As TCTA has reported previously, retirees will be eligible for the relief checks recently approved by Congress, as long as they meet the income criteria. In general, relief checks are $1,200, or if married filing jointly, $2,400 per couple. The amount of the check is phased out for single filers with an adjusted gross income between $75,000 and $99,000, joint filers with an AGI between $150,000 and $198,000, and heads of household with an AGI between $112,500 and $146,000. Those who qualify will also receive an additional $500 for each qualifying dependent age 16 or younger.

However, TRS has brought to our attention a situation that may affect low-income retirees who did not file a 2018 tax return or have not filed a 2019 return. While these individuals should still be eligible for a check, the new law requires retirees to file a tax return to receive their payment.

There is an exception to the tax return requirement for railroad retirees or those who receive a Social Security benefit, under which the IRS can use the non-filer’s 1099 form instead of requiring a tax return. However, many TRS retirees do not receive Social Security benefits, so this exception would not apply to them.

The US Treasury Secretary may be asked to adopt a special rule that would allow the IRS to use the 1099 information to send rebates automatically to non-filing, non-Social Security retirees. TCTA will update retirees if and when any action is taken on this issue. If the rule is not adopted, non-filing retirees would still be eligible for the relief check but would have to file a tax return in order to receive it.

Note: This situation only applies to retirees whose income is low enough that they did not file a tax return. If you filed a tax return and are otherwise eligible, you should receive your federal relief check automatically. The chart below provides 2019 income benchmarks for filing a return.

2019 Filing Requirements Chart for Most Taxpayers

IF your filing status is... AND at the end of 2019 were... THEN file a return if your gross income was at least...
single

under 65

65 or older

$12,200

$13,850

head of household

under 65

65 or older

$18,350

$20,000

married, filing jointly

under 65 (both spouses)

65 or older (one spouse)

65 or older (both spouses)

$24,400

$25,700

$27,000

 

married, filing separately any age $5
qualifying widow(er)

under 65

65 or older

$24,400

$25,700