I didn’t receive a $1,200 stimulus check earlier in COVID-19 pandemic. Will I get a $600 check this time around?

by Eren Rosa
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Dear Moneyist,

I was married and didn’t qualify for the $1,200 stimulus check based on my 2018 tax returns.

I am now divorced and filed my 2019 tax returns separately. I filed about 10 days after the traditional filing date, so I missed out on the first round.

With a second round of stimulus checks of $600 announced by Congress on Sunday, will the Internal Revenue Service give me a check based on my 2019 return?

Waiting for check(s)

Dear Waiting,

Your economic impact payment is effectively an advance on a 2020 tax credit, so you should receive a stimulus payment of up to $1,200 and $600, but they likely won’t arrive until next year, unfortunately.

In March, the IRS sent $1,200 payments to individuals with adjusted gross annual income below $75,000, and $2,400 to married couples filing taxes jointly who earned under $150,000. This time around, you can only expect a $600 check if you make $75,000 or less.

‘Eligible taxpayers who received a smaller-than-expected economic impact payment may qualify to receive an additional amount early next year.’

— Internal Revenue Service guidance

“In many instances, eligible taxpayers who received a smaller-than-expected economic impact payment may qualify to receive an additional amount early next year when they file their 2020 federal income tax return,” the IRS said.

“EIPs are technically an advance payment of a new temporary tax credit that eligible taxpayers can claim on their 2020 return. Everyone should keep for their records the letter they receive by mail within a few weeks after their payment is issued,” the agency added.

If the IRS doesn’t have a taxpayer’s direct-deposit information on file, the agency will mail checks. You can submit your bank-account and address information through the IRS tracking tool, “Get My Payment.” It should also tell you if the IRS needs more bank-account information.

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I received hundreds of emails every week from people who had not received their stimulus check in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some were listed as dependents on their parents’ tax returns, which rules them out of receiving a payment this year; others do qualify yet wondered why they have not received a payment.

If the IRS does not have your bank-account information on file, it will likely take longer. Approximately 14 million Americans, or 6.5% of U.S. households, don’t have bank accounts. Immigration status also plays a role. The government is paying American citizens, as well as some non-U.S. citizens, including “legal permanent residents” or green-card holders, according to the IRS.

Marriage to a green-card holder does not necessarily mean a second stimulus check, lawyers say. Others have had their stimulus checks garnished due to unpaid child-support payments. If you are behind on student loans, however, that will not impact your payment.

I understand that you are anxious, and I hope that you manage to hold out until next year for your check. 2020 has been a year few people will ever forget, but it’s been a time when millions of Americans are facing the most difficult circumstances together.

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There has been progress on vaccines — which, assuming they work, could eventually bring people back to their place of work. BioNTech SE BNTX, +2.13% and Pfizer PFE, -0.80% said a final analysis of their vaccine candidate showed 95% efficacy, and rolled out their first deliveries on Monday. Meanwhile, Moderna MRNA, -1.38%  said its own candidate was 94.5% effective. Vaccinations are expected to begin for the second vaccine in the U.S. on Monday.

A vaccine candidate from AstraZeneca AZN, -1.06%  and the University of Oxford is safe and effective and showed an average efficacy of 70% in a pooled analysis of interim data, according to a peer-reviewed study published last week. Efficacy was 62% for trial participants who received two full doses of the experimental vaccine, but increased to 90% among a subgroup of volunteers who received a half dose, then a full dose, according to data published in The Lancet.

The French drug company Sanofi SNY, -2.29% said this month that the COVID-19 vaccine treatment it is developing with U.K. pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline GSK, -2.13%  has been delayed due to insufficient immune response in the elderly.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.12% closed broadly flat Monday as reports of a new viral strain overshadowed fresh coronavirus aid. The S&P 500 Index SPX, -0.39%  and Nasdaq Composite COMP, -0.10% closed lower after recovering recent ground in recent weeks as investors weighed the first COVID-19 vaccine rollout and a second stimulus bill of nearly $900 billion.

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You can email The Moneyist with any financial and ethical questions at qfottrell@marketwatch.com. Want to read more?Follow Quentin Fottrell on Twitterand read more of his columns here

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