Where’s my money? Federal stimulus checks explained


Gerald Maib

By Aaron Hutchinson, Reporter


In March, Congress passed sweeping legislation to counteract the dire economic situation brought on by the novel coronavirus, including payments to individual Americans, commonly known as stimulus checks. The checks have caused quite a bit of confusion among EWU students who want to know if they are eligible for payments and how much money they will actually get.

What are Economic Impact Payments?

Economic Impact Payments, commonly referred to as stimulus checks, are part of the $2.2 trillion Federal Coronavirus Relief Law (CARES Act). The stimulus checks are meant to help individuals and families through the economic downturn associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Who is eligible?

U.S. citizens with a valid social security number may be eligible for payments, regardless of whether they have worked in the last year or filed a tax return. However, U.S. citizens that can be claimed as a dependent on another filer’s tax return are not eligible. For example, a 19-year-old EWU student would not be eligible if they are still claimed as a dependent by their parent, even if the student was working. Students who were not claimed as dependents will likely be eligible.

Additionally, high-income filers will receive a reduced payment or no payment at all. Payments start getting reduced at $75,000 for single filers and $112,000 for married filers. No payment is received once income levels pass $99,000 and $198,000 respectively.

How do I get a payment?

U.S. citizens who have filed tax returns in 2018 or 2019 and provided the IRS with direct deposit information do not need to take any action. Filers who have not provided the IRS with direct deposit information can do so at IRS.gov. Payments began getting deposited into bank accounts on April 14 and will continue as fast as the IRS can process them.  People who did not file tax returns in 2018 or 2019 and cannot be claimed as a dependent by someone else can go to IRS.gov to claim a payment.

How much money will I get if I’m eligible?

Individuals will get $1200 and married couples who filed a joint tax return will get $2400. Additionally, families will receive $500 for dependents under the age of 17. If a dependent is over the age of 17, which may be the case with many EWU students, the family will not receive the additional payment. 

Where do I go if I have more questions?

IRS.gov has information to help individuals find out if they are eligible and tools to provide the necessary information to receive a payment.