What you need to know about the federal stimulus checks

Published: Apr. 14, 2020 at 7:12 PM CDT
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The millions of Americans who qualify for the federal stimulus checks should start receiving them soon.

The money is part of the historic $2.2 trillion bill Congress passed last month.

Kayln Bjorgum of Moorhead said he plans to use it to catch up on bills.

“It's going to help a lot of people, but like I said, it's not a fix all,” Bjorgum said. “This thing could last for a longtime and $1,200 doesn't exactly go very far.”

Samantha Bergh of Audubon, Minnesota said she’s using the check to do work around her house and help a local business.

“We are using our stimulus check towards getting our yard planted for some grass, getting it seeded from a local landscaping company,” Bergh said.

The massive bill was intended to jolt the U.S. economy as the coronavirus pandemic forced millions to become unemployed.

If you’re single and earn under $75,000, you’ll get the full $1,200. The amount starts declining the more you make with the cut off for the payment at $99,000.

For a couple, it’s under $150,000 and you get $500 for each child.

“From what we understand, it's not taxable income. It's based on your either 2019 tax return, if it's been filed, or 2018 tax return,” Devon Liljenquist, CPA, of Arrows Advisors said.

Liljenquist said you should spend the money on essential items.

“It's a 2020 tax credit, but if in 2020 your income is too high where you wouldn't have received it, you're not going to have to pay it back,” Liljenquist said.

North Dakota State University economics professor Dr. Robert Hearne said it’s hard for the money to boost the American economy when most places remain closed.

“I don't think we're going to spend more money because we get a check. I think we are constrained,” Hearne said.

Hearne said a better approach could’ve been helping only unemployed Americans.

According to the Internal Revenue Service, most people should get their money in the next two weeks.

The agency plans to soon launch on its website a tool where you can monitor when your check is due to arrive.