stimulus check

The Trump Administration's solution to aid the 16 million Americans who are out of a job thanks to coronavirus? One big, shiny, $1,200 check.

As MarketWatch explains, "The Internal Revenue Service will send $1,200 payments to individuals with adjusted gross income below $75,000 and $2,400 to married couples filing taxes jointly who earn under $150,000. The government will also pay $500 per qualifying child." That plan is a little skewed—$1,200, after all, isn't even enough for one month's rent for a studio in NYC's outer boroughs. And for everyone who's receiving the check, there's someone else who, fortunately, is able to work from home and hasn't faced a huge setback due to COVID-19.

If you're one of the lucky ones, or if you're just feeling generous, here are just a few good causes that deserve your donations to help those in need.

WeCount!'s Immigrant Worker COVID-19 Fund: Florida nonprofit WeCount! is on a mission to address the gap in medical support for undocumented immigrants, emphasized by COVID-19.

Immigrant Worker Safety Net Fund: National Day Laborer Organizing Network allocates cash donations to worker leaders, organizers, and volunteers who have already contracted the COVID-19, as well as undocumented laborers who are especially vulnerable to the virus, such as those over 60 or with preexisting health concerns.

National Bailout: Prisons, jails, and detention centers have raised big health concerns in the coronavirus's wake. National Bailout is galvanizing funds to get people out, in an effort to slow the spread. The organization also already hosts an annual #FreeBlackMamas campaign to specifically help incarcerated black mothers each Mother's Day, but donations are welcome and encouraged year-round.

Restaurant Workers' Community Foundation: With restaurants limited to takeout only, many folks in the service industry are taking a major hit. RWCF's emergency relief fund collected $2.8M since its launch in late-March. Of that, half goes directly to individual restaurant workers, 25 percent to non-profits serving restaurant workers, and another 25 percent for zero-interest loans to keep restaurants running.

Coalition for the Homeless: Homeless people are predisposed to major risks year-round, but the pandemic has brought additional attention to their health care. In New York City, the Coalition for the Homeless is providing temporary safe housing to the community thanks to donations.

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Today is April 15th, the date usually thought of as "Tax Day."

In a normal year this would mark the deadline for filing your 2019 tax returns, but 2020 is anything but a normal year. As a result of the coronavirus pandemic and resulting quarantine, the deadline for filing taxes has been extended to July 15th.

The hope is that by mid-summer most ordinary business will be allowed to resume so that individuals and companies will be able to prepare their paperwork, and tax preparation services will be back to their usual operation—or will have made necessary adjustments to do their work safely. With record unemployment and the sudden spike in medical expenses, the delay should also make things easier for people who are struggling to manage their rapidly shifting finances.

It remains to be seen if all these hopes will pan out, but in the meantime there are a number of other factors that deserve to be addressed. In particular, the relationship between stimulus checks currently being rolled out and taxes has become particularly fraught and confusing. Sources have variously claimed that the checks—maxing out at $1,200 per adult, with an additional $500 for dependents—will be counted toward recipients' 2020 taxable income, or that they function as advances on a future tax return, and will thus eat into or eliminate the amount people can expect to receive from the IRS later this year.

Fortunately, both of these assertions are false. However much you receive in your check—or deposited directly into your account—it will not affect your income for tax purposes, nor will it have any impact on the amount you receive in your refund. That said, that extra money may not be as miraculous as many people are hoping. While the first payments are arriving in people's accounts as we speak, others will see those badly-needed funds delayed for up to five months, and many will not receive as much as they should rightly expect.

People whose are set up to receive direct deposits from the IRS or the Social Security Administration will get their payments quickly, but for those of us waiting on a check in the mail, the first round won't arrive until sometime in May. The issue is that the IRS has a physical limit on the number of checks they can print and ship out—with the added delay of Donald Trump's all-important signature—and with so many people scheduled to receive stimulus money, that capacity becomes a serious drag on the process.

The other major issue is with the way the amounts are calculated. Individuals with incomes over $75,000 will receive smaller amounts, while the threshold is set at $112,500 for the head of a household and $150,000 for joint filers. Every $100 of income over the threshold will reduce your check by $5—so an individual with an income of $80,000 should receive $950 ($250 less than someone who earned $75,000), and an individual with an income of $99,000 won't receive any stimulus money at all.

The real problem arises from the fact that the income used for these calculations is based on the most recent tax return you filed. So people who earned a lot more in 2019 than they did in 2018 would benefit if they haven't filed yet (although any refund they're entitled to will obviously be delayed), while people whose income dropped in 2019 will receive more stimulus money if they chose to file early. On top of that mess, some may see their checks go straight to debt collectors.

It will take months before we have real a sense of how much the stimulus money and the delay of tax season have actually helped people, but the least we can do in the meantime is try to reduce the noise and confusion around these issues.

The IRS has officially started rolling out coronavirus stimulus checks to millions of Americans.

Between 50 and 70 million people are due to receive the stimulus checks, which are part of the government's $2.2 trillion economic recovery package and intended to stimulate the stalled economy during the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent shut downs of most aspects of civil life. Residents who've filed taxes in the past two years and submitted their direct deposit information began receiving the deposits on Friday of last week and are expected to receive them by Wednesday, April 15. Anyone who qualifies but has not submitted their direct deposit banking information is expected to receive a paper check at a later date. However, anyone who has not filed or made their banking information available may input their information in the IRS' new portal here.

Qualifying citizens are those who have reported an adjusted gross income of $75,000 or less. Filers of joint tax returns will receive a one-time payment of $2,400 and those will dependents will receive an additional $500 for each qualifying child. All others will receive the standard one-time payment of $1,200.

Meanwhile, Canada is providing its citizens who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic with up to four months of $2,000 CAD monthly payments. Australian citizens who have been furloughed from their jobs receive $1,500 AUD every two weeks. Newsweek reports that "Britain's government is issuing grants covering 80 percent of unemployed workers' salaries up to a total of £2,500 ($3,084) a month. The package also reportedly contains statutory sick pay for employees that have been told to self-isolate...Denmark has pledged to pay from 75 to 90 percent of employees' salaries up to a monthly amount of 26,000 Danish kroner ($3,288 USD)...France will pay 70 percent of an employee's gross salary to a monthly maximum of €6,927 ($7,575 USD)...Germany will pay 67 percent of net wages up to a maximum of €6,700 per month ($7,326.78 USD)....Ireland will give 70 percent of employee salaries up to a maximum of €410 per week ($448.36 USD)."

But sit tight and keep refreshing your bank account for that life-changing, crisis-averting one-time payment of $1,200...unless you're a U.S. college student who's still claimed as a dependent or a retiree who receives Social Security. Forget you guys.