Millions of Americans are waiting for their incentive checks. 34-year-old James Blake Wiener, who lives in Zurich, is one of them.
He is not alone. Many U.S. foreigners who live in other countries still have not received their payments.
Wiener said the attempt to track his stimulus test was a comedy of mistakes.
Firstly, he was unable to use the IRS Get My Payment application because his Swiss postal code is four digits, not five standard US postal code numbers.
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Then, when he was able to reach the IRS by telephone, he found out that the name of the street was incorrect in their notes.
Wiener says he has now received a letter from President Donald Trump confirming that his stimulus check has been sent, but he still has not received the money.
Wiener said he expects his cash in early July. Because it still works with the site Encyclopedia of Ancient Historywhich he co-founded, he said that he was not desperate for help.
However, Wiener said it would help to have money during the lock-up, to pay for groceries and cover his health care costs, including a visit to the doctor.
“A little more financial cushion would be nice,” he said.
According to the latest estimates by the Department of State, about 9 million Americans live in other countries. However, it is unclear how many of these individuals are entitled to check incentives that are based on specific income thresholds and other requirements.
“Most of them wait more than four weeks to get paid if they get paid,” said Natalie Goldstein, CEO of MyExpatTaxes, about who is eligible.
Who is eligible for payments
U.S. expats are already facing difficult financial circumstances because they must continue to pay U.S. taxes, even if they live elsewhere.
So many literate expats learned that they were also eligible for payments that were authorized by Congress under the CARES Act.
However, there are certain requirements that must be met in order to qualify. Individuals must be able to fill out Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR and have a valid Social Security number. They also cannot claim to be someone else’s addiction.
This is in addition to reaching income thresholds: up to $ 75,000 for individuals and $ 150,000 for couples who apply together. Incentive payments for those with incomes above these levels are gradually reduced and completely stopped for people with incomes over 99,000 dollars and couples who earn more than 198,000 dollars.
According to David McKeegan, co-founder of Greenback Expat Tax Services, some expats who earn more than these sums can still qualify for incentive payments. This is due to the exclusion of federal income, which excludes money earned and taxed in a foreign country from US taxable income.
Meanwhile, Americans who file documents with their non-citizen spouses and have individual tax identification numbers instead of social security numbers will not receive payments.
Payments also depend on how Americans overseas comply with federal income tax requirements. Payments are based on tax returns of 2018 or 2019, depending on what was last submitted.
According to McKeegan, some expats successfully entered their information into the IRS tool without a file system in order to receive their checks.
Who else is waiting for money
Getting incentive payments is difficult even for those Americans abroad who pay taxes.
To better understand why some, including Wiener, turned to a blog and a comment board on a website organized by an American expat in Cartagena, Colombia.
Adam McConnockhey, 32, editor and author of the site Cartagena ResearcherFirst created the site as a guide to history and the city.
Adam McConnay, pictured with his wife, wrote that American emigrants do not receive incentive checks on their Cartagena Explorer website.
But when information appeared about incentive checks, he decided to write about it in order to educate himself and other emigrants. Since then, the post has attracted readers from all over the world, he said.
McConnaugh, who teaches history, is still working, but also awaiting incentive testing. Extra income would help, since his wife, a preschool teacher, no longer works because of Covid-19.
“Supposedly it was mailed,” McConnaugh said. “But I don’t think there is a postal service to Colombia from the USA right now.”
Thanks to the answers to his site, some patterns of the one who is still waiting appeared. These, in particular, include residents of Europe or South America, whose mail may still be interrupted by a pandemic.
McKeegan said it was “a little hit,” although he heard from people from all over the world who received their checks.
Juliana Valencia / EyeEm
According to Goldstein, one of the obstacles that may be causing delays is the fact that many expats do not receive tax refunds and, therefore, do not have information about their direct deposit in a bank account with the IRS. She also said that only expats with US bank accounts or US addresses would be the first in line for their payments, she said.
Chip Wiegand, 60, who lives in Barranquilla, Colombia, is awaiting payment after Covid-19 stops teaching English as a second language for local businessmen.
“I did not hold my breath for this, although it would be great to get it,” Wiegnand said. “I live almost nothing.
“These past few months have been very difficult as Colombia continues to extend mandatory national quarantine.”
However, the country’s response to coronavirus was more effective than US efforts, he said.
“I’m glad I’m here.”