Am I Eligible for a Stimulus Check?
By Liz Zitzow
These are technically known as Economic Impact Payments. If you live abroad, you may be eligible.
- You are a US citizen anywhere in the world OR you are a non-US citizen who was physically resident in the US in 2018 or 2019 and also resident in 2020.
- You filed a 2018 or 2019 return before the cheques were issued.
- Your income was below the threshold. For Single and Married Filing Separately, it’s worldwide income less than $75,000. For Head of Household, it’s worldwide income less than $112,500. For Married Filing jointly, it’s $150K. If it’s only a bit more than this, they’ll give you a reduced amount.
I didn’t file my 2018 return yet. Will I still get it?
- If you are resident in the US in 2020 or if you are a US citizen anywhere in the world, absolutely! But the timing may be as late as mid 2021 as you may have to file your 2020 return to get it. If you didn’t file because your gross worldwide income is less than $12K, there’s a special website where you can update your details: https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/non-filers-enter-payment-info-here This site is not for use by people who earned more than $12K of income worldwide including investment income.
I did file my 2018 return. When will I get it?
- If you had a refund direct debited to a US bank account, then it will happen when it happens to everyone else. That’s “soon”. You’ll have to be patient at it takes a lot of time and effort to make so many payments.
- If you filed 2018 by the extended deadline of 15 October and had a balance due, no refund, or had your refund sent by cheque, then it will be posted to the address on your 2018 return. The IRS is heavily understaffed and will not be processing any change of address forms before the cheques go out. Therefor, make sure whoever is there now knows that it’s coming. If you’d rather have it direct deposited, they can only direct deposit to US bank accounts. Here’s the website for arranging the direct deposit: https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/get-my-payment
- If you filed the 2018 return after the extended deadline, they’re going to take quite a while to getting around to processing your return. It normally takes twelve weeks but in lockdown it could take considerably longer. Only once it has been processed can you go to https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/get-my-payment to get the cheque.
- If you haven’t yet filed and your worldwide income in each of the years 2018 and 2019 is over $12,000, file them now. With luck, they will be processed in time for you to get your cheque before the start of the 2020 US tax season. If it isn’t processed by then, the only way to get the payment will be to file your 2020 tax return in 2021 and get it that way.
- If you were a non-US citizen who left the US on or before 31 Dec 2019, you aren’t entitled to the money. If they send it to you accidentally, great! Cash the check. If they don’t send it, you can’t complain. If they sent it to an old address, you could ask them to reissue it, but they aren’t likely to once they realize you are no longer US resident.