According to AARP writer John Waggoner, there are a number of misconceptions flying around about the $1,200 stimulus payments called for under the CARES Act. Here’s a closer look at a dozen of these erroneous claims surrounding what the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) refers to as economic impact payments.

  1. Donald Trump signed the stimulus checks. Balderdash! Millions of paper stimulus checks issued by mail do bear the president’s name but not his signature. If you receive a stimulus check with Donald Trump’s signature, it’s a fake.
  2. You had to file a tax return to get a stimulus payment. Absolutely not true! While stimulus-payment eligibility for many was based on 2018 or 2019 tax returns, the IRS went to great lengths to ensure that those not required to file tax returns also got their checks.
  3. The IRS will garnish your payment for back taxes. The IRS says it will not take any part of your stimulus payment for back taxes. If you owe back child support, however, your state will report you to the Treasury Offset Program (TOP), which can take your entire stimulus check, up to the amount you owe.
  4. You owe income tax on your stimulus payment. Nope – not true at all! To quote the IRS corona-virus economic impact information center: “No, the payment is not income and taxpayers will not owe tax on it.”
  5. College students aren’t eligible for stimulus payments. As long as you’re 17 or older and aren’t claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return, you’re eligible for a stimulus check. Whether or not you’re in school doesn’t matter. What they do have to worry about is being claimed as a dependent by their parents. That negates their eligibility to receive a stimulus check.
  6. It’s too late to get a stimulus check. The IRS has already pushed out 140 million stimulus payments, either by paper check, direct deposit or prepaid debit card. Nevertheless, some people who were entitled to a stimulus payment haven’t gotten one, possibly because their income was too low for them to file taxes. The IRS will continue to make payments in 2020. To get your payment, use the Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here tool. If you don’t receive a payment this year, or your payment is in the wrong amount, you can claim the missing money when you file a tax return for 2020 next year.
  7. Millionaires are qualified for stimulus payments. Maybe – but this one is tricky. Anyone with an annual income of $1 million certainly did not get a stimulus payment. Far from it. There is, however, no criteria surrounding net assets.
  8. You need a bank account to get a stimulus payment. Not true. Stimulus payments are being distributed by paper check and prepaid debit card, in addition to direct deposit into a bank account.
  9. Your stimulus check will reduce your 2020 tax refund. Your stimulus check is not an advance tax refund, and will not affect tax refunds based on your 2019 and 2020 tax returns. Additionally, you will not have to repay the stimulus money.
  10. All dependents receive a $500 stimulus payment. That’s not true. Only dependent children under age 17 are eligible for a $500 stimulus payment. That payment is made payable to the person who claims them as a dependent. Anyone 17 or older listed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return won’t qualify for the $500 payment. That goes, as well, for an aged parent declared on their child’s tax return.
  11. You can’t get a stimulus payment if you don’t live in one of the 50 states or Washington, D.C. Absolutely False. U.S. citizens living abroad are eligible for stimulus payments.
  12. Relatives can keep stimulus payments sent to dead people. While some payments have gone out to the deceased, heirs can’t keep the money. The IRS announced that stimulus checks sent to the dead must be returned to the government.

If you need assistance with understanding any aspects of stimulus check payments, contact the nearest Seniors Vs. Crime office in The Villages for advice or assistance. There is never a charge for their services. Seniors Vs. Crime can be reached at:

  • The Fruitland Park Police Department Annex in the Moyer Recreation Center in The Villages, (352) 674-1882.
  • The Marion County Sheriff’s Office in The Villages, (352) 753-7775
  • The Sumter County Sheriff’s Office in The Villages, (352) 689-4600, Extension 4606.
  • The Wildwood Police Department Annex at Brownwood in The Villages, (352) 753-0727.