AUGUSTA, Maine — When Gov. Janet Mills signed the supplemental budget into law, more than 858,000 Mainers became eligible for $850 inflation relief checks.
The Mills administration launched a website Friday to help answer people's questions about how to get those checks.
The website, Maine.gov/reliefchecks, aims to answer a series of frequently asked questions, including who is eligible, when will I receive my $850, how will I receive my $850, and what if I need help filing my taxes, among others.
Part of the relief proposal dedicated $100,000 to ensure the continued availability of CA$H Maine to assist any Mainers in this situation. For free tax help, low- and middle-income Maine taxpayers may visit www.cashmaine.org, call 2-1-1, or visit 211maine.org.
In addition to filing their 2021 Maine individual income tax return by Oct. 31, 2022, those eligible for the $850 relief payment must file as a full-time Maine resident, not be claimed as a dependent on another’s return, and must have a federal adjusted gross income, or FAGI, of less than:
- $100,000 if filing single or if married and filing separately;
- $150,000 if filing as head of household; or
- $200,000 for couples filing jointly.
David Bright of Dixmont asked NEWS CENTER Maine if couples filing jointly would receive one $850 check or two.
Is there a "marriage penalty" for couples filing jointly?
Kelsey Goldsmith, spokesperson for Maine's Department of Administrative and Financial Services
WHAT WE FOUND
The governor's office wrote this in a press release:
"The budget give back is expected to deliver $1,700 in relief to the average Maine household."
The text of the bill says the special relief fund the bill created must be used for a payment of $850 to each eligible resident of the State.
Goldsmith helped clarify in an email:
"If two people file jointly and their tax return meets the eligibility criteria for a relief payment (e.g. income of below $200,000 etc.), both individuals will receive an $850 relief check, for total relief of $1,700."
Goldsmith explained where the confusion may have come from. She said it may stem from the $285 relief checks.
She wrote last year's relief program "was specifically designed by the Legislature and Gov. Mills as a thank you to Maine people who worked during the early days of the pandemic."
"Compared to the previous relief program, the wages requirement has been dropped and so we expect approximately 333,000 *more* Maine people to qualify for this $850 in relief compared to last year’s relief checks," Goldsmith wrote. "Last time, both had to have employee wages in order for both to receive a check – but this time, in the case of a two parent household where one parent stays at home or has self-employment income rather than wages, both will qualify for the payment."