CARES Act information (english only)
The US has a financial aid package of $1,200, – for every US citizen, also for the ones living abroad. The package is called the CARES act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security). Everyone who is eligible gets the payment the IRS has stated. This applies to all US citizens who have been filing but also non-filers.
We have been hard at work lobbying with government and banking organisations to ensure payments can be received. We have also collected all information, tips on CARES. Note that this page will be regularly updated.Read our FAQ f you’re eligible and how best to collect your payment. Click on a question or scroll down:
- Am I Eligible for the $1.200, – CARES cheque?
- Do I need to file my 2019 US tax return to get the payment?
- If I do the streamlined procedure do I get $1.200?
- Do my partner or children qualify?
- How can I receive my payment by bank?
- How can I exchange a paper cheque?
- How to apply to the IRS ‘Get my payment’ website?
- Webinar about CARES
- About us
Am I eligible for the $1.200
You are eligible for the $1.200, – CARES act whether you have filed a tax return or not. Below you will find the different scenarios. You qualify for the CARES act when you are either:
You earn less than $99.000, – G.I.A (gross adjusted income) and filed at least your 2018 return and your 2019 return. Please check your 1040 to see what your income was. If your income is more than $ 75.000, – the CARES act cheque becomes less and is reduced to zero when you earn more than $99.000. We posted some example calculations in this article.
B) Non filer:
You also are eligible for the $1.200,- dollar cheque if you didn’t need to file in the past years because you didn’t have (enough) income to meet the threshold 2019. You would then qualify as a Non filer.
For example: when your income is less than $12,200 (this also applies to children with a SSN), You’re married filing jointly and together your income is less than $24,400 or you have no income. You’re NOT considered a non-filer when you do make an income according to the IRS criteria but have decided not to file.
C) I never filed and have income?
Please check the article about Streamlined
Do I need to file my US return 2019?
Many people who did file 2019 got a confirmation for the $1200, – just one week after E-filing. The IRS says that everyone who has filed 2018 should automatically get the payment but many haven’t. We therefore recommend filing but FIRST opening a US bank account, then E-file 2019 with that information included and after that check the get my payment website from the IRS. So the order is:
- Open a US bank account first BEFORE filing. See below instructions
- Inform your tax preparer to add the US bank account on your 2019 return
- Your US tax return 2019 will now have a US bank account on it that’s registered with the IRS
- Wait one week and check the Get my Payment website
- The cares cheque will/might be directly deposited into that account instead of sending a paper cheque which are very hard to exchange in some European countries
- If you have already filed it’s very hard to change or add account information for that year.
If I do the streamlined procedure do I get $1.200?
The Streamlined procedure is for people who just discovered they were US persons, have a filing obligation and want to file without penalties. You’re eligible for the CARES cheque in case you did have an income up to $99.000 but never filed.
In this procedure you will be asked to file 3 years back and receive no penalties. Usually there is also no tax owed. Since the $1.200, – is paid to people who have filed since 2018 you should be eligible.
The IRS has said they will distribute cheques until the end of the year. We can’t give you a guarantee as the procedure is being updated on a weekly basis. We don’t know if it’s available next year, so we recommend getting started. Please contact us for step by step help with this procedure by an affordable expert.
If you want file yourself, please check the IRS website. It is not recommended as the forms are complicated and mistakes can lead to serious complication. If you want to find an expert who can help you file in an affordable manner then please contact us without any obligation.
Do my partner and children qualify?
They only qualify if they have a Social Security Number. Please read our article on how to obtain one. If they do you can claim $500, – for children and $1.200, – for a partner.
If you’re filing jointly and your partner is NOT a US citizen, then you will receive no funds at all. We don’t know why this applies but it does. Do also note if you file jointly your partner is obliged to also file a US Tax return which is a serious obligation.
How can I receive my payment by bank?
We recommend getting a free US bank account. Normally the IRS sends cheques which arrive late and are increasingly difficult to deposit in Europe as many banks have stopped accepting them. We have been writing to the local bank authorities to ask for support in this matter to ensure cheques can be exchanged. However the easiest and quickest way to receive the $1200,- from the IRS Cares Act is to open a free US bank account online.
