Stimulus Check Qualification Rules Could Change With a Second Payment

Congress is scrambling to piece together another relief package before the end of the year that would, if some legislators have their say, include a second economic stimulus check for individuals and families who meet the requirements.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent, and Sen. Josh Hawley, a Republican, are looking to modify a $908 billion plan with an amendment that would authorize a second check for up to $1,200. The unamended proposal doesn’t include another direct payment. If Sanders and Hawley’s amendment is successful, the new payment would likely follow the same outlines of the first stimulus check for speed and simplicity, but even minor changes could have a significant impact for millions.

Another new proposal, this time from the White House, would provide $600 apiece for each qualifying adult and child, Though it’s less likely we’ll see this proposal become law, if it did it would clearly affect how much money a household could get, by halving the share per qualifying adult and increasing it by $100 per eligible child dependent

Even if no stimulus check is approved in 2020, the discussions happening now could impact the stimulus check conversation in early 2021. There’s clearly enough support for a second round of aid before there are enough available doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to inoculate the US population.

Read on for more information about what may happen to stimulus eligibility now. We update this story often.

How the qualifications could change with a new bill

While many members of Congress agree on the need for more aid, they differ on the specifics, and the two sides continue to discuss who needs assistance and how much to spend. Based on proposals that’ve been on the table this fall, here’s what lawmakers could do (or have already done):

Update the definition of a dependent: The CARES Act capped eligible dependents at kids age 16 and younger. One proposal this summer expanded the definition to any dependent, child or adult, you could claim on federal taxes. That means families with older kids or older adults at home could potentially see $500 more in their check total per individual if that proposal is adopted.

Read more: Nobody can take your stimulus check away, right? Not quite

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If the definition of a dependent changes, your family could benefit. Angela Lang/CNET

Raise the amount of money per child dependent: One White House proposal from October would’ve kept the definition of a child dependent used in the CARES Act but increased the sum per individual to $1,000 on the final household check. (Based on that, here’s how to estimate your total stimulus money and here’s the IRS’ formula for families.)

The White House’s new Dec. 8 proposal would reportedly raise the sum for each qualifying child to $600, up from $500 in the CARES Act.

Stop seizing overdue child support: The Democrats this summer pushed to let a parent who owed child support receive a payment; the original CARES Act allowed the government to redirect payments to cover overdue support.

Send checks to people who are incarcerated: After months of back and forth, the IRS is sending checks to those who are incarcerated and eligible for a payment. A Republican plan this summer would’ve excluded the payments.

Include noncitizens: The CARES Act made a Social Security number a requirement for a payment. Other proposals would’ve expanded the eligibility to those with an ITIN instead of a Social Security number because they’re classified as a resident or nonresident alien. A Republican plan this summer would’ve excluded those with an ITIN.

Who could qualify for a second stimulus check

Qualifying groupLikely to be covered by the final bill
IndividualsAn AGI of less than $99,000 (Same as CARES)
Head of householdAn AGI of less than $146,500 (Same as CARES)
Couple filing jointlyAn AGI less than $198,000 (Same as CARES)
Dependents of any ageNo limit (HEALS proposal; up to 3 in Heroes)
US citizens living abroadYes, same as CARES
Citizens of US territoriesLikely, with payments handled by each territory’s tax authority (CARES)
SSDI and tax nonfilersLikely, but with an extra step to file (more below)
Uncertain statusCould be set by court ruling or bill
Incarcerated peopleExcluded under CARES through IRS interpretation, judge overturned
Undocumented immigrantsQualifying “alien residents” are currently included under CARES
Disqualified groupUnlikely to be covered by the final bill
Noncitizens who pay taxes (ITIN)Proposed in Heroes, unlikely to pass in Senate
Spouses, kids of ITIN filersExcluded under CARES, more below
People who owe child supportIncluded in Heroes proposal, but excluded under CARES

Would the income limits be similar with another check?

Under the CARES Act, here are the income limits based on your adjusted gross income for the previous year that would qualify you for a stimulus check, assuming you met all the other requirements. (More below for people who don’t normally file taxes.) With the amendment proposed by Sanders and Hawley on Dec. 10, the requirements guidelines would follow those set out in the CARES Act.

  • You’re a single tax filer and earn less than $99,000.
  • You file as the head of a household and earn under $146,500.
  • You file jointly with a spouse and earn less than $198,000 combined.

What role do my taxes play in how much I could get? What if I don’t file taxes? 

For most people, taxes and stimulus checks are tightly connected. For example, the most important factor in setting income limits is adjusted gross income, or AGI, which determines how much of the total amount you could receive, be it $600 or $1,200 for individuals and $1,200 or $2,400 for married couples (excluding children for now).

Our stimulus check calculator can show you how much money you could potentially expect from a second check, based on your most recent tax filing and a $1,200 per person cap. Read below for your eligibility if you don’t typically file taxes.

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How much stimulus money you could get depends on who you are. Angela Lang/CNET

What should retired and older adults know?

Many older adults, including retirees over age 65, received a first stimulus check under the CARES Act, and would likely be eligible for a second one. For older adults and retired people, factors like your tax filingsyour AGI, your pension, if you’re part of the SSDI program (more below) and whether the IRS considers you a dependent would likely affect your chances of receiving a second payment. 

If I share custody or owe child support, how does that affect eligibility?

Due to a specific rule, if you and the other parent of your child dependent alternate years claiming your child on your tax return, you may both be entitled to receive $500 more in your first stimulus check, and in the second if that rule doesn’t change.If you owe child support, your stimulus money may be garnished for arrears (the amount you owe). https://playlist.megaphone.fm/?e=CBS4695642448&light=true

I haven’t submitted my federal tax return for at least two years. Can I still get money?

People who weren’t required to file a federal income tax return in 2018 or 2019 may still be eligible to receive the first stimulus check under the CARES Act. If that guideline doesn’t change for a second stimulus check, this group would qualify again. Here are reasons you might not have been required to file:

  • You’re over 24, you’re not claimed as a dependent and your income is less than $12,200.
  • You’re married filing jointly and together your income is less than $24,400.
  • You have no income.
  • You receive federal benefits, such as Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability Insurance. See below for more on SSDI.

With the first stimulus check, nonfilers needed to provide the IRS with some information before they could receive their payment. (If you still haven’t received a first check even though you were eligible, the IRS said you can claim it on your taxes in 2021.) This fall, the IRS attempted to contact 9 million Americans who may’ve fallen into this category but who haven’t requested their payment. Those in this group can claim their payment on next year’s taxes.

I’m part of the SSI or SSDI program. Am I eligible to get a stimulus check?

Those who are part of the SSI or SSDI program also qualify for a check under the CARES Act. Recipients wouldn’t receive their payments via their Direct Express card, which the government typically uses to distribute federal benefits, but through a non-Direct Express bank account or as a paper check. SSDI recipients can file next year to request a payment for themselves and dependents.

For more, here’s what we know about the major proposals for another stimulus package. We also have information on unemployment insurance, what you can do if you’ve lost your job and what to know about evictions.

Coronavirus updates

First published on June 25, 2020 at 4:15 a.m. PT.BudgetingTaxesPoliticsPersonal Finance How To

By: Clifford Colby, Julie Snyder, Katie Conner

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