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KPBS Midday Edition Segments

Stimulus Money Is On It's Way To Millions Of Americans Bank Accounts, Or Mail Boxes

 April 15, 2020 at 11:07 AM PDT

Speaker 1: 00:00 Meanwhile, millions of California and should be seeing stimulus money from the federal government in their bank accounts this week. Others will be getting mail checks in the coming weeks. Checks bearing the name of president Donald J. Trump. The goal is to get the money quickly circulating in the battered economy. Joining me to discuss stimulus check details is Los Angeles times reporter Jack Harris. Jack, welcome to midday edition. Thanks. Well, this stimulus money is part of this 2 trillion stimulus package that Congress passed recently beyond trying to help people make it through the economic shutdown. What's the immediate goal of these checks? Speaker 2: 00:36 Yeah. The hope is that it will help kickstart the economy a little bit in the short term by not just giving money to people who have lost their jobs, who had been on or been put on furlough in recent weeks, but also give it to people who still have their jobs, who will be more willing to take these checks and actually spend them to pump a little bit of money back into the economy at a time when consumer purchases are, are, are really needed. Speaker 1: 01:03 Yeah. And since, uh, our economy is 70% consumer spending, you can see how important that is now. Who's going to receive this money and how much money can people expect? Speaker 2: 01:12 Yeah, so generally anybody with the individual adjusted gross income of $75,000 or less annually, we'll get the full 12 or $1,200 check. If you're a couple that files your taxes together, that number as $150,000 or less, uh, individuals who make up to $99,000 or couples who make up to 198,000, $1,000 will get a reduced payment. There's a a scale it goes down a little bit for, for those people, but basically in their head of household filers have a higher threshold and there's some other details, but for the most part, you're an individual. Make $75,000 or less, you'll get the full 1200 Speaker 1: 01:53 and those that have a children under 17, they get an extra 500 per child. Is that right? Speaker 2: 01:58 Yeah. Right. So if you qualify for that first one, any, any kids you have or independent to have under 17, you'll also get the extra 500 per kid. Speaker 1: 02:06 And uh, I think, uh, we're seeing a lot of these folks are getting their checks, uh, even today and direct deposit, right? Speaker 2: 02:12 Yeah. That's a, that's been the, that's how most people will receive their checks. The IRS is using a bank account information that people use to file either 20, 18 or 2019 tax returns, whatever had been their most recent returns with this year's deadline pushed back to July. Um, and that should cover the majority of people who qualify for these payments. Uh, we'll, we'll get them direct deposit straight into their bank accounts. Speaker 1: 02:37 And if somebody banking info has changed since they initially gave it to the IRS. Speaker 2: 02:41 Right. So the IRS OPIR created a, an online portal and on an online website where people can go online, change their information if they need to, they can track their payments to see if they have gotten theirs. People will also get a notice in the mail within 15 days of when the money's put into their account. But yes, as of this week, if you're, who thinks that your banking information might be different, you can go on the IRS website, they have under their coronavirus section and find a, uh, uh, an area where you can go in and update your information if you need to. Speaker 1: 03:10 And there was a report today that portal spend kind of inundated and there's delay messages on it now. Speaker 2: 03:15 Right? Yeah. And you know, that was something that wasn't even opened by the time these checks started going out. That's been one of the things that, uh, people have been a little uneasy about just because it's been a little unclear when it was going to open, how easy it will be for people. Um, you know, something this scale, uh, whenever you have to try to go in and fix things manually might, you might run into issues. So, uh, yeah, that has been one of the areas where people, you know, have been a little unsure if they've had to do that about what exactly they've had to do that the IRS is hoping that this, this portal is, you know, as the days go on it'll run a little bit more smoothly. Uh, but yeah, it's been one of the obstacles that they've been facing so far with, with these people who do have different baking information than what the RS originally had found. Speaker 1: 03:57 Now what I've usually got your tax refund with a paper check in the mail and the IRS doesn't have that account on file digitally. Speaker 2: 04:04 Right. So if the IRS does not have any sort of bank account information for you, you can go in and add it using, you know, that you know, updating your information for them. If you don't do that, the IRS will start cutting paper checks to