The easiest and cheapest way we found in our research is via Transferwise. You can open a free account and then need to deposit € 20, – to activate your US bank account. (You can get the € 20,- back). You will then be able to view your US bank account number.
We have made an agreement with Transferwise that you will get a discount when you convert your first $220 to Euro’s if you register via below link. Full disclosure: In some events we will receive a small commission from Transferwise. Please direct all questions about the service to Transferwise directly if you have them.Visit Transferwise
How to exchange a paper cheque?
First check if your local bank will accept cheques. In the Netherlands ING is one of the few banks that has a procedure to accept cheques. If you already have a paper cheque and are having trouble exchanging it at your local bank then you have two options. You might, in some cases, be able to cancel the cheque with the sender and request a direct deposit. In which case you can still use the option to get a US bank account option.
The second option is to open a free account with the SDFCU (State Department Federal Credit Union). Although the name sounds like it is government related it is not we have been told. It is a little harder to open your bank account there because you always need a Social Security Number and in some cases even the original SSN certificate which shows your SSN number. They’re very strict and have said they will not deviate from any of their requirements.Visit SDFCU
The account they offer is free of charge. Only after one month when opening the account you can use their ‘remote deposit’ service to cash a cheque. This service can be found via their website once you’re logged into your account. The mobile app also has several functions but is meant for residents in the United States. Please direct all questions about the service to the SDFC directly if you have them.
Using the IRS Get my payment website?
The IRS claims that all payments will be made automatically if you’re eligible. We’re not sure this will be the case especially for Americans living overseas. In order to check if you will receive the payment the IRS has launched the ‘Get my payment website’.
The website allows you to check if a cheque has been or will be dispersed and enter bank details. We recommend getting a free US bank account in order to avoid getting a paper cheque. You can enter your US bank details on the get my payment website.
The ‘Get my payment’ website is not working well. Almost everyone gets the message ‘Payment status not available’. Other messages indicate the system has not (yet) recognized you. Please do let us know if you were able to get through so we can help others. Once we receive more confirmation it is working properly, we will send out a newsletter.
Once you have determined you are eligible make sure you have all your information at hand: your US bank account details, SSN, Date of Birth and address. Without a valid SSN it is not possible to apply.
*. If you didn’t have income before 2019 but have income in 2019, we don’t recommend using the non-filer option. It is not clear how this impacts your return.
We would like to stress that the website still gives almost all Americans living overseas the message ‘payment status not available’ or not recognized. You can give it a try as its updated on a weekly basis.
We kindly ask you to direct any questions regarding above information directly to Transferwise or the IRS. As soon as there is new information on the CARES act and IRS website, we will also update you.
Webinar about CARES – 28th of May at 13:00 – 14:00
We’re hosting a webinar on the CARES act where we will go through all the information and frequently asked questions. During this webinar you will be able to also ask questions. If you want to attend, then please register below and we will email your invitation.
27th of May at 11:00 – 12:00 Full
28th of May at 13:00 – 14:00
While we have done our utmost best to collect all information currently available and research the best options for receiving funds this should not be considered as financial advice. We urge readers to do their own due diligence and can’t accept any liability arising out of actions taken due to this article.
Please feel free to email us or call if you have any other questions regarding your US tax filing requirements free of charge and without any obligations. Thank you.
About Americans Overseas
We, the founders of Americans Overseas, were born in the Netherlands and obtained our American nationality through our (American) mother.
When we heard about the US tax system for the first time around 2013, we were in total disbelief (it can’t be true!), anger (how can they do this?), fear (am I going to get fines or pick up other problems?), and panic (what should I do?). It is (unfortunately) true that there is an additional American tax levy. But there’s no information from local government, and when approached, the consulate referred us to the IRS, and the IRS was impenetrable.
That’s why we started this initiative to help people from all over the world by providing proper information about the US tax system to avoid unnecessary panic, and offering help free of obligation and free of charge. If needed, we have a network of affordable professionals (accountants) who can help you with your tax obligations.
Americans Overseas can advise you which renunciation program is best for you and inform you about the renounce US citizenship tax implications. If you have questions you can contact us at Americans Overseas.Contact us for more information