by Dina Kupfer

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — As a part of the $2.3 trillion stimulus package known as the CARES Act, the IRS started sending stimulus checks to millions of Americans last week.

The federal stimulus money can’t come soon enough for the millions of Californians now out of work, but are strings attached to that money? Sacramento-area financial expert Jeffrey Bangerter, President at Bangerter Financial Services, helped clarify a few points.

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Bangerter said Americans will not have to claim this money as taxable income next tax season.

“This is essentially free money. So the government is sending it to you if you qualify,” he said.

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The size of the check will be less for those who earned more than $75,000, and that is based on your most recent federal tax return.

“It’ll be the last year you filed for. So if you haven’t filed your 2019 taxes yet, because they pushed that extension until July 15, then it would be based on your 2018 [return],” Bangerter said.

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Some are also wondering if all children qualify for the credit. Bangerter said all dependents age 16 and younger with a valid social security number do qualify for the $500 credit. But, the bill doesn’t provide any kind of payments to children 17 or older.

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“You could certainly have a 17 or 18-year-old living at home that’s still going to school, maybe doesn’t even have a job, and you don’t get anything,” he said.

Finally, Bangerter assures that you don’t need to take any action to receive the stimulus check. As long as you file taxes, you will receive the money.

“The beautiful part of it is if you’ve been paying electronically or getting your refund electronically, they will just put money into that account the IRS has on file,” Bangerter said.

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Bangerter says if your annual income this year — in 2020 — is more than the $75,000 to $99,000, you do not have to pay back the stimulus check.