Economic Impact Payments: What You Need to Know | United Way of Metropolitan Dallas

Economic Impact Payments: What You Need to Know

As unemployment rises and so does the need for life’s essentials, the federal CARES Act was designed in part to help individuals and families via direct one-time stimulus payments. Here’s a guide to some of the most important questions you might be asking.


Under the CARES Act, most American citizens who made less than $75,000 in 2019 should receive $1,200 in one stimulus payment ($2,400 for couples who file taxes jointly, making less than $150,000). In addition, taxpayers in that category should receive $500 for each child under the age of 17 who’s claimed as a dependent. Taxpayers making more money may be eligible for reduced payments depending on income. For details on eligibility, visit the IRS economic impact payment information center.


Eligible individuals who filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return with direct-deposit authorization should receive their payments automatically from the IRS—about 80 million Americans should already have received their deposits. Individuals can track payment status here.

Those who have not filed tax returns in 2018 or 2019, or who do not have direct deposit information on file with the IRS, can find information about updating their bank account or mailing address here. In addition, the IRS urges taxpayers to file 2019 taxes as soon as possible (although the official deadline has been extended to July 15) to accelerate their economic impact payments. Electronic filing will speed things up as the IRS cannot currently process paper returns.

Individuals who weren’t required to file a tax return in 2018 or 2019 can submit basic personal information for payment distribution here.

Individuals without income—as well as those whose income comes from Social Security, Railroad Retirement, disability or veterans’ benefits—should receive payments automatically. If you receive Social Security or other federal benefits, and also file taxes for other income, the amount of your economic impact check will be based on your latest tax return. If you haven’t yet filed for 2019, it will be based on 2018 tax returns.

For those receiving payment by mail rather than direct deposit, the IRS has warned that it could take several more weeks, or even months, to get those payments.

As of late April, undocumented immigrants who have Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers rather than Social Security Numbers are not eligible for economic impact payments, regardless of whether they pay income taxes. However, Leave No Taxpayer Behind legislation has been introduced in the House of Representatives, which would expand payments to immigrants with ITINs.

No matter how you receive your payment, the IRS will send you a letter by mail to the most current address they have on file, about 15 days after they send your payment. The letter will let you know what to do if you have any issues, including if you haven’t received the payment.


Your economic impact payment won’t be subject to most types of federal offset or federal garnishment due to defaulted student loans or tax debt. However, payments will be garnished if you’re behind on child support.


Many Americans have reported technical issues with the IRS website, or that they’ve not been able to reach an actual live person through calling the IRS. Others have said they’ve gotten the wrong amounts, or checks have been deposited into old bank accounts. In a few cases, checks have been sent to deceased individuals. If a taxpayer used a filing service such as H&R Block and their tax refunds for 2018 or 2019 went through the service, there could be delays receiving stimulus payments.

The IRS and U.S. Treasury have asked Americans to try to remain patient as they work out the glitches. There will be time to make amends: Most economic impact payments will be available through the end of 2020.


An increasing number of scammers are taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to target vulnerable individuals. Thousands of email, telephone and texting scams have already been tracked, and many relate to economic impact payments. To avoid scams, check out our list of known schemes and things to watch for.

For suggestions on how to make the most of your economic impact payment, check out our post Five Things to do with your Coronavirus Stimulus Check. We’ve also compiled several additional coronavirus income resources on our blog.

This article was published on: Apr 28, 2020