LISTEN: Economic Impact Payments are beginning to hit bank accounts. Here’s what you need to know.

The streets of downtown Anchorage were uncharacteristically empty on Thursday, March 19, 2020 as the city “hunkered down” to curb the spread of the coronavirus. (Abbey Collins/Alaska Public Media)

Last week, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan, which includes another round of federal relief money for Americans affected by the pandemic. 

Many have already received Economic Impact Payments. David Tucker is a Seattle-based media representative for the IRS, and he answered a few questions about the relief program. 

Abbey Collins: There are a lot of things in the 2021 American Rescue Plan. I want to focus mainly on the economic impact payments today, which some Americans may have already received, right?

David Tucker: That’s correct. Some of those in particular, with which the IRS has their direct deposit information, may see a deposit already made.

AC: But if you haven’t gotten one yet, and you think you’re eligible, now is not the time to panic, right?

DT: Yeah, people can go to our website, and there’s a tool called “Get My Payment,” and they can actually check the status of the Economic Impact Payment.

AC: This is the third round of federal relief payments during the pandemic. Can you tell me what’s different this time around?

DT: Well, there’s a couple things that are different. The amount is different — it’s $1,400 for individuals. And for married couples, it is $2,800.

Now there are some eligibility changes that are also different from the previous economic impact payments, but the third thing that’s also different is that people who are eligible will also get $1,400 for each qualifying dependent … And so unlike the previous economic impact payments … the families that claim to have a dependent on their tax return can also be getting that additional $1,400. It’s not just for those who previously were just qualifying children under the age of 17.

So, that’s a significant change. For those who maybe have an elderly parent that’s a dependent, or a college age student who’s also a dependent.

AC: What about folks who don’t typically file federal tax returns? What do they need to know right now?

DT: Well, it depends on what category they fall into.

And what I mean by that is — say they’re Social Security beneficiaries, and they get a normal social security check, and it’s in whatever method that’s coming to them, whether that’s a direct deposit or a check They don’t have to do anything, because they’ll be receiving it as they did the previous Economic Impact Payments. So receiving it via that method — that also applies to railroad retirees, and also those who are receiving veterans benefits from the VA.

They don’t have to do anything to get the Economic Impact Payments, they’ll be paid through whatever process of getting those beneficiaries from those agencies.

AC: And what about people that fall outside of those categories?

DT: They previously used the non-filer’s tool to get the previous Economic Impact Payments. They’ll be getting it the same way they did the first Economic Impact Payments.

But if they did not use that non-filer’s tool that closed in November, I believe, then what they need to do is to file a 2020 tax return and claim the Recovery Rebate Credit. So we recommend people do that. 

Now, also say in conjunction with that, that those who earn under $72,000 are able to use what’s called Free File on our website. It’s IRS.gov.

What that free file system is, it’s an alliance with private tax software companies who offer their tax software for free, for those who meet that income eligibility of $72,000 or less.

So, we would encourage people to go to our website, use free file. That way they can file their tax return electronically, which is what we always encourage.

And if they do have a bank account, then they can also provide that bank account information and that will come back to them as a direct deposit.