Are first responders eligible for a stimulus check?

Breaking down the tax benefits, and eligibility cutoffs for stimulus payments outlined by The CARES Act


Neither this article nor any information provided herein should be considered to contain legal advice or opinions. You should contact your legal counsel to obtain legal advice.

By Sue Jackson and Erin Robles

In response to the economic challenges generated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law by President Donald Trump on Mar. 27, 2020.

To determine if you are eligible for a stimulus check, you need to look at your gross adjusted annual income from either your 2018 tax return or, if you have already filed it, your 2019 tax return. (Photo/MCT, Marie Morelli)
To determine if you are eligible for a stimulus check, you need to look at your gross adjusted annual income from either your 2018 tax return or, if you have already filed it, your 2019 tax return. (Photo/MCT, Marie Morelli)

The CARES Act’s purpose is to provide emergency assistance to individuals, families and businesses that have been negatively impacted by COVID-19.

The CARES Act provides for a $2 trillion economic stimulus package with a number of different measures, one of which is aimed at providing financial assistance by issuing a one-time stimulus payment (i.e., recovery rebates) to eligible taxpayers. Like most American workers, public safety employees are eligible for this benefit as long as your annual income does not exceed the cut-off amounts set by the CARES Act.

Am I eligible for a stimulus check?

To determine if you are eligible for a stimulus check, you need to look at your gross adjusted annual income from either your 2018 tax return or, if you have already filed it, your 2019 tax return. Generally, The CARES Act provides for one-time payments as follows:

  •  If you are single and file your tax return as an individual, your payment amount will be $1,200 if you make $75,000 or less
  • If you are married and file jointly with your spouse, the payment amount will be $2,400 if you and your spouse make $150,000 or less
  • If you are filing as a head of household, the payment amount is $1,200 if you earned $112,000 or less

If you make more than the amounts designated above, your payment amount will be reduced by $5 for every additional $100 of adjusted gross income up to the following amounts:

  • $99,000 for a single person
  • $198,000 for a married couple filing jointly, with no children
  • $112,500 for a person filing as a head of household

An additional $500 will be added to the payment amount for each child age 16 or under. In order to qualify to receive a payment, you must have a social security number, cannot be claimed as a dependent on another person’s tax return, and cannot be a non-resident alien. Payments will be automatically direct deposited into your bank account if that information is on-record with the IRS. If not, you will receive a check in the mail. Direct deposits are expected to start being issued this week, while checks may take as long as 3-6 weeks to arrive. The stimulus payments are not considered income and therefore will not be taxed.

In addition to the stimulus payments, The CARES Act also provides support for taxpayers by making retirement funds more easily available for emergency spending needs; by delaying mandatory distributions; by broadening authorized uses of health savings accounts; and by offering relief on eligible student loans. Additional information related to the applicability of these relief measures is best sought directly from lenders and account managers.

Additional Resources on The CARES Act

For additional guidance and current information on stimulus payments and The CARES Act, visit the following resources:

About the authors

Sue Jackson is an attorney with Lexipol. She has 25 years of legal experience representing public entities including public safety entities in civil matters relating to negligence, civil rights, and employment law.

Erin Robles is an attorney with Lexipol. She has more than 20 years of legal experience representing local governments with a focus on public safety and labor and employment law.

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