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Who Gets The $850 Maine Stimulus Check? –Forbes Advisor

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In an attempt to help residents deal with high inflation costs, Maine has begun issuing $850 stimulus payments to qualified taxpayers.

As of June 24, stimulus checks have been sent to more than half of those who are eligible, and more are on the way.

“As housing, food, and energy costs have increased, the stimulus checks will be a big help for low-income households struggling to cover higher costs,” says Sarah Austin, director of policy and research at the Maine Center for Economic Policy (MECEP). ).

Though nine other states have passed stimulus relief plans, Maine offers the highest payout for its residents. This emergency legislation is accompanied by a handful of other financial relief measures in the state’s supplemental budget for fiscal year 2022-2023, and is estimated to impact 858,000 Maine residents.

What is the Maine Direct Relief Payment?

Maine’s relief plan offers direct payments of $850 to individuals and $1,700 to joint filers.

These payments are meant to help residents cover necessities like groceries, gas and utilities, according to the governor’s office, but residents can use the money for any purpose they choose.

Per the governor’s announcement, Maine residents must meet the following requirements to qualify for the relief payment:

  • File a Maine individual income tax return as a full-time resident by October 31, 2022.
  • Can’t be claimed as a dependent on another resident’s tax return
  • Have a federal adjusted gross income (FAGI) of less than:
    • $100,000 if filing single or married and filing separately
    • $150,000 if filing as head of household
    • $200,000 for couples filing jointly

When and How Will Payments Be Issued?

The Maine Department of Administrative and Financial Services (DAFS) began issuing the first round of payments on June 1, 2022 via the US Postal Service (USPS). Governor Mills said this initial delivery would include 5,000 checks, and as many as 200,000 would be sent each week thereafter.

In a statement provided to Forbes Advisor, the DAFS confirmed that payments are being issued on schedule. “As of June 24, 2022, 453,805 relief checks have been mailed and an additional 97,663 are queued up for printing and/or mailing,” the agency said.

Some delays were to be expected, however. An envelope shortage initially threatened to slow distribution, but the issue has reportedly been resolved.

The majority of residents who filed their 2021 state taxes will receive their payments by the end of July, according to the DAFS, and additional checks will be issued through the end of the year as tax returns are processed. Residents can visit Maine.gov and provide some information including their Social Security number to check their Maine stimulus check status.

What if You Haven’t Received Your Payment?

Maine is in the process of issuing payments, so your check may be on its way. Residents who haven’t received their payment and are unable to track their check status may need to take the following steps:

File 2021 State Income Taxes (There’s Still Time)

Stimulus payments will not be issued to anyone who has not filed their 2021 state income tax return. While Maine’s tax filing deadline has passed for 2021, residents can still file through October 31, 2022 to receive a direct payment.

Those who don’t regularly file, including individuals who receive Social Security or SSI, must file a Form 1040ME and complete the appropriate sections of Schedule PTFC/STFC by Oct. 31 to receive their check.

Austin of the Maine Center for Economic Policy points out that lower-income families often miss out on stimulus payments, child tax credits and other tax benefits, since they’re less likely to file tax returns. “The state has taken some measures to overcome this, including funding for a free tax prep site,” she says. Free help with tax preparation can be accessed through cashmaine.org, 211maine.org or by calling 2-1-1.

The DAFS also advises that this could be an opportunity to claim other state tax benefits you’re eligible to receive. “A Mainer who is typically a non-filer, for the purposes of claiming in the $850, can follow the same process to claim the property tax and sales tax fairness credits, and [it] doesn’t require them to file a federal return.”

Update Your Address

Payment will be mailed to the address provided on your 2021 Maine individual income tax return, and redirected to forwarding addresses recorded with the USPS.

If you need to update the address you have on file with the Maine Revenue Services (MRS), you’ll need to submit proof of your new address, along with other identifying information such as your SSN, in writing. Instructions can be found at Maine.gov.

If you believe your stimulus check has been lost or stolen, contact Maine Revenue Services at (207) 624-9924.

Stimulus Check Scams

Federal stimulus check scams were rampant during the pandemic, and some Maine residents are being targeted by similar scams.

In May, the attorney general’s office and Maine Revenue Services issued an announcement, warning that scammers had been posing as “Maine IRS” agents, in order to request Social Security numbers and other sensitive information.

Consumers should note that the Maine Revenue Service (MRS), which is sending the Maine stimulus payments, is a separate agency from the IRS.

The IRS is a federal agency, and will not contact taxpayers about their state stimulus payments. The IRS also advises that it will never “initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text or social media to request personal or financial information,” and that errors in communication, including misspellings and poor grammar, are common red flags for fraud.

In a May statement, Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey advised consumers to be on the lookout for such scams. “Do not share any identifying information with anyone demanding such information over the phone without independently confirming their identity,” he said.

Is Additional Help Coming for Maine Residents?

After last year’s $285 payments from the state’s Disaster Relief Program, Maine residents might be wondering if state-sponsored payments will become a recurring benefit.

According to Austin, Mainers have no reason to expect another payout like this. While the stimulus check is a response to economic conditions, it was created for another practical purpose. “Maine has budget rules like nearly every other state that require our budgets to be balanced,” she says.

More than half of the state’s budget surplus is going toward the new stimulus plan.

The new supplemental budget also includes other significant one-time initiatives. Budget highlights include:

  • A tax break for those who collect a Maine retirement pension, including a gradual increase in their annual deduction, from the current limit of $10,000 up to $35,000 in 2024.
  • An increase in Maine’s Property Tax Fairness Credit, which will give an estimated $1,000 per year in refundable tax credit to homeowners, and up to $1,500 a year to senior homeowners.
  • Two years of free community college for pandemic-impacted students
  • Up to $2,500 per year, or $25,000 per lifetime, in refundable tax credit benefits for student loan debt relief

Austin says that Maine has also permanently doubled its earned income tax credit (EITC).

“[This] will have an average benefit for families of about $400 a year and help about 100,000 households in the state,” she says.“This is a benefit that low income families should be able to expect in the future so long as they file state income taxes .”

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