Personal Finance

TurboTax offers free tool to help Americans who don't file taxes get stimulus payments

Key Points
  • Millions of Americans are slated to get $1,200 payments from the federal government to help them cope with the sudden economic downturn. 
  • Eligibility for those payments is largely based on prior tax returns, which leaves out individuals who typically do not file because they have little to no taxable income.
  • Now TurboTax has coordinated with the IRS to launch a free tool so those individuals can submit their information in order to get their stimulus money.
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Online tax preparation service TurboTax has launched a free stimulus registration website so that Americans who do not typically file tax returns can get their relief checks faster.

Millions of Americans are slated to get one-time government checks of up to $1,200 or $2,400, based on whether they are single or married, and are under certain income thresholds, $75,000 or $150,000. Qualifying dependents – children under 17 – are eligible for $500 payments.

For most individuals, whether they qualify will be based on their adjusted gross income on tax returns for 2019. If they have not submitted those returns yet, their 2018 information will be used.

However, as many as 10 million Americans do not file tax returns, often because they have little to no taxable income.

That leaves many at risk of either not receiving a stimulus payment on time or not receiving the money as quickly as other people.

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TurboTax, which is owned by Intuit Inc., partnered with the IRS to create a stimulus registration product to make it easy for those people to fill out a simple tax return.

It includes questions to help determine whether or not you need to complete a tax return and assess eligibility for the relief funds. You can also choose whether you want to receive your stimulus funds by direct deposit to your bank account or via a mailed check.

Once you have completed the form, a notification is sent to you to confirm that the IRS received your information.

The product is free of charge.

According to a Congressional timeline, direct deposit checks will start being distributed in mid-April. Paper checks, however, will take much longer to get to people, as they won't start sending those until May. At that point, about 5 million checks per week will be sent out. But some individuals may have to wait as long as five months to get their money.

Consequently, the IRS recommends selecting direct deposit so that you get your money faster.

Individuals who typically fill out returns can still update their information by submitting their 2019 filings. Though the U.S. government has delayed the federal tax filing deadline to July 15, submitting a return now can help ensure that your income and bank account information is up to date.

"With the majority of taxpayers getting a tax refund, they should definitely file their 2019 tax returns," said Lisa Greene-Lewis, CPA and tax expert at TurboTax.

Last year, about 72% of taxpayers received a refund of close to $3,000, Greene-Lewis said. This year, the IRS has said that it will issue nine out of 10 tax refunds within 21 days or less if you e-file with direct deposit, she said.

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Lawmakers have been pushing for some individuals who don't file tax returns, particularly those who receive government benefits, to skip filing in order to receive their stimulus money.

Earlier this week, it was announced that Social Security beneficiaries will not have to file tax returns. Instead, the government will use their 1099 forms.

That still  leaves out individuals who receive Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, or veterans benefits. On Friday, a group of 45 Senate Democrats sent a letter to the Treasury Department, IRS and Social Security Administration, urging the requirements to be changed so that recipients of those benefits would not have to file returns.