How to Spot Fake U.S. Stimulus Money Scams

The stimulus check is a one-time amount of $600 that is available to every qualified American. Although there are talks of a $2,000 stimulus check to be issued in 2021, it is still unconfirmed. The $600 stimulus check, however, has been confirmed and they will be sent to individuals who qualify and individuals who have submitted necessary information to the IRS. 

To know if you qualify for the stimulus check you can read this article. If you are qualified you can learn more about it on the official IRS website. The official IRS site is the only site linked here is the only site you should be registering any information. There are a lot of stimulus money scams going around and you must be able to avoid them. These scams will often ask for very sensitive information such as your bank account number, your social security number, and more personal information. Here are 9 ways to spot fake stimulus money scams.

  1. Unconfirmed Sources – If the information is not coming from the official IRS site linked above. The IRS has also published an article detailing how to spot these scams. You can find this article here. The IRS will never change their website or have a “secret” or “special” website for certain people. That is one of the ways by which people get scammed.
  1. Promises Quick Results – The IRS will never promise quick results or results within a day. There is an official procedure and it takes time. These scams will often promise faster results than the ones you’ll see on the official IRS website. They are scams and should not be trusted.
  1. Available to People Who Do Not Qualify – We have linked an article above that discusses who qualifies and who doesn’t qualify for the stimulus check. You must read it. If you do not qualify, any emails or text messages claiming there is a special way or a last-minute exception just for you is most likely false. Once again, all important information will always be on the IRS Website.
  1. Asks For Sensitive Information On Unconfirmed Sites – The IRS will never ask you to fill in the information on a third party website. You might need to exercise patience because the application process may be slow due to the sheer number of people trying to apply however, there should be no “alternative” website.
  1. No Text Messages – The IRS will not send you text messages asking you for any information or confirmation.
  1. Official Term – The IRS doesn’t call it the “stimulus check” but rather an “economic impact payment.” Despite this, the IRS will not send you a text. It doesn’t matter which term is adopted.
  1. No Emails – If the IRS needs to reach you they will send a physical letter delivered by the US Postal service. They do not send emails.
  1. The Stimulus Check Is Free And There Are No Refunds – The Stimulus check is free and you are not to refund the US government. It currently sits at $600 for those who earn less than $75,000 for an individual and $150,000 for a couple. There are some exceptions and you can find a detailed explanation here
  1. The Irs Doesn’t Require Tax Returns From Retirees – If you are retired the IRS will not ask for tax forms or information.
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What to Do if You Haven’t Received Your Stimulus Check Yet

The stimulus check refers to a certain amount of money approved by the presidential administration. There have been more stimulus checks due to the effect of the covid-19 pandemic on the economy as well as the people. These checks are necessary because unemployment rates are currently high. Stimulus checks include benefits and funds for Americans who may be struggling.

If you have not received your stimulus check yet here is what you should do. Before outlining the steps you should take, we need to discuss some of the reasons that may lead to you not receiving your stimulus check.

  1. Improper Application – To get the stimulus check you have to enter your information into the IRS Website. This is the only site that will require your information. Be wary of scams or fraudulent activities surrounding the stimulus check. If the information is not coming from the IRS then it is most likely not trustworthy.
  1. Taxes – A new ruling that permits those who haven’t filed their tax in 2018, 2019, and 2020 to still be eligible for the stimulus check however, the application of this ruling differs in states.
  1. Under 16 and 18 – If you are under 16 your parents or guardian should receive your stimulus check because you are under their care. This will only occur if they include your details in the information given to the IRS. For individuals under the age of 18, if your parents do not legally state that you are a “dependent” your family will not receive your stimulus check.
  1. Wage Limits – Not all wage earners will qualify to receive the full stimulus check and this is solely based on your tax returns. Individuals who earn less than $75,000 or $150,000 as a couple are eligible for the stimulus check. After this, for every $100 in income above the threshold will result in $5 being deducted from the stimulus check. If an individual earns $87,000 and above or a couple earns $174,000 they will not qualify for the stimulus check because they are high wage earners.

