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How to monitor your stimulus check and use it wisely, per experts

Finance experts give their recommendations on what to do with their federal stimulus check. The IRS explains why some may wait longer for payments.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Millions of Americans are getting a stimulus check from the government, but with the economic uncertainty caused by COVID-19, experts urge people to be cautious with the money they’re getting.

Many Americans woke up with an extra $1,200 in their bank account. You may have the urge to spend it, but experts say put that money aside.

“I got noticed I’d be receiving 2,400 in my account,” Jacksonville woman Brenda Spargo said.

Brenda Spargo filed taxes jointly with her husband, who passed away in October. She was nervous that she received the money she wasn’t entitled to and reached out to her tax preparer.

“She assured me I was entitled to that money,” Spargo said.

She says the money went straight from her checking to her savings account.

Florida State College of Jacksonville business professor Justin Bateh says that’s the best practice if you’re still working.

Bateh says avoid paying off consumer debt.

“Your best bet is to hold onto it as opposed to putting it towards debt," Bateh said. "You can do that later if you still have the money, but if you’re in a position where you can’t make payments, you can have them deferred."

“Right now, lenders are allowing you to defer payments if you’re unemployed due to COVID-19,” Bateh advised.

If you’re out of a job, Bateh points towards buying necessities.

“Food, shelter, clothing, household operations,” Bateh said.

Bateh also says you will not have to pay the stimulus check back to the government.

“It’s not going to impact your taxes the following year, it’s basically an advanced tax credit for the 2020 return, and so it’ll be listed on your return as such however you will not have to pay it back and it will not impact your tax bracket,” Bateh said.

The IRS sent a statement to First Coast News saying as of mid-day Wednesday, more than 6.2 million taxpayers have successfully received their payment status and almost 1.1 million taxpayers have successfully provided banking information.

They say in situations where a person gets a “status not available message,” they may receive it for the following reasons:

  • If you are not eligible for payment (see IRS.gov on who is eligible and who is not eligible)
  • If you are required to file a tax return and have not filed in the tax year 2018 or 2019.
  • If you recently filed your return or provided information through Non-Filers: Enter Your Payment Info on IRS.gov. Your payment status will be updated when processing is completed.
  • If you are an SSA or RRB Form 1099 recipient, SSI or VA benefit recipient – the IRS is working with your agency to issue your payment; your information is not available in this app yet.

Bateh also says this check won’t impact your taxes for the following year.

Spargo wants to save her stimulus check for a rainy day.

“I’m on a fixed income and I need to know I have some money in waiting,” Spargo said.

A link to the IRS stimulus check monitoring website can be found here.

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