The Moneyist: My daughter claimed me as a dependent in 2019. Is it too late to receive a stimulus check? If not, when will my check arrive? Will it be garnished to pay my debts?

The Moneyist

‘I have a very low income, and yet I did not receive a $1,200 stimulus check. My daughter recently moved out of town, but claimed me as a dependent on her 2019 tax form’

The Moneyist answers dilemmas in an age of coronavirus.

Dear Moneyist,

‘I have a very low income, and yet I did not receive a $1,200 stimulus check. My daughter recently moved out of town, but claimed me as a dependent on her 2019 tax form. I am 61 years of age. She won’t be claiming me as a dependent on her 2020 filing.

Will I be able to receive my stimulus check under the CARES Act and, if so, will my check still be offset? Is that cheating the Internal Revenue Service? I also have debts. Will they be garnished? If I can qualify this year, when will I get my check?

Frustrated

Dear Frustrated,

The stimulus check is an advance payment of a refundable credit on your 2020 return.

If your daughter does not claim you as a dependent in 2020 and you have no other children who are claiming you as a dependent, neither you or your daughter will be cheating the Internal Revenue Service. You should receive your $1,200 stimulus check if you file a 2019 return but, assuming it’s too late for your daughter to update her 2019 tax return, you won’t receive it until 2021. You will have to file a return. The checks are based on your 2020 tax returns, but the IRS uses 2018 returns for those who have not filed in 2019 and will use 2019 returns for those who have filed this year.

That may not help you in 2020 and millions of people who are in dire need of a check, especially those who are worried about paying electricity and grocery bills, and rent due to the coronavirus pandemic. Some 49% of people are living paycheck to paycheck, according to this survey, which was taken before 30 million people filed for unemployed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The IRS is sending $1,200 to individuals with 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.

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?’

It’s unlikely that your check will be garnished due to any debts that you have now and carry through to next year. There’s growing concern among many Americans that debt collectors will garnish or swipe their checks. “Creditors may view stimulus payments as an opportunity to seize money for amounts owed on outstanding court judgments. Millions of Americans have court judgments against them,” said Lauren Saunders, an associate director at the National Consumer Law Center in Washington, D.C. where she directs the organization’s federal legislative and regulatory work.

However, members of ACA International, the association of credit and collection professionals, said that members continue to work “diligently” to assist consumers in managing unexpected financial challenges. “ACA members are acting with compassion and in compliance with a myriad of consumer protection laws and regulations,” said ACA International CEO Mark Neeb. “Only banks and credit unions would know the source and character of deposited funds,” it said, adding that debt collectors would not know the character or source of funds contained in a consumer’s bank account.

I hope your daughter can help you out and, in the meantime, please stay safe and healthy.

P.S. 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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