Coronavirus relief checks: Will you get one? (Analysis)
The $2.2 trillion-dollar coronavirus rescue package coming from Washington includes direct cash relief to taxpayers. How much money you will receive depends on income.
President Donald Trump announced Wednesday that “$300 billion dollars in direct cash payments will be available for every American citizen earning less than $99,000 dollars a year.”
Tax experts at the American Enterprise Institute estimate 83% of tax filers will receive a check, or about 125 million Americans. In a high-income/high cost state like New Jersey, however, a disproportionately high number of families and individuals may see little or no relief compared to other states.
Note: Even if you don't qualify for a direct cash payment, there are other forms of relief in the stimulus bill that may offer you some help
- Income is determined by the latest tax return you filed. If you have not yet filed for 2019, 2018 return data will be used.
- The income cut off for single tax filers is $75,000 a year, with reduced benefits up to $99,000
- The income cut off for married couples (filing jointly) is $150,000, with reduced benefits up to $198,000
- The income cut off for a taxpayer filing as “head of household” is $112,500, with reduced benefits up to $136,500 dollars
- The same income limits apply for the $500 per child payment
- If you receive Social Security benefits, you are eligible for a payment, provided your income does not exceed the above guidelines
The Washington Post created a stimulus calculator. Access it here.
How many in New Jersey will qualify?
As many as 80% of New Jersey households should receive some form of payment, compared to 83% nationally.
U.S. Census data shows New Jersey median income at $80,000 per year compared to a national average of $60,000. Average household income in New Jersey is $97,000 compared to $74,000 nationally. But New Jersey also has among the highest cost of living in the U.S. Simply put, a dollar here does not go as far as it does in most other states.
The most recent data shows roughly 11% of New Jersey families reported income of $200,000 or more. They would not be eligible for a stimulus check or child credit.
Approximately 20% of New Jersey households reported income of $149,000 or more. At least some of those households would be eligible for a full or partial payment (up to $198,000).
However, many of the households that will not qualify, or qualify for reduced benefits, are not part of the “richest class.” For example, a household where each partner is a teacher can easily earn $153,000 per year. Depending on how they filed their taxes and reported income, many small business owners may also not be eligible for an individual direct payment.
Few will qualify in these towns
New Jersey does have its’ fair share of wealth. We have, in fact, the most millionaires per capita than any other state. Almost 9% of New Jersey households report income in excess of $1 million. In total (before the stock market crash) there were nearly 294,000 millionaire households in New Jersey.
If you live in Millburn, Mendham, Mountain Lakes, Rumson, Essex Fells, Ho-Ho-Kus, Chester or Harding, your chances of getting a stimulus check is small. Those are the towns with the highest average income in New Jersey.
What else do I need to know?
You don’t have to apply to receive a payment. The government will check your tax return, calculate your benefit, and if you have banking account information on file with the IRS, deposit it right into your account. If you don’t have that information on file, they will send you a paper check in a few weeks.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin expressed hope the first payments will arrive the week of April 6, but they could be delayed until later in the month.
The stimulus payments are NOT taxable. However, you may have to pay some or more of the money back if your 2020 income exceeds the income limits to qualify. (Consult with your tax adviser.) It is not yet known if the payments will be considered taxable income on your state return. New Jersey considers tax refunds taxable income in some circumstances.
— Includes information from The Associated Press
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