Coronavirus Stimulus Checks and the Effect on Divorce
By Jayde Logan, McKinley Irvin family law attorney
On March 30, 2020 the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service announced the distribution of stimulus package payments to account for the coronavirus pandemic.
Payments are intended for taxpayers only, therefore, most qualifying recipients must have a social security number. There may be a minimal exception for members of the military.
Qualifying single adults who have an adjusted gross income of $75,000 or less will receive $1,200. Married couples with no children earning $150,000 or less will receive a total payment of $2,400. Taxpayers filing as head of household will receive full payment if they earned $112,500 or less.
If your income is higher than the thresholds listed, then your payment will be reduced $5 for each $100 over the threshold until it stops altogether for single people earning $99,000 or more, or married couples without children who earn $198,000 or more.
You will not receive payment if someone claims you as a dependent, even if you’re an adult.
What if I was married for the applicable tax filing, but I am separated from my spouse now?
Funds will be direct deposited based on the bank information from your 2019 tax filing. If you have not filed for 2019, then your 2018 filing will apply.
If you filed “jointly” with your spouse for the 2018 tax year, but have separated from your spouse since filing, then it is best to file your 2019 taxes as soon as possible. You will need to notify the IRS of your updated status of “separated” or “single”.
It is not likely that the IRS will have updated information for couples who have separated since their 2019 tax filing. Couples who filed jointly for the 2019 tax year but separated after filing, may need to coordinate division of the stimulus funds. If you cannot coordinate with your spouse, then seek a court order to divide the funds appropriately. The IRS will be sending a paper notice in the mail detailing information about where your payment ended up and in what form it was made.
How are the payments for children allocated to co-parents?
For each qualifying child age 16 or under, there will be an additional payment of $500. The stimulus payments are based upon the 2019 tax filing. This means that if you claimed your child on your taxes in 2019, then you are likely to receive the $500 benefit for each child that you claimed as a dependent. If you have not filed taxes for 2019, then you should refer to your 2018 tax return.
Will I receive payment if I am behind on my child support payments?
No. The Coronavirus Stimulus Bill has not waived offsets for past due child support. This means that if you owe back child support, then you may receive a decreased stimulus check or no check at all. If your payment is intercepted by the department of treasury, then the funds will be given to the child’s custodial parent.
To check on the status of your stimulus check, visit the IRS website. If you believe that your spouse has inappropriately withheld your portion of the stimulus funds, then you will need to seek a court order and request an appropriate division of the funds.
Contact McKinley Irvin if you would like to schedule a phone or video consultation with a family law attorney in Seattle, Bellevue, Everett, Issaquah, Puyallup, Tacoma, and Vancouver, Washington or Portland, Oregon.