Non-Filed Returns and Economic Impact Payments
In March 2020, Congress passed the CARES Act, which dedicated $2 trillion to boosting the economy through various types of funding. This includes economic impact payments to individuals, which were designed to help people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The payments are distributed according to your income level and how many dependent children you’ve claimed on your taxes. But what happens if you didn’t file taxes in the last few years?
Read on to learn more about what to do if you haven’t filed taxes recently. If your tax situation is complicated, especially due to failure to file, consult a tax professional for individual assistance.
Am I eligible to receive a payment even if I am not required to file taxes?
Many people will automatically receive their economic impact payment, even if they weren’t required to file taxes in the last few years. If you receive Social Security retirement payments, disability benefits, Supplemental Security Income, Railroad Retirement benefits or Veterans Affairs benefits, you should get your check without having to file additional paperwork. However, if you have dependent children under 17 and did not file a return for 2018 or 2019, you will need to fill out the IRS’ Non-Filers form in order to receive the additional credit for your children.
If you miss the deadline for non-filers who have qualifying dependent children, you will receive your own economic impact payment, and the $500 for each child will come back to you when you file your 2020 tax returns next year.
Individuals making under $12,200 and married couples filing jointly making under $24,400 typically do not need to file income tax returns. If you were not required to file a return for 2019, you will have to fill out the IRS’ Non-Filers form.
When can I expect my money?
The IRS is sending out the stimulus checks in waves. Many Americans (around 88 million) have received theirs already, either through direct deposit to the bank account the IRS has on file, or through postal mail if they paid their taxes by check.
However, there are many more individuals, particularly low-income families and those receiving Social Security benefits, who have not received their economic impact payments—even though the Social Security retirement, SSI, SSDI, Railroad Retirement and Veterans Affairs recipients should have gotten their checks automatically. According to MarketWatch and the IRS, these groups should start receiving their checks starting April 27, 2020. Veterans Affairs and SSI recipients who have dependent children, but are normally not required to file taxes will start seeing their benefits after May 5, 2020.
If you’re waiting for your check in the mail, it could take up to 20 weeks to receive; the IRS is prioritizing the lowest-income households as it mails out 5 million checks per week.
Wondering where your payment is? Check the IRS’s Get My Payment tool to check on the current status and where your payment will be sent.
Will I still get a payment if I failed to file taxes?
If you’ve failed to file your taxes in the past few years—that is, you were required to but failed to do so—you will need to file your missing tax returns before seeing a stimulus check. Luckily, even if you owe the IRS money, they will not garnish your economic impact payment, since it’s designed to be emergency relief during the COVID-19 crisis. However, your check may be garnished or seized entirely for unpaid child support and other debts.
Dealing with unfiled returns and unpaid back taxes can be an overwhelming task, particularly if you’re worried about having to pay money that you may owe from years past. However, the IRS is generally amenable to making an affordable payment schedule. Contacting a tax professional can help you understand what you can expect, what kind of payment options you’ll have and what you need to do to get your economic impact payment.
How long will the stimulus checks be available?
The IRS has guaranteed economic impact payments to all qualifying Americans and permanent residents throughout 2020, and any delayed minor child payments will be made along with your 2020 tax return.
When you need professional tax, accounting and payroll services, call R.L. Hinton, CPA, PC. We also offer consulting for small businesses, offering expert guidance so you can take advantage of the right opportunities and ensure smooth operations. Reach out today to learn what we can do for you.