RALEIGH — More than a million North Carolina parents are receiving good news in the mail right now: a check from state government for $335 to help offset costs associated with parenting during the coronavirus pandemic.
And for those who needed to apply for the grants instead of receiving them automatically, the deadline to apply has been extended into December.
If you have received a check or want to know if you’re getting one, here’s what you need to know:
What is this $335 check?
It is an Extra Credit Grant for North Carolina parents meant to help pay for expenses related to schools being closed to in-person education so many months this year.
Why is it $335?
That’s the amount that could be given to the state’s more than one million parents using COVID-19 relief money.
Whose money is it?
Yours. It comes from the federal government, which receives taxpayer money. It was part of the federal CARES Act money that our state government distributed through a COVID-19 relief package signed into law in early September.
Is this just for North Carolina?
Yes. Although it uses federal money, North Carolina parents are receiving it because it was part of state legislation. Republican leaders in the General Assembly came up with the idea. It received support from most Democrats and was passed by the legislature, then signed by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper.
Is the money only by check?
Yes, the $335 grants are only distributed by check. There is no direct deposit.
Who's sending out the checks?
The N.C. Department of Revenue is in charge of distributing the Extra Credit Grants. The return address on the envelope says “State of North Carolina Department of Revenue” with a post office box address in Raleigh.
Each check comes with a piece of paper explaining what it is: “This grant award is intended to assist you with the additional virtual schooling or childcare expenses incurred due to COVID-19. This grant award check is valid for 90 days.”
So the check expires?
Yes. You have 90 days to cash it.
How many checks are in the mail?
For the first phase of checks, the ones being mailed automatically to those who claimed a dependent child on their state income tax forms: just over a million checks have been sent or are being sent this week.
Are the automatic checks sent out in alphabetical order?
No. There is no determined distribution order for the first phase other than internal Department of Revenue coding.
When do automatic checks arrive?
The automatic checks to individuals who qualified by filing their 2019 state income taxes started being mailed out by the Department of Revenue the week of Oct. 19. The last batch of automatic checks are being mailed right now. The checks are mailed to the address listed on your 2019 tax return, or to a new one if you updated your address by Oct. 14.
What about other checks?
For people who did not claim a child tax exemption on their tax return, the original deadline to apply for the grant was Oct. 15. The Department of Revenue is processing those applications now.
Those checks will start being mailed out in mid- to late November through Dec. 15. If someone filed an amended return or filed an original return between Oct. 1 and Oct. 15, those are included in that late fall batch, also.
Was anyone left out?
Yes, if someone made too much money to claim a dependent on line 10a of their tax form D-400, they don’t get the grant. And for those who didn’t make enough money to file taxes, they only get the money if they apply.
If you missed the application deadline and want to apply, contact the Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy by Dec. 7 at 888-301-1555 or firstname.lastname@example.org. A recorded message will ask for your contact information to follow up.
How many people applied?
The Department of Revenue received 16,655 completed applications for the Extra Credit Grants. There is also an undetermined number of taxpayers who filed their original 2019 returns after Oct. 1 or filed an amended 2019 return, Johnson said. The department did not calculate an estimate of who could have applied but did not. There was a limited time frame between the bill’s passage and the deadline, Johnson explained, and reliable estimates were not available externally.
“In order to increase awareness of the application deadline for those who will not receive the payment automatically, the Department advertised on radio stations, in newspapers, and on billboards statewide in addition to vigorous stakeholder outreach,” Johnson said.
Now, because of Friday’s court ruling, there will be more applications coming through the legal advocacy center.
If I should have gotten a check but didn't what should I do?
If you think you should have qualified by filing a tax return before Oct. 1 and have not received a check by Nov. 15, you should contact the Department of Revenue by phone at 877-252-3052.
Have more questions?
Visit ncdor.gov/extracredit for more details and to see the information translated in Spanish.