details via a new online tool called “Get My Payment.” You can also use this tool to check on the status of your payment.

People who didn’t file returns in either 2018 or 2019 may still be eligible for payments. If you didn’t make enough to file a return or you receive veterans retirement, disability, or survivor benefits, you should check your eligibility by using this tool: “Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here.” Eligible Social Security beneficiaries who didn’t file returns don’t need to do this; they will automatically receive payments, primarily electronically.

If the Get My Payment tool shows the message “Payment Status Not Available,” this could mean a number of things, including that you’re not eligible, or that the IRS hasn’t finished processing either your 2019 return or the information you submitted via the non-filers tool. Check this FAQ on the IRS website for more details.

Here’s Who Will Automatically Receive a Payment

You will automatically receive a payment if you are in one of these categories:

  • Filed a tax return in 2018 or 2019 and have a gross adjusted income that qualifies
  • Received Social Security Retirement, disability (SSDI), or survivor benefits in 2019
  • Received Railroad Retiree benefits in 2019
  • Receive veterans retirement, disability or survivor benefits

If the IRS has your direct deposit information, you don’t need to do anything. The payment was set to be deposited into your account by April 15, according to the IRS. Social Security and Railroad Retirement beneficiaries are expected to receive deposits soon afterward, while the timing on veterans benefits is still being determined.

If the IRS does not have your direct deposit information, enter your bank account information using the Get My Payment tool. This is highly recommended to make sure you receive your payment as soon as possible. You can also use this to update your mailing address if you’ve recently moved.

If the IRS does not receive your bank account information, it will mail you a check, which can take significantly longer—possibly months. Checks will be sent to the address listed on your most recent tax return, but you can file a change of address with the IRS if you have moved since then.

Here’s Who Must Take Action to Receive a Payment

If you did not file a tax return in 2018 or 2019, you may still qualify for the payment and should check your eligibility using the Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here tool. These include individuals who earned less than $12,200 or married couples who earned less than $24,400 in 2019. To make sure you fall within one of these eligible categories, check the IRS tool “Do I Need to File a Tax Return?

To make sure children are included in the calculation, non-filers with eligible dependents must use the non-filers tool to register them before April 22 at noon ET. Otherwise, non-filers will receive their $1,200 payment, but any additional money for children will be paid as part of their 2020 tax return.

Here's Who's Eligible and For How Much

The amount of your payment depends on your income, and not every American is eligible. To receive the full amount, your reported adjusted gross income must be less than:

  • $75,000 for individuals
  • $112,500 for heads of household
  • $150,000 for married couples filing jointly

Those earning at or above these amounts will receive a reduced payment, dependent on their income. Those earning more than the following amounts won't receive any payment:

  • $99,000 for individuals and married couples filing separately
  • $136,500 for heads of household
  • $198,000 for married couples filing jointly

To receive a payment, you must have a work-eligible Social Security number. (An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number doesn’t count, even if you filed taxes in 2018 or 2019.) You must be a resident alien or U.S. citizen and cannot be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return.

The charts below illustrate approximately how much you will receive in your stimulus check based on your tax filing status. Anyone who qualifies for payment also gets $500 for each child under age 17. They must have been a dependent in 2018 or 2019. As a result, babies born in 2020 don’t qualify. Dependents who are 17 and older also don’t qualify.

If you made too much in 2019 to qualify, you may still qualify in 2020 if your income falls. If your 2020 income qualifies you for the rebate, you can claim it as a credit on your 2020 tax return.

The IRS warns against potential scammers. The IRS will not call, text, email, or contact you on social media asking for personal or bank account information. Watch out for emails with links claiming to have information about your payment.

Helpful IRS Tools

Article Sources

  1. U.S. Department of the Treasury. "Over 80 Million Americans Will Receive Economic Impact Payments in their Bank Accounts This Week." Accessed April 20, 2020.

  2. IRS Free File. "Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info." Accessed April 20, 2020.

  3. Internal Revenue Service. "Economic Impact Payment Information Center." Accessed April 20, 2020.

  4. Internal Revenue Service. "Veterans Affairs Recipients Will Receive Automatic Economic Impact Payments; Step Follows Work Between Treasury, IRS, VA." Accessed April 20, 2020.

  5. Internal Revenue Service. "Treasury, IRS Launch New Tool to Help Non-Filers Register for Economic Impact Payments," Accessed April 20, 2020.

  6. United States Senator for California Dianne Feinstein. "Democrats Release Q&A on Coronavirus Response, Recovery Bill." Accessed April 20, 2020.

  7. Internal Revenue Service. "SSA, RRB Recipients with Eligible Children Need to Act by Wednesday to Quickly Add Money to Their Automatic Economic Impact Payment; IRS Asks for Help in the "Plus $500 Push." Accessed April 20, 2020.

  8. Internal Revenue Service. "Here’s How Much Individuals Will Get From the Economic Impact Payments." Accessed April 20, 2020.

  9. The Tax Foundation. "Senate Passes Updated Economic Relief Plan (CARES Act) for Individuals and Businesses." Accessed April 20, 2020.