October 19, 2021

PC TECH THERAPY

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Here’s why you may not get more stimulus money if a second payment happens

7 min read


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Will you get another stimulus check if one’s approved? Not everyone will.


Sarah Tew/CNET

It’s anyone’s guess if another stimulus bill could pass by the end of 2020, but it’s looking less likely to a to include a second stimulus check this time. While negotiations over additional COVID-19 relief aid are expected to become heated this week, if a smaller bill does pass in 2020, it’s still possible that a larger one — with another stimulus payment of up to $1,200 per person — does come up for debate in 2021. And if it does, you can expect some changes in qualifications that could potentially raise or lower the size of your share.

It’s also possible that Congress could change stimulus payment qualifications in a way that disqualifies certain groups from receiving the money. Or, if your personal or financial situation has changed, you could be ineligible this time around. In one case, there may also be a way to “solve” the problem by filing a claim after the fact. 

Until a deal happens, we won’t know the final stimulus check facts, including the IRS payment schedule or the size of the check for people who would get it. These barriers to a second check are based on the first stimulus payment requirements and on the current lay of the land.

We update this story frequently with new information.


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Single taxpayers defined as high earners

Your adjusted gross income, or AGI, is the sum of money you earn in one year minus approved deductions. The IRS used your AGI to determine if you qualified for all, some or none of the first $1,200 stimulus check. Under the CARES Act, your AGI cutoff as a single taxpayer was $99,000 per year to qualify for a stimulus payment. If you earned more than that through a paycheck or other assets, like stocks, the IRS wouldn’t send you a check.

If you make between $75,000 and $95,000, however, you would get a portion of the check, and the same will likely be true of a second payment if the income rules don’t change. Here’s how to calculate how much money you could get.

Read more: Want your stimulus check faster? Do these things now

Heads of household who exceeded the income limit for stimulus checks

Similar to the single-taxpayer cutoff, heads of households (people who don’t file jointly and who claim a dependent) with an AGI over $146,500 were also excluded from the CARES Act — unless you qualified thanks to a loophole. To get some of the stimulus money, you would need to make less than $146,500. To get the full amount, your AGI would need to be less than $112,500 as the head of household.

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If you make more than the previous cutoff income, you likely won’t qualify for a second check.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Married couples who reported an AGI over this amount

If you’re a married couple filing jointly and have an AGI above $198,000, you likely won’t be eligible for a second stimulus payment, unless your children create a situation that appears to be an exception. To get the full payment of $2,400, your joint AGI would need to be less than $150,000. The amount you could receive will decrease if your AGI is between $150,000 and $198,000.

To determine your adjusted gross income, locate your 2019 tax statement. You’ll find your AGI on line 8b of the 2019 1040 federal tax form. If you didn’t file taxes in 2019, locate your 2018 tax document and navigate to line 7. 

Possibly: Teens who are over 16 and college students under 24

When the first round of stimulus checks was sent, millions of young Americans were excluded from receiving the payment — with these exceptions. Those who were between the ages of 17 and 24 and who were also claimed as child dependents didn’t get a check of their own due to the tax code definition of a child. So if you’re 17 or older, you’re not considered a child under the CARES Act, even if you still live at home.

While the House of Representatives passed a proposal that includes $500 in stimulus money for any person claimed as a dependent, regardless of age, the most recent White House proposal would keep the CARES Act definition, but increase the amount from $500 to $1,000. Even so, if someone claims you as a dependent on their taxes, you won’t get a check of your own. Now that former Vice President Joe Biden is president-elect, however, it seems that the current White House administration is no longer supporting that version of the stimulus proposal

Possibly: People who are considered ‘nonresident aliens’

If you’re a nonresident alien, you may not be eligible for a second stimulus check. The government defines a nonresident alien as someone who “has not passed the green card test or the substantial presence test.” 

Note that you don’t have to be a US citizen to receive the first stimulus payment. Noncitizens must have a Social Security number, however, and live and work in the US to receive a stimulus check under the CARES Act.

The Democrats’ revised Heroes Act proposal from Oct. 1 would extend stimulus checks to a group of people who aren’t US citizens and pay US taxes, with a taxpayer identification number provided by the IRS.

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Nonresident aliens likely won’t be eligible for a stimulus check.


Angela Lang/CNET

If your spouse’s status is nonresident alien, you might be disqualified

If you’re married to someone who is considered a nonresident alien, you weren’t able to receive the first stimulus check for yourselves or money for your dependents if you file your taxes jointly — even if the qualifying parent and child are citizens of the US. 

Currently, in order to receive a stimulus check, you’ll both need to have a Social Security number or be a member of the US Armed Forces during the tax year. If you file your taxes separately, the citizen may be eligible for a full or partial stimulus payment. The same goes for US citizens who claim their child dependents (as head of household) on a separate tax return from the noncitizen spouse. 

If you currently owe child support (this could potentially change)

With the first stimulus check, if you owed child support payments by as much as $150, the government gave the states the right to garnish the amount you needed to pay. For example, if you owed $2,000, your entire stimulus check went to your child’s other parent. If you owed $500, that amount was taken out of your stimulus check.

The next stimulus bill could include the same language, depending on which one gets passed. The Democratic proposal would prohibit garnishing money to pay missing child support, whereas the Republican-authored HEALS Act would keep this requirement.

Under legal review: People who are incarcerated

Originally, people who were incarcerated were deemed by the IRS to be eligible to receive a stimulus check, and then they were interpreted as ineligible. But a ruling from a federal judge in California allows inmates to file for the first stimulus payment online by Nov. 21, noting that the CARES Act didn’t explicitly ban this group. 

The IRS has appealed this decision but has sent paperwork to prisons for inmates. It’s unclear whether incarcerated people will get a second stimulus check, even if they received the first, and it may depend on the wording either in the successful stimulus bill or in the final ruling on the ongoing case.

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Incarcerated people were originally denied a stimulus payment.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Anyone who has died since the last tax return

The IRS “sent almost 1.1 million payments totaling nearly $1.4 billion to deceased individuals,” according to the US Government Accountability Office, before asking for the money back (return process here).

If someone has died since the previous tax filing, the current IRS guidance is that they’re currently not eligible to receive a check and their families can’t keep the money on their behalf — for example, if the deceased filed taxes jointly with a spouse. If by accident a check is addressed to them, the IRS expects the family to return the payment, though they may not be legally required to do so.

It’s unclear if families could collect a second stimulus check on behalf of a person who has died, for instance, as a result of COVID-19. A precedent for this exists, however. Families were able to keep the stimulus checks from the 2008 economic crisis in the event of a death, according to ProPublica and CNBC.

There may also be exceptions, like if the deceased person died in 2020, Janet Holtzblatt, a senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center, said in April. The Bureau of the Fiscal Service has canceled outstanding stimulus payments to anyone who isn’t eligible — including those who died before the checks were received.

If you’re still confused about whether you’ll be eligible for the next stimulus payment, here’s who may qualify for a second stimulus check. Also, you may not get a stimulus check if you move and forget to file a change of address. Plus, here’s when the IRS could send the second check, if approved.



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