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Division of Finance and Administration

Serving UC Merced through Stewardship,
Accountability and Excellence

Coronavirus Tax Relief

Economic Impact Payments (“Stimulus”): What you need to know

Updated: As of 4/14/2020

As the situation remains very fluid, please check back here regularly for updates.

The U.S. Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced that distribution of Economic Impact Payments (“stimulus payments”) will begin this week and will be distributed automatically, with no action required for most people. More information on these payments, as well as other relief pertaining to COVID-19, will be posted to the IRS Coronavirus Tax Relief and Economic Impact Payments website as it becomes available. In the interim, we would like to provide the UC Merced community some additional clarification on some frequently asked questions.

Resources

Internal Revenue Service

UC Merced

Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

Who may qualify for the stimulus payment?

Eligible taxpayers who filed tax returns for either 2019 or 2018 will automatically receive a stimulus payment of up to $1,200 for individuals or $2,400 for married couples and up to $500 for each qualifying child. A Social Security Number (SSN) is required to receive a stimulus payment. Those that receive Social Security and/or Railroad Retirement Benefits may receive a stimulus payment and do not need to have filed a zero-liability tax return.

Based on one’s Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) from 2018 or 2019 Federal tax flings (AGI for 2018 and 2019 can be found on Line 7 of Form 1040):

Single filing status taxpayer*

  • If AGI is less than $75,000 - $1,200 stimulus payment
  • If AGI is between $75,001 - $99,000 – Phase-out of $1,200 stimulus payment
  • If AGI is more than $99,000 - $0 stimulus payment
  • *Taxpayer not claimed as a dependent or qualifying child on another person’s tax return

Married couple taxpayers

  • If AGI is less than $150,000 - $1,200 stimulus payment
  • If AGI is between $150,001 - $198,000 – Phase-out of $1,200 stimulus payment
  • If AGI is more than $198,000 - $0 stimulus payment

Dependent or Qualifying Child claimed

  • Up to $500 per dependent or qualifying child. Phase-outs of stimulus payments apply.
  • If you’ve been claimed as a dependent on someone else’s 2019 tax return, you are not eligible to receive the stimulus payment.

The key factor is your household's annual income as the stimulus payment is aimed at helping low- and moderate-income families. Individual taxpayers will get $1,200 each if their Adjusted Gross Income is less than $75,000 and married households will receive $2,400 if their Adjusted Gross Income is less than $150,000. (Adjusted Gross Income for 2018 can be found on Line 7 of Form 1040, for example. Go to IRS.gov for more information.)

Phase-outs of stimulus payments

Tax filers with Adjusted Gross Income up to $75,000 for individuals and up to $150,000 for married couples filing joint returns will receive the full payment. For filers with income above those amounts, the payment amount is reduced by $5 for each $100 above the $75,000/$150,000 thresholds. Single filers with income exceeding $99,000 and $198,000 for joint filers with no children are not eligible.

How will the IRS know where to send my stimulus payment?

Most people do not need to take any action. The IRS will calculate and automatically send the stimulus payment to those eligible.

  • For people who have already filed their 2019 tax returns, the IRS will use the 2019 tax filing information to calculate the stimulus payment amount.
  • For those who have not yet filed their 2019 tax return, the IRS will use their 2018 tax filing information to calculate the stimulus payment amount.

The stimulus payment will be deposited directly into the same banking account reflected on 2019 tax returns (or 2018 tax returns, if you have not filed your 2019 tax return yet).

I need to update my direct deposit information or mailing address with the IRS for the stimulus payment. How do I do that?

Use the IRS Get My Payment application (coming mid-April) at the IRS Coronavirus economic impact payment website to let the IRS know your bank account information if the IRS doesn't have your direct deposit information and they haven't sent your payment.

If you moved since you last filed, let the IRS know your new mailing address.

Under Federal tax laws, if there is no banking information on file, the IRS must send a notice of payment, by mail, to your last known address. The notice will include a phone number at the IRS to contact if you didn’t receive the payment to your current bank account.

I have a tax filing obligation but have not filed my tax return for 2018 or 2019. Can I still receive a stimulus payment?

If you have not filed for tax years 2018 or 2019, please visit the IRS website for guidance.

Will the IRS send a notice to me regarding the stimulus payment?

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.

