Q&A: Do I get an $850 check from the state?
Q: Why do we receive these checks?
A: The state expects to bring in $1.2 billion more than expected next year, due to a combination of federal COVID relief money and increased tax revenue.
The governor and legislature have agreed to use more than half of that surplus to help Maine residents feel the financial squeeze of soaring consumer prices for everything from groceries to fuel oil and gasoline. .
And because economists don’t think the surplus will last, state officials have wanted to use it for one-time spending rather than pursuing programs that should be paid for in future years when the surplus is gone. .
Q: Whose idea was this?
A: Democratic Governor Janet Mills proposed the relief checks in her surplus spending plan, but credited some Republican lawmakers who had publicly suggested the idea.
Members of both parties supported him, although the details were the result of a negotiated compromise. Some Republicans wanted to include high incomes, while some Democrats wanted to limit it to low income residents.
Q: Who is eligible?
A: To be eligible, individuals must file a Maine personal income tax return as a full-time resident by October 31, 2022, not be claimed as a dependent on another’s tax return, and have income federal adjusted gross less than $100,000 as individuals (or if married and filing separately), less than $150,000 as head of household, or less than $200,000 for couples filing jointly.
Q: Does each household only receive one check?
A: No. Each eligible person will receive a check. Thus, a household with two eligible adults will receive a total of $1,700.
Q: Are Social Security recipients eligible this time around?
A: Yes. While previous relief payments were aimed at workers, this one goes to a wider group of people, including those who are not working.
Q: What if I qualify but don’t file a tax return?
A: Some people eligible for the relief check may not be required to file tax returns, including some low-income Social Security recipients.
To become eligible, these individuals must file a tax return by October 31.
Social Security recipients who have not filed can use tax form SSA-1099, which the federal government sent out in January, to file a return.
For free tax help, the state advises taxpayers of all ages to visit cashmaine.org or call 211.
Q: Why can’t I get it by direct deposit like my tax return?
A: The Mills administration said sending checks, rather than making direct deposits, is the most reliable way to distribute funds and avoid errors. And they said the extra programming needed to distribute the check electronically would actually slow down the process.
Administration officials said some tax refunds are routed to professional filers, so an extra level of scrutiny would be needed to ensure the money went to the right person. They also said only about half of the 800,000 people eligible for the payments had provided bank account information to the state, and about 49,000 people had since switched accounts.
Q: What if I have a new mailing address?
A: Relief checks will be mailed to the address listed on your 2021 Maine Personal Income Tax Return and will be redirected to all forwarding addresses filed with the U.S. Postal Service.
If you wish to update the address on file with Maine Tax Services, please submit in writing: the date of the request, along with your name (print), Social Security number, signature, and a proof of new address (such as current photo ID, utility bill, lease, etc.).
Send request to: Maine Revenue Services, PO Box 9107, Augusta, ME 04332-9107
Q: How can I get more information or report a problem?
A: For more information, visit Maine.gov/governor/mills/relief-checks or call Maine Tax Services at 207-624-9924.
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