Local tax expert answers stimulus check questions

MISHAWAKA, Ind. – As stimulus checks are being sent into millions of American’s bank accounts and mailboxes, questions arise as to who actually can receive the money? What happens if the money goes into the wrong account or to the wrong address? And where is this money coming from in the first place?

ABC57 spoke to Mark McNamee, a local Certified Public Accountant to get some of those questions answered.

Now stimulus checks are in many cases a saving grace for families around the country who are either losing hours at their jobs or losing their jobs completely and struggling to pay bills.

So many are eager to be getting some sort of help from the government, but the guidelines are a little confusing leaving those who are already on social security or disability benefits asking if they will be getting help as well.

“I wasn’t sure if I’d be getting one or not with being on disability and when they said something about we have to file taxes or fill out a tax return, it’s like how do you fill out a tax form on disability or any kind of social security. That was kind of puzzling to me because I’ve never had to do it and my father has never had to do it,” Heidi Leming, one resident said.

Leming is on social security disability and has seen stimulus checks going out to other people wondering when or if she will be next.

Especially since the money would go to help fix her leaking roof on her mobile home.

And she’s not alone. Many are asking the same thing: if those currently getting money through SSI or disability will also be able to get the stimulus checks.

McNamee says as long as a person who’s single with an adjusted gross income under $75,000 or married with an adjusted gross income of under $150,000 they qualify for a stimulus check.

“Most people who are just getting social security/disability do not even file a tax return but because they are getting social security/disability, they qualify for the stimulus as well,” McNamee said.

But what happens if the money goes to the wrong account?

As unemployment numbers rise across the united states, these stimulus checks are much-needed assistance for many American’s struggling to survive. So you can imagine how upsetting it can be when you’re stimulus money gets deposited into the wrong account.

“On the 15th when it said it was supposed to be deposited, it was said to be in an account ending in 5513 and we don’t have an account with that number,” Jessica McNeal, another resident said. “We have bills that need to be paid and stuff like that and it’s really stressful that this hasn’t come in to help us out.”

McNeal is a stay-at-home mom and even though her husband works full-time, his hours have been cut amid the pandemic.

It’s a story many Americans can relate to, as many are checking their bank accounts and mailboxes daily to see if they’ve received their stimulus money.

McNamee tells ABC57 that what happened to McNeal is happening to several others.

It can happen when there isn’t an up to date address or account number, especially if someone has not filed their taxes for a while.

“If the deposit goes to an account that is closed then it will bounce back to the treasury and the individual will get a paper check. If it goes into an active account, that’s where it will end up and the individual will have to access it through the account that is open,” he said.

If the stimulus check is supposed to come by mail and it has been sent to the wrong address, if the government has your current address then it will be forwarded there. If there is no updated address or account for the money to be deposited in, he says you’re going to have to file a tax return in order to get your check.

Another question we've heard over and over - is this free money? Is it really just a check with no strings attached, or is the money being taken out of something else? Where is this free money coming from?

“The stimulus is a credit on the 2020 tax return so next year, 2021, when we file our 2020 tax return the $1,200 stimulus, whatever you receive will show up as credit so it will not affect your refund or balance due,” McNamee said.

We haven’t seen what the 2020 tax return will look like but there will likely be a line item on the 1040 that says 2020 stimulus and then you will put in the dollar amount you received.

But he says that money is also a credit. And you actually have three different years where you can qualify for the stimulus check. The 2018 tax return if that is the last one filed, 2019, and if those returns disqualify you from getting the stimulus, you can still qualify based on your 2020 tax filings.

So people could even be getting their checks next year.

But since there is technically no such thing as free money, where is this money coming from?

“When the government prints $2.2 trillion and then more and more and these PPP loans are given out to small businesses, for the most part, are forgivable meaning they don’t have to be repaid so eventually somebody has to pay for those loans and that somebody likely is the U.S taxpayer. Which means in the future, tax rates will likely go up,” he said.

Click here for more information straight from the IRS.

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