For heads of households (this has to be stated on tax returns), there will be no stimulus check if the gross income after adjustments is above $124,500.

  1. Recent Address Change – If an individual chooses to receive the check by mail and change addresses, it could take up to 5 months to arrive. This is why your information on the IRS Website should always be up to date.
  1. No Bank Account – Most stimulus checks are deposited directly into the bank account registered on the IRS Website. If you do not have one then you can get the check sent by mail which will take a few months to arrive. If you opt to receive it by cash through the app Cash App and a prepaid debit card.
  1. Immigrants without a Social Security Number – Immigrants without a social security number do not qualify to receive the stimulus check. Those with H-1B or H-2A visas and Green Cards are eligible.

If none of these apply to you and you still haven’t received your stimulus check, follow these steps.

  1. Track your payment status on the IRS Website through the Get My Payment.
  1. Ensure all the information registered is correct. You may have registered an incorrect bank account.
  1. Reach out to your bank to ascertain whether they are still processing your stimulus check.
  1. If you are getting a message stating “Payment Not Available” then you will have to state this in your tax returns (by the 15th of April 2021) to get your “Recovery Rebate Credit.” 

For more information on how to claim the rebate on your tax returns click here.

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What President Trump’s Payroll Tax Holiday Means to Your 2020 Tax Refund

On the 8th of August 2020, President Trump signed an executive memorandum that directed the Treasury Secretary to commence a payroll tax holiday. The title being used in headlines is quite misleading because it is not a holiday but rather a deferral. The actual title of the memorandum makes this clear. The memorandum is titled “Memorandum on Deferring Payroll Tax Obligations in Light of the Ongoing COVID-19 Disaster.”  Just like the stimulus check, the payroll tax deferral is a way to ease the economic effects of the global pandemic on the workers. Even though unemployment has dropped to 8.4%, it is nowhere near the 3.5% of February. With that being said let’s get into the details of the payroll tax holiday.

The payroll tax deferral only applies to Americans making less than $104,000 a year, and it deferred four months of taxes (September-December 2020) to January-April 2021. This is just as stressful as it sounds. The tax holiday simply means you’re going to have to pay double the amount from January to April 2021. This means the social security tax percentage will go from 6.2% to 12.4%. The payroll tax holiday is essentially a zero-interest loan (without accounting for inflation).

This memorandum has drawn a lot of criticism because although the President signed it, there are no laws or guidelines that stop employers from continuing to deduct tax from the employees. Employers argue that they would still have to pay said amount even if the employee quits before January 2021. It is also important to note that for most low-wage workers, the tax holiday holds less appeal in the face of the looming payment dates in 2021. Many people would prefer the payroll taxes continue to be removed regularly as opposed to having double the amount removed in the first four months of 2021.

Even though the memorandum directed the Treasury Secretary to explore ways to forgive the taxes of the tax deferral, there have been no bills or legislation to support or discuss this. The memorandum still clearly states that deferred taxes must be paid:

“An Affected Taxpayer must withhold and pay the total Applicable Taxes that the Affected Taxpayer deferred under this notice ratably from wages and compensation paid between January 1, 2021, and April 30, 2021, or interest, penalties, and additions to tax will begin to accrue on May 1, 2021, with respect to any unpaid Applicable Taxes.”

Now you may be wondering what the payroll tax holiday means for your 2020 tax refund. Well, we’re not too sure what’s going to happen. The IRS usually starts accepting tax refund forms by February, and the deferred payroll tax will be paid from January to April.

There is a chance your tax refunds may be lower if you file early. The details aren’t clear yet because the IRS has not released a statement addressing this. We can only assume that tax refunds will be affected by the payroll tax holiday. Perhaps the deferred tax payroll payments will result in a higher 2022 tax refund.

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