Last week, we discussed the business impact of the stimulus package and today we’re going to discuss how this impacts you personally and what it means to your family. What does the stimulus do for the W2 employee? What does the stimulus package offer if you have been laid off? We are discussing changes to the tax deadline, the tax stimulus payments, what happens to your stimulus payment if you owe money to the IRS, unemployment and more as we all navigate through COVID-19 and the stimulus package recently released by the government.
What we cover in this episode:
- 01:12 – Intro
- 03:05 – Tax deadline updates
- 06:39 – Tax stimulus payments
- 09:03 – How will you receive your stimulus check?
- 12:47 – What happens to my stimulus check if I owe money to the IRS?
- 14:00 – Stimulus calculator
- 15:08 – Unemployment
- 20:30 – Community assistance
- 23:35 – Paid family leave
- 27:45 – Student loan relief
- 28:43 – Retirement plan changes
Tax deadline updates
As most people know, the tax deadline has been extended. The typical deadline is April 15th for individuals and C corporations, but this has been extended to July 15th. No penalties or interest are going to accrue as long as you file and pay by July 15th. Typically, in order to extend the deadline, you had to file Form 4868. It is unclear at this time if you will have to file that form if you want to extend the deadline past July 15th and how long that extension will be. As of right now, if you haven’t filed by July 15th, then you will start incurring penalties and interest. Things could definitely change between now and then for the IRS and the treasury department, but currently you do not need to file Form 4868 to extend the tax deadline.
Even though the deadline is a few months away, it’s a good idea to know where you stand with your taxes. If you’re going to owe money, it’s best to know that prior to July 15th. Having a better handle on any amount owed sooner rather than later will allow you to plan ahead and set money aside so you don’t incur penalties and interest. If you know you have a refund coming on the other hand, file as soon as you can. The treasury department is encouraging everyone that will be receiving a refund to file as soon as possible. The IRS wants to get the money into your hands as soon as possible during these times so instead of receiving your money in the 2-3 weeks it typically takes, many people are receiving their returns relatively quickly.
Tax stimulus payments
The payments are supposed to start this week, the week of April 13th, 2020. The IRS will be reviewing your 2019 income tax return if you have already filed. If you haven’t filed your taxes for 2019, they then will look at your 2018 tax return. Your stimulus payment will be based on your adjusted gross income (AGI), which can be found on line 8B of your Form 1040. If you are an individual with an AGI below $75,000, you’re going to receive $1200. If you are married, filing jointly, and your AGI is below $150,000, then you will receive $2400. The stimulus payments are then phased out above those limits.
You will also receive a $500 payment for each dependent. This dependent part of the package follows the child tax credit laws so the child has to be under 17 in order for you to receive that payment.
What if you made more than the amounts listed above? For individuals who have made over $75,000 and less than $99,000, then the stimulus payment amount is tiered down. The same applies to married filing joint returns if the AGI is between $150,000 and $199,000, the amount is tiered down. For individuals who made more than $99,000 and couples who made more than $199,000, you will likely not receive a stimulus payment.
If you’d like to get a better idea of what you can expect, please feel free to use this stimulus check calculator, created by Forbes.
If you receive social security but do not file a tax return, you will still receive the stimulus payment. However, if you have dependents while on social security and have not filed a tax return, you will not receive the $500 payments for them. Most people on social security who have dependents typically do file a tax return because they want to get that child tax credit, earned income credit and will be eligible for much of the refundable tax credits. If you have questions about this situation, please speak with your tax preparer.
How will you receive your stimulus check?
If the IRS has your direct deposit information from a previous tax return, they will use that information to send the money. If the IRS does not have your direct deposit information, they are planning to develop a web-based portal which will allow you to provide your bank and account information for the stimulus payment. If they do not have any of your information and you don’t enter it into the new portal, they will mail you a check.
What happens to my stimulus check if I owe money to the IRS?
If you owe money to the government or are in default for student loans, you may be wondering if you will receive your stimulus check. We have seen some people asking if the IRS will apply that to any past tax debt. The answer, in general, is no. The only situation that would disqualify you from receiving the stimulus payment is if you are behind on child support obligations and have been reported to the treasury department.
A great tool to help you calculate the payment amount you might receive, is this stimulus calculator that Forbes put together. You’ll enter your AGI, the number of dependents, and how you file and it will compute the dollar amount you can expect to receive.
The most important thing to note when it comes to unemployment is that each state must adopt what was passed federally. The new federal unemployment law was part of the stimulus package, but your state has to adopt the federal package for it to apply, so please do the research for your state to ensure you are covered.
Another big difference between this new act and traditional unemployment is that under the federal program, self-employed individuals and independent contractors can also apply. In addition to normal state benefits, which ranges from state to state, there’s actually an additional $600 per week that will be paid to individuals for up to four months. Benefits are going to last longer as well. Regular state unemployment typically pays for 26 weeks, but the CARES act allows payments to extend for an additional 13 weeks.
Even prior to this pandemic, most unemployment agencies were already running behind. Many people have tried calling to get assistance and they aren’t able to get through on the phone lines. Some states are giving blocks of time to help with the masses, such as if you live in this area code, please call between 8am and 10am. If you need to call, try calling first thing in the morning as it could be a bit less busy.
Individuals who haven’t been laid off, but can’t work due to a variety of reasons related to COVID-19, would also be eligible for unemployment. Individuals who were diagnosed with COVID-19, waiting for a diagnosis, or had a family member that was diagnosed could also be eligible for unemployment benefits. Additionally, workers who are furloughed, but haven’t been fully laid off are also eligible. The 7-day waiting period before an unemployed worker can get benefits, which is a standard feature of most states’ unemployment systems, is being waived to help individuals receive cash as quickly as possible.
