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Stimulus checks help Natchezians in many ways

NATCHEZ — For the past month, Jessica Bradley has been out of work due to the COVID-19 pandemic after shelter-in-place orders closed Regina’s Kitchen where Bradley worked as a waitress.

With the pandemic affecting people in the U.S., the federal government has sent out $1,200 stimulus checks to individual or head of household filers and $2,400 for married couples filing jointly, if they are not dependent of another taxpayer.

Many people have already received their checks, issued to help stimulate the economy by providing people with spending money, while others are still awaiting them.

Bradley said she received her stimulus check last week and put the check to a good use.

“The stimulus check has helped me with something I have been trying to do for the past two months, which was to get my own place,” Bradley said. “I have been looking for one for a few months. Since this came along and plus I’m getting unemployment, I was able to find a rental place in my budget.”

According to the IRS, those who are eligible to receive stimulus checks are U.S. residents, retirees and recipients of Social Security, Railroad Retirement, disability or veterans’ benefits as well taxpayers who do not make enough money to normally have to file a tax return.

Those who are not eligible for stimulus checks are people who have a gross income greater than $99,000 (for filing status for those who are single), $136,500 (head of household), claimed someone as a dependent on someone else’s return, people who do not have a valid Social Security number and who are not residents of the United States.

Racheal Berry, who worked in customer service at All Star Recovery, a car repossession company in Natchez, has been unemployed since March 23.

Berry also worked every other weekend at Andrew’s Tavern as a bartender.

Berry said she received the $1,200 stimulus check on April 14, and it was directly deposited into her bank account.

“I’m thankful for the stimulus check,” Berry said. “It has helped tremendously without having to put bills on hold up to this point. I have mainly used the money on groceries and bills.”

Businesses

Chandler Russ, executive director of Natchez Inc., said the stimulus checks bring hope to those who are unemployed.

“It’s good timing from the standpoint that there have been many people throughout the community, who have been out of work because of the pandemic,” Russ said. “It will help those out of work in the way of rent, mortgage payment, utilities, food and all of those supplemental necessary living expenses that are vital for them to operate.”

With 47 sites and restaurants closed in Natchez, Russ said it is imperative for those who have received the checks to use the money locally.

“In order to get our businesses restarted, we have to start generating cash flow,” Russ said. “By buying something online from a retailer that’s out of our area, then it doesn’t help our economy. People who spend their stimulus checks in Natchez help replenish lost revenues of businesses that provide goods and services to our economy. It also provides cash flow to local government.”

Andrew’s Tavern is one of the few businesses in Natchez that is still open for food and drinks. At Andrew’s Tavern, the remaining employees are serving to-go orders of crawfish, shrimp, crab legs and drinks.

Sammy Atkins, owner of Andrew’s Tavern, said he laid off all of his employees due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including Berry.

“I’m really down to a three-man show with my son helping with curbside service and my manager,” Atkins said.

Andrew’s Tavern is open for curbside service from 5-9 p.m. on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Atkins said he received his stimulus check on April 15 and has used the money on the rent and utilities for Andrew’s Tavern.

Chris Gibson, bar owner of CR’s in Natchez, was one of the bars closed due to the pandemic.

Gibson said he has not received his stimulus check yet.

“If I get one, then I’ll probably put it in my savings account,” Gibson said. “I don’t need the money. I also might divide it up between my employees at the bar since it’s shut down.”

Working people

For Natchezians that are still working during the pandemic, the stimulus check will help for some in other ways.

John Garza Sr. works at Turbo Ice Co., an ice supplier in Natchez, for the management department.

With the check in hand, Garza said he’s going to spend the money on bills and future home improvements.

“I think the stimulus checks are helpful for the people who are not working and also helpful to the people who are still working,” Garza said. “I just wish everyone would use the stimulus check wisely.”

Questions and answers from the IRS regarding the coronavirus stimulus checks

1. Who is eligible?

Answer:  U.S. residents will receive the Economic Impact Payment of $1,200 for individual or head of household filers, and $2,400 for married filing jointly if they are not a dependent of another taxpayer and have a work eligible Social Security number with adjusted gross income up to:

$75,000 for individuals

$112,500 for head of household filers and

$150,000 for married couples filing joint returns

Taxpayers will receive a reduced payment if their AGI is between:

$75,000 and $99,000 if their filing status was single or married filing separately

112,500 and $136,500 for head of household

$150,000 and $198,000 if their filing status was married filing jointly

The amount of the reduced payment will be based upon the taxpayers specific adjusted gross income.

Eligible retirees and recipients of Social Security, Railroad Retirement, disability or veterans’ benefits as well as taxpayers who do not make enough money to normally have to file a tax return will receive a payment. This also includes those who have no income, as well as those whose income comes entirely from certain benefit programs, such as Supplemental Security Income benefits.

Retirees who receive either Social Security retirement or Railroad Retirement benefits will also receive payments automatically.

2. Who is not eligible?

Answer: Although some filers, such as high-income filers, will not qualify for an Economic Impact Payment, most will.

Taxpayers likely won’t qualify for an Economic Impact Payment if any of the following apply:

Your adjusted gross income is greater than

$99,000 if your filing status was single or married filing separately

$136,500 for head of household

$198,000 if your filing status was married filing jointly

You can be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s return. For example, this would include a child, student or older dependent who can be claimed on a parent’s return.

You do not have a valid Social Security number.

You are a nonresident alien.

You filed Form 1040-NR or Form 1040NR-EZ, Form 1040-PR or Form 1040-SS for 2019.

3. How much is it worth?

Answer:  Eligible individuals with adjusted gross income up to $75,000 for single filers, $112,500 for head of household filers and $150,000 for married filing jointly are eligible for the full $1,200 for individuals and $2,400 married filing jointly. In addition, they are eligible for an additional $500 per qualifying child.

For filers with income above those amounts, the payment amount is reduced by $5 for each $100 above the $75,000/$112,500/$150,000 thresholds. Single filers with income exceeding $99,000, $136,500 for head of household filers and $198,000 for joint filers with no children are not eligible and will not receive payments.

4. When can I start checking Get My Payment for the status of my payment?

Answer: If you filed your 2018 or 2019 tax return and it has been processed, you can check Get My Payment for the status of your economic impact payment.