COVID-19 stimulus check. Direct deposit! Coronavirus bank account!

Apr 5, 2020

Hello everyone! Since we’re all reading as much as we can on the COVID-19, face masks, ways to entertain ourselves at home and make up money, I am writing this article. We all want a direct deposit.

I already wrote an article about the stimulus itself here. Firstly, if your income in 2018/2019 was less than $75,000, you would get a $1,200 refund. If it is more in 2019, and you already filed your 2018 tax return, you might want to wait to file your 2019 tax return in order to get the $1,200 refund.

You do not have to apply for it. It’s automatic.

Direct deposit!!!

We all want a direct deposit. When do we want it? We want it now! The stimulus check is eligible for a direct deposit and if you provided direct deposit information on your last tax return. It will be used to deposit the refund to your US bank account.
A downside of this refund being automatic is that the IRS will only use information already available, as such. They would only issue a direct deposit if they already have your bank information on file. This implies that you already had a refund on your last tax return.

What really got me to draft this article is a phone call I had with someone last week. And I realize that my clients have various degrees of connection with the United States. That means that you might or might not have a US bank account.

If you have a US bank account, your bank most likely has an app for a smartphone allowing you to deposit the check by taking a picture. On the other hand, if not, they would have a “bank by mail” branch and you could cash your check by signing it and sending it.

If you don’t have a US bank account, your foreign bank might cash your US check… for a fee.

As it turns out, to the person I spoke with last week, which was not an option (no US bank account and the foreign bank was not agreeable to cash a US check. So, I offered to open a US bank account. In most cases, US banks would want you to show up in person in their branch (not a legal requirement, but the banks are free to include it as part of the way they comply with the KYC requirements).

The bank I would recommend (for personal bank accounts) is the Department of State credit union (State Department Federal Credit Union (SDFCU) – used by employees of US consulates and embassies).  As it is a credit union, you would need an affiliation with it in order to open a bank account. That affiliation takes the form of an ACA membership. More information is found here.

I am affiliated with neither SDFCU nor ACA. Also,  I am aware of difficulties in banking caused by living overseas. It is one of the few opportunities to open a US bank account remotely. You will then be able to direct deposit your $1,200 check into it. Then, you can either spend it wherever you are with your SDFCU debit card or initiate an international wire transfer.

I wish you all the very best and let me know if I can help you further,
Olivier Wagner, EA, CPA

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