people. But that will be the, there's going to be a couple of different rounds of payments that go out the current, this first current round of payments are going out to tax filers who did have bank account information starting next week probably they'll start sending out checks to social security recipients who also gave the IRS their bank account information through social security forms. Then after that, probably starting in may is when the paper checks will go out. Now the IRS can only send out a certain amount of paper checks each week. The numbers about 5 million. Uh, so you know there, there will be a bit of a backlog that the IRS is afraid and sending out paper checks. They're going to start and reverse order of people's income. So the people who make the least amount of money will get their checks first, but it could lead to delays of weeks or months for some people who are waiting on paper checks and who might make a little bit more. Speaker 1: 05:07 Now the Washington post is reporting, Donald Trump's name's going to be on the checks. That's definitely not standard practice, right? Speaker 2: 05:14 No, it is not usually a, a dispersing officer at a payment center. Their names are the ones who are on, you know, your normal tax return checks or anything like that. And even some of the early checks that have gone out under this deal had, did not have his name on them. The ones going forward will, uh, it's led to some political discussion. Of course, the president said that, you know, this isn't a political issue. Chuck Schumer, whoever pointed out, you know, uh, this president must think that that uh, quote, you know, the, the crisis revolves around him and his desires, his needs, his emanate enemies. So, you know, it's one of these things where in a time like this, any sort of political move, uh, is going to be dissected. And obviously when you, something that is unprecedented and unusual and not standard operating practices, it's gonna raise some eyebrows. Speaker 1: 06:03 And what about the people who don't make enough money to file taxes? What should they do? Speaker 2: 06:07 Yeah, so I'm on the IRS website. There is another section, it's called a non filers application. So that is where somebody who, yeah, like you said, either doesn't meet the minimum income threshold to be required to file annual tax returns. They can go on there now and input their information and just you know, simple stuff like their bank account information, how much they make to make sure that a they get qualified for the payments and that be the IRS knows where to send them money. That is something that had been open as of last week before the payments started going out. Now you know this doesn't apply to most social security recipients who don't normally file tax returns. Like I said, the IRS has direct deposit information for almost 99% of of of those people and and are using, you know, the information they get just through the normal social security forms that people have to file. Speaker 1: 06:56 And this is a pretty big task, a big rollout for the IRS. And we talked about the site launch today being inundated. Have you heard of any other issues at this point in the process? Speaker 2: 07:06 You know, some of the things that people have criticized is it doesn't cover most college students. If you're a dependent, you're not eligible for payments. Now there's a, a crossover usually, you know, on a normal tax returns. Um, if you're 24 or younger and a college student, then you can be claimed as a dependent. But of course under this deal, that $500 extra payment you get for having children stops for any child at the age of 17. So there's a lot of kids and students between the ages of 18 and 24 who can't file for the $1,200 check themselves and who parents also won't be getting a $500 extra payment as well. Uh, and then, you know, there's just the, the uncertainty that comes with, uh, an unclear order of payments. You know, I've heard from, from some people who have wondered why their friends have gotten their checks and they haven't yet, why if they file separately of, of like their spouse, why their spouse has gotten their payment and they haven't yet. I think that's been one of the things that's caused the most unrest, and that's why the IRS is hoping this, this new website they've launched where people can go in and track their information will be helpful. But again, even that has, has not run as smoothly as a, as the IRS would have hoped so far. But on the whole, it'll probably take some time to know if there are bigger picture issues about this. Speaker 1: 08:24 I had been speaking with Los Angeles times reporter Jack Harris. Thanks very much for joining us. I appreciate it.

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The stimulus money is part of the $2 trillion stimulus package passed by Congress in response to the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the economy. The goal of the individual stimulus payments is to get the money quickly circulating in the battered economy.
KPBS Midday Edition Segments