Negotiations around a new stimulus package are expected to pick up momentum this week, as the Senate returns to work Monday and Republican and Democratic lawmakers say they want to prioritize relief efforts. That means a second stimulus check of up to $1,200 for eligible Americans is still on the table.
We won’t know exactly who would qualify to receive it, or when to expect another payment until a final package is approved — either before the end of the year or after the Jan. 20 inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden. (Here’s Biden’s coronavirus stimulus plan, which does include another check.)
Whatever happens, it’s likely that the bill would closely follow the first stimulus payment, which was set in the CARES Act passed in March. However, there may be some changes to the eligibility rules that mean certain groups of people may not be able to receive a payment this time around.
We’ve broken down the highlights from recent proposals for a new stimulus bill to look for clues on who might not be eligible for another stimulus payment. We regularly update this story with new information.
Single taxpayers who have an AGI over $99,000
Your adjusted gross income is the sum of money you earn in one year, minus approved deductions. The IRS uses your AGI to determine if you qualify for all, some or none of the $1,200 stimulus check. Under the CARES Act, your AGI cutoff as a single taxpayer is $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.
However, if you make between $75,000 and $95,000, you would get a portion of the check, and likely will if the income rules don’t change. Here’s how to calculate how much money you could get.
Heads of households who have an AGI over $146,500
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 with this 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.
Married couples who have an AGI over $198,000
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.
Uncertain: Teenagers over 16 and college students under age 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, 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. However, now that Biden is president-elect, it’s possible that the White House will withdraw that proposal and introduce something new. We should know more in the coming weeks.
Uncertain: 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. However, noncitizens must have a Social Security number and live and work in the US to receive a stimulus check under the CARES Act.
However, 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 through a taxpayer identification number provided by the IRS.
People with spouses who are considered nonresident aliens
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.
People who owe child support payments (but that could change)
With the first stimulus check, if you were behind on child support payments by as much as $150, the government gave the states the right to garnish what you owed. 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.
Currently 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.
People who have died since the last tax filing
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. However, a precedent for this exists. 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.