Will I owe taxes on the stimulus payment?

No, you will not owe taxes on the stimulus payment. The Federal CARES Acts specifically states the payment will not be taxable. While the stimulus payments are technically an advance refund on 2020 taxes owed, if you miraculously make more money this year and end up in the phase-out category noted above, current guidance appears to state that you won’t have to return the money to the U.S. government or pay additional taxes on the stimulus payment.

I do not have a tax filing obligation. I am not a dependent on someone’s 2019 tax return and don’t receive Social Security or Railroad Retirement benefits. Can I still receive a stimulus payment?

For those who don’t normally file a tax return, the IRS launched a secure new web tool allowing quick registration for the stimulus payments. The tool provides a free and easy option designed for people who don’t have a return filing obligation. Visit the link above, look for “Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here”, determine if you meet the criteria noted, then provide basic information including Social Security number, name, address, and dependents. The IRS will use this information to confirm eligibility and calculate and send a stimulus payment. People in these groups who have qualifying children under age 17 can use this application to claim the $500 payment per child.

Using the tool to get your stimulus payment will not result in any taxes being owed. Entering bank or financial account information will allow the IRS to deposit your payment directly to your account. Otherwise your payment will be mailed to you.

How long are the stimulus payments available? How can I find out if they processed or sent my stimulus payment?

More information can be found on the following IRS website.

UC Merced Students and Parents

I pay for more than half of my own support. Do I need to file a tax return to be eligible for a stimulus payment?

Independent UC Merced students not claimed by their parents or another person as a dependent should visit the IRS website for guidance and in determining their stimulus payment eligibility.

Who qualifies as a dependent?

Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Publication 501 defines a dependent for tax purposes as a qualifying child or qualifying relative.

High school seniors, college students, and adult children living at home who do not provide more than half of their own support (parents or others pay expenses, including medical costs), are a dependent for tax purposes so long as the other criteria above apply as noted in IRS Publication 501.

Under current Federal tax laws, a child under the age of 19 at the end of the year, who lives with their parent(s) for more than half of the year and has not provided more than half of his or her own support for the year, qualifies as your dependent, so long as he or she doesn’t file a joint return for the year.

For example, a full-time student under the age of 24 at the end of the year is also a dependent for tax purposes to a parent or another person, even if they live mostly at college—if they provide more than half of the full-time student’s support and the student is not married and filing a joint return.

If you’ve been claimed as a dependent on someone else’s 2019 tax return, you are not eligible to receive the stimulus payment.

I am a parent of a UC Merced student. Is there an age limit on claiming my child as a dependent or qualifying child on my tax returns?

As noted on the IRS’s FAQ website, to claim your child as your dependent, your child must meet either the qualifying child test or the qualifying relative test and additional tests:

To meet the qualifying child test, your child must be younger than you and either younger than 19 years old or be a "student" younger than 24 years old as of the end of the calendar year.

There's no age limit if your child is "permanently and totally disabled" or meets the qualifying relative test.

If I qualify for tax purposes as a dependent by my parent(s) or another person, but I want them to simply not claim me as a dependent. Will I then qualify for the stimulus payment?

There is no additional guidance from the IRS website this time. Under current Federal tax laws, if you qualify as a dependent, you're a dependent unless you're otherwise excluded by Federal tax laws. If you are not claimed as a dependent or qualifying child by the parent or another person, that does not mean that you may or may not be their dependent for tax purposes under Federal tax laws.

For purposes of getting up to $500 per child dependent, the Federal CARES Act uses the same definition for a child, dependent or qualifying child as the child tax credit. For the child tax credit, the child must be under age 17 at the end of the tax year. That means that you will not get the $500 stimulus payment for a child 17 years or older, even if they are a dependent for tax purposes or provide more than half of their economic support.

If I do not receive a stimulus payment could I potentially be eligible for the stimulus payment (tax credit) when I file my 2020 tax return?

There is no current guidance from the IRS at this time. The stimulus payment is technically a tax-free tax credit to apply to your 2020 individual taxes owed. The US government is providing the stimulus payment before you would file your 2020 tax return due on April 15, 2021.

If your past 2018 or 2019 earned income amount disqualifies your stimulus payment eligibility, but your 2020 income earned is below the 2020 qualifying threshold and meets all criteria, you may be able to obtain the stimulus tax credit on the 2020 tax return.

