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COVID-19

What you need to do to get your COVID-19 stimulus check

David Brancaccio, Nancy Marshall-Genzer, and Alex Schroeder Mar 31, 2020
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If the IRS has your direct deposit details, you don’t need to do anything. Spencer Platt/Getty Images
COVID-19

What you need to do to get your COVID-19 stimulus check

David Brancaccio, Nancy Marshall-Genzer, and Alex Schroeder Mar 31, 2020
If the IRS has your direct deposit details, you don’t need to do anything. Spencer Platt/Getty Images
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Update: This story originally published on March 31. Late Wednesday, April 1, the Treasury Department announced that Americans who receive Social Security do not have to file a “simple tax return” in order to receive a stimulus check from the federal government. Those individuals will receive the checks automatically. This reversed an earlier statement from the IRS.


The IRS and Treasury Department say they’ll start sending COVID-19 economic impact payments in the next three weeks. These are the checks to individuals and families included in the latest coronavirus aid package passed by Congress and signed by the president.

Marketplace’s Nancy Marshall-Genzer has the details on how this money will get out. The following is an edited transcript of her conversation with the Marketplace Morning Report’s David Brancaccio.

Nancy Marshall-Genzer: If the IRS has your direct deposit details, you don’t need to do anything. The IRS will use the information from your 2019 tax return, or your 2018 return if you haven’t filed for last year yet.

David Brancaccio: But what if the IRS doesn’t have your bank information?

Marshall-Genzer: So, if you did file a tax return but got a refund or paid the IRS by a paper check, or if your direct deposit information has changed, you’ll need to get your bank details to the IRS. The agency says it’s developing what it calls a “web-based portal” where you can upload your direct deposit information.

Brancaccio: And who’s eligible for these payments?

Marshall-Genzer: Taxpayers within income limits, but also people who don’t normally owe taxes: seniors, low-income individuals and people with disabilities. They need to file what the IRS calls a “simple tax return.” That includes their filing status, dependents and direct deposit information. Individuals will get the full $1,200 payment if their adjusted gross income is below $75,000. That goes up to $150,000 for married couples. Parents get $500 per child. After those income thresholds, the payments phase out.


Check IRS.gov for the latest information. The FAQ page is here.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

Millions of Americans are unemployed, but businesses say they are having trouble hiring. Why?

This economic crisis is unusual compared to traditional recessions, according to Daniel Zhao, senior economist with Glassdoor. “Many workers are still sitting out of the labor force because of health concerns or child care needs, and that makes it tough to find workers regardless of what you’re doing with wages or benefits,” Zhao said. “An extra dollar an hour isn’t going to make a cashier with preexisting conditions feel that it’s safe to return to work.” This can be seen in the restaurant industry: Some workers have quit or are reluctant to apply because of COVID-19 concerns, low pay, meager benefits and the stress that comes with a fast-paced, demanding job. Restaurants have been willing to offer signing bonuses and temporary wage increases. One McDonald’s is even paying people $50 just to interview.

Could waiving patents increase the global supply of COVID-19 vaccines?

India and South Africa have introduced a proposal to temporarily suspend patents on COVID-19 vaccines. Backers of the plan say it would increase the supply of vaccines around the world by allowing more countries to produce them. Skeptics say it’s not that simple. There’s now enough supply in the U.S that any adult who wants a shot should be able to get one soon. That reality is years away for most other countries. More than 100 countries have backed the proposal to temporarily waive COVID-19 vaccine patents. The U.S isn’t one of them, but the White House has said it’s considering the idea.

Can businesses deny you entry if you don’t have a vaccine passport?

As more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the economy continues reopening, some businesses are requiring proof of vaccination to enter their premises. The concept of a vaccine passport has raised ethical questions about data privacy and potential discrimination against the unvaccinated. However, legal experts say businesses have the right to deny entrance to those who can’t show proof.

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