Special COVID-19 IRS Payment

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On March 27, 2020, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. This provides some economic relief for individuals and businesses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are some highlights of the CARES Act.

2020 Recovery rebates for individuals (section 2201):

  • Tax credits are provided for individuals in the amount of $1,200 for single returns and $2,400 for joint returns
    • plus $500 for each child (under age 17 and qualifying for the child credit);
  • Credits are reduced by 5% of the excess of adjusted gross income (AGI) over these thresholds:
    • $75,000 for a single return;
    • $150,000 for a joint return; and
    • $112,500 for a head of household return:
      • Thus, the credits would be fully phased out for income higher than the following amounts:
  • $99,000 for a single person with no qualifying child;
  • $198,000 for a couple filing a joint return with no qualifying children;
  • $218,000 for a couple filing a joint return with two qualifying children;
  • $146,500 for a single parent with one qualifying child:
    • (in all cases, the level of income before the phaseout is complete increases by $10,000 per child).
      • For limitation purposes, AGI is based on the 2019 tax return, if filed. If not, then AGI on the 2018 return would be the limit.
  • There is no income floor or phase-in – all whose income does not exceed the thresholds will receive the same amount. Non-tax filers generally need not file a tax return to claim a rebate.
  • The credits are not available to anyone who can be claimed as a dependent on another’s return.
  • If a tax return has not yet been filed for 2019, the 2018 tax return will be the point of reference. If no tax return was filed for either year, rebates can still be sent based on information on Social Security benefit statements.
  • The rebates are fully available to residents of U.S. Territories, including Puerto Rico.
  • The IRS will send out the payments electronically if any tax refund was sent in such a manner for the 2018 or 2019 tax return – also there will be a notice by mail to the last known address that the payment has been made electronically. If not, a paper check will be sent.
  • Also, the act calls for a public awareness campaign to inform people about the rebates.
  • No credit allowed if correct ID numbers (Social Security numbers) were not on tax returns, except in cases of spouses of active military personnel.
  • IRS and Social Security Administration are appropriated extra funds to carry out the rebates.

Special Rules for Withdrawals from Retirement Funds (section 2202):

  • The 10% extra tax on early withdrawals from IRAs and qualified retirement plans shall not apply to distributions of up to $100,000 related to coronavirus:
    • These are distributions made in 2020 to an individual diagnosed with COVID-19 or whose spouse or dependent is diagnosed or who experiences adverse financial consequences as a result of being quarantined, furloughed, or laid off due to such virus or is unable to work due to lack of child care or closing or reduced hours of his or her own business.
  • Such amounts can be repaid to the retirement plan over a 3-year period;
  • If not repaid, the regular tax on the distribution can be paid over a three-year period;
  • Certain coronavirus-related loans up to $100,000 from defined contribution plans are not treated as distributions and the repayment of such loans is extended.