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Ask the Expert: Taxes, relief payments during the coronavirus pandemic

Newsday is opening this story to all readers as we provide Long Islanders with news and information you can use during the coronavirus outbreak. All readers can learn the latest news at newsday.com/LiveUpdates.

The deadline for filing federal and NYS income tax returns has been moved to July 15. If I owe taxes, does this mean I can wait until July 15 to pay them?

Yes. Normally, a tax filing extension gives you more time to file your tax return — but no extra time to pay taxes you may owe. In this case, however, you can delay paying your federal and New York State taxes until July 15 without incurring any interest charges or penalty.

You also have until July 15 to make 2019 contributions to IRAs, Roth IRAs and health savings accounts.

Will federal, state and local taxes be deducted from the $1,200 relief checks the federal government is sending out? Could this payment move you into a higher tax bracket?

No and no. The relief payments aren't taxable income.

Based on my 2019 income, I should qualify for a $1,200 relief payment under the emergency CARES Act. But what if it turns out that my 2020 income disqualifies me for the full $1,200? Will I have to return part of this money?

No. The payments are based on income reported on your 2019 return (or on your 2018 return if you haven't yet filed a 2019 return).

Individuals with income up to $75,000 qualify to receive $1,200. Married couples filing jointly with income up to $150,000 qualify for $2,400. Heads of household with income up to $112,550 will receive a $1,200 payment. In addition, parents qualify for an extra $500 payment for each child under age 17. Relief payments are reduced for taxpayers with higher incomes, and not available to individuals earning $99,000 or more, and married couples earning $198,000 or more.

The bottom line

The 2020 relief payments are not taxable income.

More information

irs.gov/coronavirus/economic-impact-payment-information-center 

irs.gov/coronavirus/get-my-payment

TO ASK THE EXPERT Send questions to Ask the Expert/Act 2, Newsday, 6 Corporate Center Dr., Melville, NY 11747, or email act2@newsday.com. Include your name, address and phone numbers. Questions can be answered only in this column. Advice is offered as general guidance. Check with your own consultants for your specific needs.

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