The Moneyist: I did not file my taxes because I was afraid I could not afford to pay. Is it too late to file taxes for a $1,200 stimulus check now?

The Moneyist

Five people write to The Moneyist with the same question. They were late filing their taxes — and now fear they’ve missed their chance to receive an economic impact payment

The Moneyist answers dilemmas in an age of coronavirus.

The Moneyist has received hundreds of letters about stimulus checks over the last seven days. Many of these relate to people filing their 2018 or 2019 tax returns late. Here are five of those letters — and one answer:

Dear Moneyist #1,

I was reluctant to file my taxes for 2018 and 2019 for fear of owing what I could not afford to pay. Is it too late to qualify for the first stimulus payment? If so, what was the cut off date for filing your taxes?

Shantae

Dear Moneyist #2,

I didn’t file my 2018 taxes because I had to collect all my tax documents (which were misplaced when we moved). I did file my 2019 taxes in March, but my stimulus check is still showing as “processing.” Will I still get my stimulus check this year once the Internal Revenue Service has finished processing my 2019 taxes?

Jennifer

Dear Moneyist #3,

I receive Social Security. It is my only income, so I did not file tax returns. I get my monthly payment via direct deposit. I have had the same bank-account information for 15 years. Yet I have not received my CARES Act benefit.

Everyone I know has gotten their payment, including those on Social Security. I even know people who have received paper checks. I have never been able to access the IRS tool. It always says, “No information available.” There doesn’t seem to be any way to get help from either the IRS or SSA.

Where is my check?

Sandra

Dear Moneyist #4,

I didn’t file taxes for 2018 and I did it for the first time on April 6 for 2019. So far I haven’t received my stimulus check. Do you think this happened because I filed my taxes too late? I meet all the requirements from the IRS.

Kimberly

Dear Moneyist #5,

I filed my 2018 taxes two days ago, and I have yet to file my 2019 taxes. Is it too late to receive a stimulus check?

N.C.

Dear Late Filers,

First off, you need to make sure you qualify. The IRS is sending $1,200 to individuals with an annual adjusted gross income below $75,000 and $2,400 to married couples filing taxes jointly who earn under $150,000, plus $500 per qualifying child.

The stimulus check is an advance payment of a refundable credit on your 2020 return, so the IRS will take into account 2018 tax returns, if you have not filed your 2019 return yet. If you have not filed your 2018 return, it’s not too late to file now. You may, however, face a late-payment fee.

The agency has said it will continue to process stimulus checks throughout 2020 and, to help people, it has extended the deadline for people filing their 2019 income taxes from April 15 to July 15. More than 130 million stimulus checks have been cut thus far.

High Noon last Wednesday was the deadline for Americans to submit their direct-deposit information to the Internal Revenue Service, the IRS said. Checks mailed out after Wednesday’s deadline would arrive by late May at the earliest.

Dispatches from a pandemic:Letter from New York: ‘New Yorkers wear colorful homemade masks, while nurses wear garbage bags. When I hear an ambulance, I wonder if there’s a coronavirus patient inside. Are there more 911 calls, or do I notice every distant siren?’

Those collecting Social Security and who are not working do not have to file a tax return. The IRS will have those details on file. People who are receiving checks by direct deposit will more than likely receive their payments before those getting paper checks through the mail.

Obviously, this is another reminder to stay current with your taxes to avoid fees and any other legal issues that may occur further down the line. It’s unlikely the IRS will have the manpower to audit people who have not filed, but no one wants the IRS on their case.

People working at state tax offices are working hard to process these payments. New jobless claims have topped 36 million in recent weeks due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. They are working hard to ensure that people get their stimulus money.

The Democratic-run House of Representatives approved a $3 trillion coronavirus relief bill on Friday night; analysts are saying it’s likely that President Donald Trump will end up signing a new aid package into law next month or later following extensive negotiations.

The bottom line: If you do not receive your stimulus check this year, you will receive it next year. People can check the status of their stimulus payment here.

You can email The Moneyist with any financial and ethical questions related to coronavirus at qfottrell@marketwatch.com

Want to read more?Follow Quentin Fottrell on Twitterand read more of his columns here

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