By Chand Bellur
April 15, 2020 at 2:10 p.m. PT
- As part of the COVID-19 response, the Federal government pledged to give $1200 to individuals and $500 per child.
- Those who have received IRS tax refunds via direct deposit will have the stimulus wired electronically. All others will receive the payment by mail or Social Security distributions.
- The IRS developed an online tool enabling the public to check stimulus payment status.
COVID-19 Freezes Global Economy
Like many people, you may be reading this article from home. It’s also likely that you haven’t left home often in the past month. Worldwide stay-at-home orders have billions sheltering in place to avoid contracting COVID-19.
Unlike most European nations, who have paid corporations to keep employees on the payroll, the United States allowed much of the population to become unemployed. The initial promise for individual payments, put forth by Steve Mnuchin, pledged $5000 checks for all Americans, to be distributed in a week. The actual stimulus fell far short of this promise.
The reality is, for many Americans, income is a challenge these days. As the unemployment rate skyrockets, many Americans spend their days on the phone with bureaucrats, trying to get their money. Despite good intentions, the stimulus payments are just getting out the door, long after people have been suffering.
Americans will receive stimulus payments starting today. Unfortunately, not every American will collect a stimulus check. Those making over $75,000, heads of households earning over $112,000, and married couples with combined incomes of $150,000 will receive less. For every $100 earned over the set limit, the stimulus payment shrinks by $5.
Given the elaborate rules of the stimulus payments, many may wonder if they’re even getting a check. Fortunately, the IRS has created a web app to determine COVID-19 stimulus payment eligibility. As with most government technology initiatives, the site is slow, often unresponsive and doesn’t offer much information.
How to Check COVID-19 Stimulus Payment Eligibility
When and whether you get money depends on a variety of factors. High earners won’t get much, if any, stimulus money. If you don’t file taxes, you probably won’t get anything unless you’re on Social Security. Some who have filed 2018 taxes, may need to file for 2019 to get a check. Even though the IRS and state governments have pushed tax deadlines forward, some may need to file 2019 taxes to receive the payment.
Since the rules are involved, it’s best to use the IRS website to check payment status. Follow the online instructions to find out if money is coming your way. You may have to wait for access, as the system is overwhelmed. It’s best to check once a day, so as not to bog down the system.
Keep in mind, since payment distribution is currently underway, you may see the “Payment Status Not Available” message. As mentioned, some individuals may need to file 2019 taxes to get their stimulus money. If the point was to put money in the hands of American consumers rapidly, the U.S. government failed spectacularly.
Missing the Point of the Stimulus
The entire point of the stimulus was to spur the economy. With so many out of work, a generous incentive is necessary to continue consumer spending. $1200 is not even close to what people need to survive. Due to the lack of concern for most Americans, about one-third of the nation didn’t make rent in April. The ramifications of this catastrophe have yet to unfold.
Public policy is not America’s forte. We’re more about collecting tax revenues, handing them out to corporate America, and letting it trickle down to the public. This mentality has led to a grossly unbalanced distribution of wealth. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it may destroy the U.S. economy, paving the way for a massive societal change.
Steve Mnuchin’s first impulse, a $5000 check sent out immediately to every American, was the correct action to take. Weeks went by, and the wealthy elites in government felt it was far too generous. Elites who can’t survive on $30,000 a month felt that $5000 checks were too liberal for Americans.
Bolstering unemployment may help some Americans make ends meet. Perhaps some may even come close to the $5000 promise; however, those payments are weeks, if not months, away. Many report difficulties signing up for unemployment.
American elites can’t see past the next quarter. Unfortunately, this severe mistake may cost them their elite status. The labor participation rate has barely budged since the 2008 financial crisis. COVID-19 created far more unemployment than anyone expected.
People are desperate, resorting to food pantries to survive. Rent payments forgone, they’re focusing on essentials, and not spending enough to stimulate the economy. This may generate a downward spiral of more unemployment and poverty.
Victimizing some segments of society won’t result in upheaval. Impoverished, rural, and uneducated people believe that immigrants caused their misfortune, due to misdirection from so-called leaders. When the ranks of the impoverished grow to include intelligent, socially active individuals, fundamental societal change is likely.
It’s ironic, but elite dilettantes in the U.S. government may have sewn the seeds of their demise. Their disregard for average Americans amid this pandemic will create masses of poor, disenfranchised people. A paltry $1200 check with a reality TV star’s signature won’t satisfy most people. The silver lining is that all of this greed may finally bring us to a more fair and equitable society; however, not without a struggle. It’s also possible that the Tiger King will be our future president. Never underestimate American stupidity, but hopefully, people will wise up.