FACT CHECK: Viral Video Claims You Have To Pay Back Your Coronavirus Stimulus Payment

Elias Atienza | Senior Reporter

A viral Instagram video claims Americans that receive coronavirus stimulus payments will owe the federal government $1,200 next tax season.


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Verdict: False

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) states the payments “will not reduce your refund or increase the amount you owe when you file your 2020 Federal income tax return.”

Fact Check:

President Donald Trump signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act on March 27. Included in the bill are “economic impact payments” that amount to $1,200 payments for single adults that have an adjusted gross income of $75,000 or less and $2,400 payments for married couples that earn $150,000 or less, as well as $500 payments for qualifying dependents under the age of 17, according to The New York Times.

The video, which originated on TikTok but has also surfaced on Facebook and Instagram, claims recipients will have to pay the federal government back when they file their 2020 tax returns. “So that means next year, you’re automatically going to owe $1,200 come tax season,” the man in the video says. “Guys, stay safe out there. Media and public is not telling you exactly what this bill is.”

The payments are refundable advance tax credits but, according to the IRS and the Tax Foundation, that does not mean they must be paid back. It is similar to the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit in that it doesn’t need to be repaid, per CNBC. (RELATED: No, Coronavirus Stimulus Payments Are Not Tied To The 2020 Census)

“The Payment is not includible in your gross income,” the IRS states on its website. “Therefore, you will not include the Payment in your taxable income on your Federal income tax return or pay income tax on your Payment. It will not reduce your refund or increase the amount you owe when you file your 2020 Federal income tax return.”

Nor will people who receive stimulus payments based on their 2018 or 2019 tax returns have to pay anything back if their earnings in 2020 exceed the threshold limits, according to the Tax Foundation.

“The most important thing to understand is that the rebate is a bonus amount,” Chye-Ching Huang, senior director of economic policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, told Snopes. “The stimulus payment won’t reduce tax refunds for 2020 (when people file in 2021) below what they would have been otherwise.”

An IRS spokesperson confirmed to the Daily Caller that people who receive the stimulus payments do not have to pay them back.

Elias Atienza

Senior Reporter
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