Will the stimulus payment affect my financial aid?

Please see the UC Merced COVID-19 Updates for Financial Aid Students website for details.

I am 17 years old or older and a student at UC Merced. I can and/or will be claimed as a dependent or qualifying child on my parent’s or another person’s tax return. Am I eligible for the stimulus payment?

According to the IRS, any person who is 17 years old or greater who is claimed as a dependent or qualifying child on another person's tax return is not eligible for an individual or child stimulus payment.

That means college students ages 17 to 23 whose parents pay for more than half of their expenses and claim them as a dependent for tax purposes on their individual tax returns won't get payments. Likewise, adults with disabilities and elderly people who are claimed as a dependent on a family member's tax return are not eligible.

Non-US Citizen Students (Foreign and DACA Students)

I am a Non-U.S. Citizen who is a Nonresident Alien (NRA) for tax purposes. Will I receive a stimulus payment?

According to current IRS information, if you are Nonresident Alien for tax purposes for tax years 2018 or 2019 OR do not have a valid Social Security Number, you are not eligible for the stimulus payment. If you filed Form 1040-NR or Form 1040NR-EZ, Form 1040-PR or Form 1040-SS for 2019, you are not eligible for stimulus payment.

If I am a Non-U.S. Citizen and a Resident Alien (RA) for tax purposes. Will I receive a stimulus payment?

According to current IRS information, if you are Resident Alien for tax purposes for tax years 2018 or 2019 you may be eligible for the stimulus payment if you meet all other stimulus payment requirements.

If you have not filed for tax years 2018 or 2019, please visit the IRS website for guidance.

I am a DACA status individual with a Social Security Number. I have filed a 2018 and/or 2019 individual tax return. I am not claimed as a dependent on another person’s tax return. Will I receive a stimulus payment?

According to current IRS information, if you are not a dependent on another person’s tax return, have filed a tax return for tax years 2018 or 2019, and meet all other requirements you will receive a stimulus payment via direct deposit or as a live check via US mail.

If you have not filed for tax years 2018 or 2019, please visit the IRS website for guidance.

What if myself or spouse does not have a Social Security number? Will I get a stimulus payment?

To get a stimulus payment, an individual must have a Social Security number. The Social Security Administration issues Social Security numbers to all citizens, permanent residents, and some non-citizens who are authorized to work in the US (such as DACAs). If a couple files jointly, but only one person has a Social Security number, neither will be eligible for a stimulus payment, except in the case of military families, according to the Tax Policy Center.

UC Merced Faculty and Staff

I’m a UC Merced employee that claims a dependent or qualifying child on my tax return. Will I be eligible for the stimulus payment?

You will receive up to $500 for children 16 years old and younger if you were able to claim them for the Child Tax Credit on your 2018 or 2019 tax filings.

If you have a dependent OR qualifying child who is 17 years old or older who you claim on your 2018 or 2019 tax return, they don't qualify for the $500 payment.

Will I owe payroll taxes on the stimulus payment? Do I need to contact UC Merced Payroll Services or UCPATH to get the stimulus payments?

No, you will not owe payroll taxes on your stimulus payment. The Federal CARES Acts specifically states the payment will not be taxable. The payment is not taxable or reportable wages or affect your earnings in UCPATH. The payment is directly managed by the Internal Revenue Service, not by UC Merced Payroll Services or UCPATH.

Additional Questions

If I owe money to the U.S. Government will I still get a stimulus check?

Generally, the U.S. government will reduce (offset) tax refunds if money is owed to them. There is no clear guidance from the IRS if stimulus checks will be seized to pay a tax or federal debt owed. Please check with the IRS website by clicking here.

I heard the tax return filing and payment deadlines have changed?

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the deadlines to FILE and PAY Federal income taxes to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) are extended to July 15, 2020.

For Coronavirus US Federal tax information visit the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website: https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus.

Additional IRS information for students: https://www.irs.gov/individuals/students.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the deadlines to FILE and PAY State of California income taxes to the Franchise Tax Board (FTB) are extended to July 15, 2020.

For Coronavirus State of California Franchise Tax Board FTB) information please visit: https://www.ftb.ca.gov/about-ftb/newsroom/covid-19/index.html.