The Internal Revenue Service is beginning the process of sending out economic relief payments. Americans who filed a tax return in 2018 or 2019, as well as seniors who receive Social Security retirement, disability payments or Railroad Retirement benefits, do not have to do anything.
The IRS will use the tax return or other government payment information on file to send the money, which could be a maximum of $1,200 per individual or $2,400 for married couples who file jointly, to these eligible recipients.
Some people, however, do not fall into these already on-record categories, most notably those low-income workers who do not make enough money to require that they file a Form 1040. These taxpayers, though, could benefit greatly from the added cash. The IRS has launched an online tool (https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/non-filers-enter-payment-info-here) to help them get their economic impact payment from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act relief.
COVID payment filing for non-filers: The new Non-Filer Payment tool is designed for use by single filers who in 2019 made less than $12,200 and married couples who earned less than $24,400 and did not or do not plan to file a tax return.
If someone can be claimed on their parents’ tax return, they will not be eligible for the Economic Impact Payment and cannot use the Non-Filer tool.
Before you start: As with all interactions you will need some information in hand before you start.
In the case of the non-filer online tool, you'll have to provide your:
Full name, current mailing address and an email address
Date of birth and valid Social Security number
Bank account number, type and routing number, if you have one and want your payment directly deposited. (If you don't have a bank account, your COVID-19 payment will be mailed to the address on the form.)
Identity Protection Personal Identification Number (IP PIN) you received from the IRS earlier this year (if applicable)
Driver’s license or state-issued ID, if you have one
For each qualifying child: name, Social Security number or Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number and their relationship to you or your spouse
Entering your info: After an introduction page again spelling out who should and should not use it, the special web page will ask you to create an account.
This account creation process was designed for the IRS by Intuit, maker of TurboTax and a member of the Free File Alliance that works with IRS' Free File online tax return preparation and e-filing option. In this case, it's based on the fillable forms option, which takes basic tax returns and makes then accessible to be filled out via computer and then electronically filed.
Privacy alert: Check out the new web page's privacy statement. Once you're satisfied and/or comfortable with the process, then you'll enter your email address, a user name, password and an option phone number.
Neither the IRS nor Intuit will call you, according to the registration instructions. The phone number will be used, according to the page, only to help recover your account if you forget your password.
After you are done with this account creation page, go to your email (in a new browser window) and find the message from the IRS. It will have a link asking you to verify the email account. Do that. Your email must be verified before you can, a little later in the process, e-file your return.
Short COVID tax form: As for the return itself, it's pretty basic. Below are some screen shots.
The images above are three screen shots.
To get a bigger, better look at each segment, click on each image.
The key area is in the middle section, where it asks for your bank information (routing number and specific account number) and whether it's a checking or savings account. This info will let the IRS directly deposit your COVID-19 relief payment.
If you do not have a bank account, the payment will be mailed to the address you have entered.
E-filing the form: Step 2 is the actual electronic filing of the form.
This is where things might get a bit uncomfortable, especially for folks who have not filed a tax return for a while. In fact, this page could be quite intimidating.
The online non-filer tool asks for info from your 2018 tax return, such as your adjusted gross income (AGI), which is Line 7, or a signature Personal Identification Number (PIN).
If you did not file a return for the 2018 tax year, enter 0 (zero) in the "Taxpayer" AGI space. If you are filling out this form jointly with your spouse and they did not file a return last year either, also enter zero in the "Spouse" AGI space.
Click on the image to see it larger.
E-signing, e-filing your return: Next, you will have to sign your return electronically. Start by entering the date, cell number if you have one, and a five-digit PIN of your choosing (other than 00000 or 12345) for both you and your spouse, if filing jointly.
You will also have to enter your (and spouse's) birth date(s) and, if you (and spouse) have one, your state issued driver's license or ID card number.
Then to the final step. Continue to e-file.
You will get an onscreen message that your form has been filed. The non-filer tool also says it will send you a verification and filing status update to the email your provided.
More online COVID payment help on the way: The Non-Filer tool that went live today is just the first of online options to help everyone who qualifies get their COVID-19 relief payments.
The IRS says it is building a second new tool to help everyone check on the status of their payments. It should be available for use by April 17. This option, dubbed Get My Payment, will provide people with the status of their payment, including the date their payment is scheduled to be deposited into their bank account or mailed to them.
An additional feature on Get My Payment will allow eligible people a chance to provide their bank account information so they can receive their payment more quickly rather than waiting for a paper check.
This second COVID-19 online payment option, expected to be operational by April 17, will help everyone check on the status of their payments. Treasury says it will be an online app that will display on any desktop, phone or tablet, meaning you won't have to download anything from an app store.
To track your payment's status, you will need to enter your Social Security number, date of birth and your mailing address.
Adding bank information: Get My Payment also will give COVID-19 payment-eligible individuals the opportunity to provide their bank account information so they can receive their payment more quickly as a direct deposit rather than waiting for a paper check.
In addition to the basic identifying information needed to track your payment, if you want to add direct deposit delivery data you also will be asked to provide the following additional information:
The AGI amount from your most recent (specifically, your 2018 or 2019) tax return,
The tax refund or amount of tax owed from their latest filed tax return, and, of course,
Your bank account type (checking or savings) and the account and routing numbers.
If you want to get your COVID-19 check by direct deposit, then get that info together now so that as soon as Get My Payment opens, you can enter it.
Direct deposit change limits: While the option to add direct deposit information for the COVID-19 payments is welcome, Treasury notes that Get My Payment will not allow you to change any bank account information that you previous gave the IRS in connection with a refund.
This no-account-alteration limitation is to protect against potential fraud.
Also, the Get My Payment tool won't let you enter bank information if your COVID payment has already been scheduled for delivery via snail mail.
For security reasons, the IRS plans to mail a letter about the economic impact payment to the taxpayer’s last known address within 15 days after the payment is paid. The letter will provide information on how the payment was made and how to report any failure to receive the payment. If a taxpayer is unsure they’re receiving a legitimate letter, the IRS urges taxpayers to visit IRS.gov first to protect against scam artists.