Now that the stimulus checks are officially being delivered, the VERIFY team is getting a lot of questions about how they work and what everyone needs to do.
Here are some of the most asked questions.
Note: If someone has a question that isn’t answered in this article, fill out the form at the bottom of the page and the VERIFY researchers will start digging.
THE CHECKS ARE NOT TAXED
The CARES Act granted qualifying Americans' money in the form of a tax credit on their 2020 taxes. The money we’re getting now is an advance refund on the credit.
Since it’s considered a federal income tax refund, it isn’t taxed.
Anyone can read the specifics of the credit and refund on pages 144-148 of the CARES Act.
YOU DON’T HAVE TO PAY IT BACK
Because of the setup of a credit being sent to everyone as an advanced refund, many have asked if they will have to pay this money back or if it will be subtracted from their refund at the end of 2020.
The answer to both is no.
Americans do not have to pay this check back. While it's likely will show up on someone's taxes when they file in 2021, but it won’t affect their normal taxes.
Essentially, Congress is giving everyone a tax break next year, and sending the money right now.
Since it’s a credit, Americans won’t have to pay it back. The money most qualify for is theirs to keep and use. If someone normally gets a refund or owe taxes at the end of the year, this credit won’t affect their normal taxes.
To read more on how this works, check out our previous article.
IS THE 'IRS STATUS PAGE' A LEGITIMATE SITE?
While it’s always good practice to avoid putting your social security number and other personal information into websites, there is a legitimate IRS site that can tell you the status of your refund.
To access the real IRS page, go to IRS.gov/coronavirus/economic-impact-payments and click on “Get My Payment.”
It will ask you to put in your SSN, your date-of-birth and your address.
As long as you’re on the IRS.gov site, you should be good to go.
Once you’ve clicked through the prompts, the official domain should read: sa.www4.irs.gov/irfof-wmsp/login.
THE IRS PAGE ISN’T WORKING!
Multiple viewers have reported that the IRS Page wasn’t working when they attempted to check on the status of their check.
The IRS site has seen a large amount of traffic and was occasionally prompting users to check back later.
If the site doesn’t load for you, that doesn’t mean anything about your stimulus check. Try waiting a few hours and loading it again.
WHAT IF YOU'RE RETIRED?
Retirees will also be eligible for the check.
Those on Social Security and Railroad Retirement Benefits will be automatically eligible, regardless of whether they filed their taxes in 2019 or 2018. The IRS will use Form SSA-1099 and Form RRB-1099, instead of tax forms.
Those on Supplemental Security Income will not be automatically eligible for the payment, without filing taxes first.
HOW DO I KNOW IF SOMETHING IS A SCAM?
The Federal Trade Commission has offered a series of tips to make sure you don't become a victim of scams surrounding the Stimulus Checks.
Tip 1: You don't need to do anything.
According to the FTC and the IRS, most of us do not need to take any action to receive our checks. If you filed your taxes in 2018 or 2019, the IRS has all your information. The same can be said about Social Security recipients and those with Railroad Retirement Benefits.
The only people who may need to take action are those who have not filed taxes, and are not eligible for the programs listed above.
Tip 2: There's no 'sign-up.'
The FTC didn't mince words on this topic: "Anyone calling to ask for your personal information, like your Social Security number, PayPal account, or bank information, is a scammer, plain and simple."
Tip 3: Setting Up Direct Deposit.
Checks are expected to be distributed far faster for those getting direct deposit. For that reason, many who typically receive mailed checks may be attempting to change to direct deposit.
The FTC emphasizes that this type of communication should only be done at irs.gov/coronavirus. Never share your banking information in response to a phone call, text message, or email.
Something you’d like VERIFIED? Click here to submit your story.