On Tax Day, many Americans woke up to a $1,200 stimulus check from the government to ease the financial strain of coronavirus.
“One of the misconceptions about the stimulus check is that there are strings attached—that you’re gonna have to pay it back or they’re gonna watch how you spend it,” said MoneyWise co-owner Dave Anderson. “None of that’s the case.”
If you’re a taxpayer making less than $75,000 a year, you should get $1,200 in your bank account.
If you’re a couple making less than $150,000 a year, you should see $2,400, along with $500 for each of your kids under 17.
“If you’re single and make up to $99,000, you’ll still get part of that check. And if you’re a married couple, you can make up to $198,000 and still get part of that check,” Anderson explained.
If you didn’t receive any money yet, it might be because you haven’t filed your taxes yet for 2018 or 2019. Do that as soon as possible to get a stimulus check.
“Those people that are not banking, they’re gonna have to receive a paper check—but it’s gonna take a few weeks, maybe even a couple months,” said Anderson.
Payments are also going out in reverse income order, so people with the lowest incomes are getting checks first. People with higher incomes should look out later this month.
“This $1,200 is not going to hold you over for very long, so you have to be very, very thoughtful,” Anderson said.
In Kern County, how far can this money go?
According to the U.S. Census, $1,200 will be enough to cover the local median rent of $956.
If you’re a couple getting $2,400, that could cover the median mortgage of $1,490.
“Before you just rush to make that rent payment, make sure that you have to this month. Reach out to your landlord, they might give you a break,” Anderson said. “Potentially you can delay your mortgage. Call your credit card company, see if they can delay that, so you can stretch out this money as long as possible.”
Anderson recommends focusing on immediate necessities.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a household spends an average of $372 a month on food at home. $1,200 will get you about three months of food.
“It’s a one-time thing right now, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a second round of stimulus checks in a few weeks,” Anderson said.
If you don’t usually file taxes because your income is too low or for another reason, you can still request a stimulus check with this form here.
The IRS also has a new tool called Get My Payment to track your check if you are still waiting for it.