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V.I. Answer Desk: If You Don’t File Taxes, How Do You Get a Stimulus Check?

A reader called after reading a recent Source article on Gov. Albert Bryan Jr.’s COVID-19 update in which he gave information on stimulus checks for Virgin Islanders.

The caller is an older person, on Social Security, and does not file income tax returns. She has a son on disability who also does not file income tax. She wonders what she must do to receive $1,200 from the CARES Act.

At the end of March, the U.S. Congress passed a $2.2 trillion stimulus bill providing American citizens $560 billion to defray expenses during the coronavirus pandemic. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act ­– known as the CARES Act – also set aside $500 billion for big corporations, $377 billion to small business and $153.5 billion for public health, according to the National Public Radio breakdown.

Based on 2018 or 2019 tax filings, individuals making up to $75,000 annually are to receive $1,200 each, including those living on Social Security. Married couples filing jointly, with adjusted gross income up to $150,000 will receive $2,400. Families will receive $500 per child as well. The $1,200 tax rebate phases out at $75,000 (or $150,000 for couples) and tax payers making over $99,000 ($198,000 joint filers) receive nothing. People on Social Security are also to receive the payment. Using information from the Social Security Administration, retirees living on the mainland will receive their refund by direct deposit.

Territories will also receive funding for individual taxpayers but not by direct deposit. $70 million has been designated for the Virgin Islands and will be released in paper checks.

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Locally, receipt of CARES funds has been slow and Gov. Bryan announced funding came through just last week. Checks are being printed by the V.I. Bureau of Internal Revenue this week. Up to $10 million will be released every week until the deadline for disbursement is met in December, Bryan said.

Bryan has been clear that those who filed tax forms for 2018 or 2019 will get checks and those who receive Social Security should file a 2018 1040 form claiming $1 income to be included in the BIR’s database.

Specifically answering the reader’s question, Gerry Yandel from the governor’s office said both mother and son should file a tax form 1040 for 2018. They should complete the personal information (name, social security number, dependents, etc.), write down $1 for income and sign the form. At the top of the form, write FOR STIMULUS CHECK and deliver the return to the tax office on St. Thomas or St. Croix. This will allow them to be added into the Bureau of Revenue system.

Gov. Bryan said at his news conference Monday there will be enough funding to get a check to everyone.

“If you haven’t had time to fill out the 2018 form, you still have time. It’s not going to run out,” he said.

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