This has been discussed in other episodes, but reach out to your community and talk to your neighbors. There are restaurants that are doing fundraiser programs where they’re asking for donations for families who can’t afford food and offering assistance for those in need. Many people are pulling together in communities and it’s amazing to see. Remember that you are not alone. Everybody is feeling very isolated because you are stuck at home, however, there are ways of reaching out and social media offers a way to connect to others and your community.
Paid family leave
The new law expands the family leave provided in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act that President Trump signed into law on March 18. The bill covers workers in businesses with fewer than 500 employees. Those covered by the act can get up to 12 weeks of family leave (with the first two weeks unpaid) if they must stay home with children whose schools and day care centers have closed because of the pandemic.
The expansion allows individuals who were laid off on or after March 1, but then rehired before the end of 2020, access to this family leave. Have a discussion with your HR department or manager if you feel you might not be rehired. To be eligible for this leave, you must have worked in that job 30-60 days before the initial layoff.
The benefit paid to individuals eligible for this family leave is two-thirds of pay, with a maximum of $200 per day, or an aggregate $10,000 per worker. In other words, it can be a maximum of $1,000 per week. Your employer will cut the family leave checks and then get reimbursed by the federal government through the IRS.
Paid sick leave
Employees (both part-time and full time) will get 80 hours of paid sick leave at full pay, capped at $511 per day, or an aggregate $5,110 per worker, with part-timers receiving a proportionate number of hours. Individuals who are unable to work or telework because they are under medical quarantine or treatment for COVID-19, suspect they have the illness or are ordered to quarantine at home are eligible for the pay.
Additionally, individuals who are staying home to care for someone else who has COVID-19 or is suspected of having it, or who have a child whose school or day care is closed because of coronavirus, are eligible for two-thirds of pay capped at $200 per day, or an aggregate $2,000 per worker.
Student loan relief
The Department of Education implemented student loan relief measures last week. The stimulus package expands those measures, giving protection to borrowers pursuing loan forgiveness programs and those who have defaulted loans. Interest will not accrue on federal student loans from April through September 30th, 2020 and no payments must be made.
Retirement plan changes
The CARES Act has created the ability for individuals to withdraw up to $100,000 from retirement accounts such as a 401(k) or an IRA account in total without having to pay a 10% penalty, if they are under age 59½, as long as the funds are repaid to the account within three years. You may need to provide documentation to provide that it was a coronavirus-related distribution or financial hardship.
Normally, individuals who withdraw funds early from retirement accounts early (typically before age 59 1/2) must pay a 10% penalty as well as ordinary income taxes. The stimulus relief package, however, provides that “coronavirus-related” distributions of up to $100,000 will be allowed, without the early withdrawal penalty being applied. The sum withdrawn may be re-contributed to a retirement account within three years, without being subject to the usual annual contribution caps. If it’s not repaid, the withdrawal will be taxed at ordinary income tax rates over a three-year period.
In addition, the limit for retirement plan loans has been temporarily raised from the normal $50,000 to $100,000, while the current rule that loans may not exceed half of a 401(k) participant’s vested account balance has been waived.
Meanwhile, required minimum distributions (RMDs)—which those over 72 must take from traditional IRAs, SEPs and 401(k) accounts (but not from Roth accounts)— have been waived for 2020. You do not have a required minimum distribution for 2020.
Check with your mortgage company about options for relief if you need them. Some are offering interest only and others delaying payments (adding them on to the end of your loan). There is mortgage relief under the Act as well and it’s a six month deferment, but it’s only if your mortgages are held with Freddie, Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae. If you are experiencing hardship, call your mortgage holder to see what they’re offering because it may vary from each financial institution.
If you rent, ask your landlord for relief options. Your landlord may be willing and able to pass some deferment to you so it’s worth asking.
Look at recurring charges
Look at your credit card and checking account to see if there are subscriptions that you thought you’d cancelled but didn’t. Or there could be automatic renewals for programs you’re not using.
Call your utility companies
Call your cell phone, internet, cable company to see if they have any new promotions or relief that may be available.
Know your bare bones budget
It can be difficult to look at finances depending on your relationship with money, but you have to be in control of them. This becomes even more critical during a crisis. Knowing what you need to get by versus luxury expenses can help you find what you could cut out if needed.
The tax deadline has been extended from April 15th to July 15th. There are no extensions needed and no penalties or interest will accrue. We recommend filing as soon as possible if you are receiving a refund and getting a good idea of what you owe so you can avoid any penalties and make a timely payment when needed.
We then discuss stimulus checks and some of the details surrounding amounts, as well as a helpful stimulus check calculator. We also discuss how you can expect to receive your stimulus check and what happens to your stimulus payment if you owe money to the IRS.
The next topic we tackle is unemployment. There are many details that are a part of the federal tax package, but it is important to note that these only apply if your state is implementing them since unemployment is run by your state.
Please remember that your community can be a great resource to lean on while you’re waiting on government assistance or need support in other ways. Many small businesses are banding together to provide food for those in need and individuals are working tirelessly to make masks and do amazing things to help each other.
There is also paid family leave and paid sick leave, as well as student loan relief that can assist you and your family during this difficult time. In addition, there have been some retirement plan changes to note if that applies to you.
We wrap up the episode with some individual tips to help you and your family. There are many changes coming at us constantly. It’s important to consider your options and take advantage of the help that is available as we all experience these unprecedented times ahead.