By Sue Hamlett
In June, the state of Maine began mailing $850 COVID relief checks to Maine households. Most adults are eligible for the payments, including people with little or no income. Here is more information about the checks, and if you need help be sure to try these resources:
➤ For help getting your $850 check, contact the CA$H coalition at www.cashmaine.org/ which provides free tax preparation for people with low incomes.
➤ If you have questions about your public benefits and the $850 checks, contact Maine Equal Justice through our website: maineequaljustice.org/contact-us/
➤ If you have questions about the $850 checks and you’re a parent or caregiver, contact Maine Equal Justice’s Credit to Kids Organizer Flavia Debrito at (207) 888-3963.
Will I get the $850 payment from the state?
You likely qualify for this payment if you:
● Have an income below:
○ $100,000 if you’re single or married filing separately, or
○ $150,000 if you’re filing as head of household, or
○ $200,000 for couples filing jointly, AND
● Are a “full time Maine resident” for tax purposes, meaning you maintain a permanent residence in Maine and live more than half the year in Maine.
If you and another adult in your household both qualify, you will each get an $850 payment.
Children and individuals who can be claimed as someone else’s dependent are not eligible for payments. But if you have children, you are likely eligible for the Child Tax Credit, worth up to $3,600 for each child! See more on this below.
There are no eligibility restrictions based on immigration, as long as you qualify as a Maine resident for tax purposes. If you don’t have a Social Security Number (SSN), you will need to apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, or ITIN, with the IRS so that you can file taxes. You need a SSN or ITIN to file a Maine income tax return to get the $850 payment. You might also be eligible for other tax credits. If you think you may need an ITIN, please contact Maine Equal Justice and we can help you.
How will I get the $850 payment from the state of Maine?
If you already filed 2021 state income taxes, you’ll automatically receive this payment.. You will be able to get the payment even if you only file for the Property Tax Fairness Credit or Sales Tax Fairness Credit. It will come to you in the mail as a paper check. Payments are expected to begin to go out at the beginning of June. They will be sent out through the end of the year. Your check will be sent to the address used on your 2021 Maine income tax return.
If you haven’t filed taxes this year (or ever), you can still get the payment! You can get help filing by going to CashMaine.org. You have until October 31, 2022, to file your Maine taxes to get the payment. By filing state and federal taxes, you’ll also get any other tax credits you’re eligible for, which can be up to thousands of dollars for your family.
My address has changed since I filed my taxes. What should I do?
If your address has changed since you filed your taxes, you should update your address with Maine Revenue Services (MRS) as soon as you can. You can mail them a change of address notice with your name, Social Security number, new address, signature, and proof of identity (like an image of your driver’s license) to MRS at P.O. Box 1067, Augusta, ME 04332-1067. You can also scan and email this information to MRS at [email protected].
Will I lose any of my benefits because of the $850 payment?
Receiving the $850 payment will NOT cause you to lose any of your Maine Department of Health and Human Services benefits. Maine DHHS has confirmed that the $850 will not be counted as income or an asset for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), MaineCare, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) unless it’s kept for longer than 30 days. The $850 will also not have any impact on your ability to get General Assistance (GA) – it will not count as income or a potential resource. Maine State Housing Authority has confirmed that the $850 will not be counted in determining eligibility for Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA).
Receiving the $850 payment will NOT affect your SSI benefits.
Do I have to pay taxes on the $850 payment?
No, the payments should not count for federal or state taxes. If you have concerns about your personal situation, you can ask your tax professional or work with CA$H Maine to file your taxes.
Will the state keep the $850 payment for owed debts?
No. Pandemic Relief Payments are not subject to collection against debts owed to Maine Revenue Services or to other state agencies.
I think I should get a payment, but I didn’t get it or I think it is lost or stolen. What should I do?
Contact Maine Revenue Services at (207) 624-9924.
Watch out for scammers!
The Maine Attorney General’s Office and MRS have warned that there are scammers claiming to be the “Maine IRS” targeting residents and requesting Social Security numbers, maiden names, and other sensitive information, stating it was needed to process the $850 relief checks. Do not share any personally identifying information with anyone without independently confirming their identity first. MRS will not call, email, or text you for this information.