Americans starting to receive economic impact payments

Published: Apr. 13, 2020 at 3:29 PM CDT
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Americans are starting to receive economic stimulus checks from the federal government, as part of the

Anyone earning up to $75,000 in adjusted gross income and who has a Social Security number will receive a $1,200 payment. Parents will also receive $500 for each qualifying child. The payment steadily declines for those who make more.

Individuals who make more than $99,000, and couples who combine to make more than $198,000 do not qualify to receive a stimulus payment under the current recovery plan related to COVID-19.

Most eligible Americans don't need to do anything to get their payment. This includes people on social security and those who collect disability benefits.

The IRS is using 2018 and 2019 tax returns to distribute payments through direct deposit or checks sent in the mail.

Those who moved since filing their 2018 or 2019 taxes and don't have direct deposit and those who did not make enough income to file a tax return or 2018 or 2019 need to follow a couple of steps to make sure they get their money.

The IRS has tools on its

to provide updated information.

Eyewitness News spoke with a credit counselor who emphasizes the importance of prioritizing spending for those who receive the financial boost and feel the economic impacts of COVID-19.

"I've always said, 'keep the roof over your head, food in your mouth, utilities on.' So, make those your first priorities," Consumer Credit Counseling Service Executive Director Jeff Witherspoon says. "Make sure you're current with all utilities, rent, mortgage. Buy a little extra food, but put the money into savings, so you have it in case the car needs repaired, (or your) water heater goes out."

Jeff Witherspoon says the service which is offered free of charge, has been getting more request for financial advice.

"We've been getting a lot of questions, they can't pay their rents, so we're trying to give guidance. Again that $1,200 check could hopefully pay for that," he says. "I had a gentleman call first thing this morning, said that he has a payday loan that he's's behind on and I suggest that maybe he can get that caught up if he needed to. Another gentleman called to say that his car payments behind, so I said maybe you can use that stimulus check to get your car current."

He says this is a good time to assess your finances and plan, as this crisis has no definite end date.

"I think [budget for] 90 days just to be on the safe side. I think we could be into the summertime before some of this finally curtails. There's still some unknowns about the virus so we don't know if they'd let us get back to whatever normal is going to look like, will they have to turn around and pull it back out because you've got to be careful because this thing is dangerous," says Witherspoon.

For those not in dire need of the extra stimulus money, Witherspoon says this could be an opportunity to help out your long term finances or the community.

"If your situation is better, you're not unemployed, and you can pay down some high-interest rate debt. It'd be a good time to consider doing something like that," said Witherspoon. "If you're really in a good place, it really wouldn't be a bad idea to maybe donate some of it. United Way could really use your help right now."

Later this month, the IRS is expected to launch a tool allowing people who haven't already done so, a chance to provide direct deposit information and eliminate the need for physical checks sent in the mail.

By April 17, the IRS says you'll be able to track the status of your stimulus check through its

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