When faced with a global pandemic, you can count on us Americans to do one thing really well: We hold out our hands for a piece of sweet, sweet government cake, while our elected officials in Washington fight over who gets the most credit for feeding it to us.
Several weeks ago, when the first reports appeared about the Coronavirus Tax Relief plan, I mentally calculated that Kathryn and I would be expecting at least a taste of the government handout. An Economic Impact Payment is what it's officially called. So I was a little surprised we had still not seen the payment in our checking account as of this week.
I'm a master procrastinator when it comes to filing tax returns, and since the deadline for 2019 tax returns has been pushed back to July 15, I won't even be thinking about ours for a least another six weeks. I just assumed the IRS would be using the bank information from our 2018 tax return to send us our share of the government cheese. Although Kathryn and I seldom have refunds coming to us on April 15, we typically have the amount we owe debited directly from our checking account. So I thought we were all set.
However, I had forgotten the 2018 tax year was a special case. It was the first tax year after the major tax reform act of late 2017. And like many Americans, Kathryn and I shifted around some funds in the last few days of 2017 in order to reduce our tax liability under both the old and new tax laws. Since I was then too lazy to recalculate our estimated tax payments under the new law, we were over-withheld in 2018 and due a substantial refund on April 15.
I knew the effects of our eleventh-hour tactics were likely to be temporary, and I expected our tax liability in 2019 would be somewhat “normal” again. So instead of having the IRS send us a refund for 2018 taxes at about the same time we'd be sending them the first payment of our 2019 estimated taxes, we simply applied the 2018 refund to 2019.
As a result, there was no bank information at all on our 2018 tax return. The IRS didn't send us any money on April 15, and we didn't send them any either.
Apparently, the IRS offers a tool to update your bank information if you're in a situation like ours, and you only have a few days left to use it. However, at this point, I think I'm just going to wait for the paper check.