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Stimulus check qualifications are tangled and confusing. Here's what to know about a second payment

por Remona Faust (2021-02-20)

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A change to qualifications could bring families more money.
Angela Lang/CNET
Even if you received a stimulus payment earlier this year, you won't necessarily be eligible to get a second stimulus check. It all comes down to what negotiations hash out in a final bill that includes a check in addition to other economic aid. The competing proposals over the last several months have hinted at change for at least three of the eligibility rules in a second round of payments, and if one is selected, your family could get more money than before. In one instance, an interpretation of the law may prompt the Internal Revenue Service to send out more payments to an entire group of people. 

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Your dependents, the age of people in your household, whether you pay or collect or receive child support, your tax status and yearly income are some of the main parameters that could determine eligibility. Some people with dependents may find that they're owed a catch-up check from the first round. Confused yet? We'll do our Best Travel Insurance In India to clear it all up below. And for further reading, learn how the IRS calculates payment amounts. We recently updated this story. (P.S. Here's how Americans say they'd use the second checks.)

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Here's who may qualify for a second stimulus payment
We'll start with this list we've gathered and break down more details for groups who fall into these categories.It's likely that if a second stimulus check is approved, it'll follow many of the guidelines from the CARES Act that governed the first check in March. But it will probably also draw some changes from the revised Heroes Act (put forth by House Democrats) and HEALS Act (put forth by Republicans). Neither of those proposals is law. Who could qualify for a second stimulus check

Qualifying group

Likely to be covered by the final bill


An AGI of less than $99,000 (Same as CARES)

Head of household

An AGI of less than $146,500 (Same as CARES)

Couple filing jointly

An AGI less than $198,000 (Same as CARES)

Dependents of any age

No limit (HEALS proposal; up to 3 in Heroes)

US citizens living abroad

Yes, same as CARES

Citizens of US territories

Likely, with payments handled by each territory's tax authority (CARES)

SSDI and tax nonfilers

Likely, but with an extra step to file (more below)

Uncertain status

Could be set by court ruling

Incarcerated people

Excluded under CARES Act through IRS interpretation, judge overturned

Undocumented immigrants

Qualifying "alien residents" are currently included under CARES

Disqualified group

Unlikely to be covered by the final bill

Noncitizens who pay taxes

Proposed in Heroes Act, unlikely to pass in Senate

People who owe child support

Included in Heroes proposal, but excluded under CARES

The current status of undocumented immigrantsYou don't have to be an American citizen to qualify for the first stimulus check. The CARES Act stipulated that some permanent non-citizen residents, "resident aliens," and some people who live in US territories like Puerto Rico were eligible for a stimulus payment if they met a set of qualifications.The Heroes Act, a proposal authored and backed by Democrats, called for undocumented immigrant residents of the US to also qualify. Many undocumented residents pay taxes. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the lead Democratic negotiator for the stimulus package, is said to be pushing for this group to be included in a bill that would authorize a second stimulus check.Two ways qualifications for families could change in Round 2Three separate proposals have changed the language concerning your dependents and how much money you could see in a final check if you claim them on your taxes. Two of these earlier proposals would add $500 for each dependent, regardless of the person's age. The White House's Oct. 9 offer seeks to largely keep the definition of a dependent restricted to "children" as defined in the bill, but it raises the value to $1,000, which would still net many families more money. The first stimulus check, approved in March, added $500 per each child under 17 years old. But unless your dependents fell into a different category, children 17 and older and adult dependents, like a parent, were passed over. The first proposal would benefit families with older dependents, while the second benefits younger families. We'll show you how to calculate your estimated total here.A court ruling could give people who are incarcerated the chance to get a second check -- and a firstA class-action lawsuit in California could make a change to who gets a stimulus check. Specifically, up to 2 million people who are incarcerated may be able to claim their checks if this ruling holds -- or family members may be able to claim the checks on the individuals' behalf. coins-measuring-spoonsHow much stimulus money you could get depends on who you are.
Angela Lang/CNET
How does it work if you share custody of a child or owe child support? 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). The role taxes might play in your stimulus check eligibility 
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 $1,200 for individuals and $2,400 for married couples you could receive if you meet the other requirements. 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. Read below for your eligibility if you don't typically file taxes. As an older or retired adult, can I expect to get a stimulus check? 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 will likely affect your chances of receiving a second payment.  What do I need to do if I didn't file a federal tax return in 2018 or 2019?
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 Social Security or Social Security Disability Insurance. See below for more on SSDI.With the first stimulus check, non-filers 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 has extended its deadline to use its Non-Filers tool through Nov. 21.) The IRS is also reaching out to 9 million Americans who may fall into this category but who haven't requested their payment. I receive SSDI: Can I still get another stimulus payment?
Those who are part of the Social Security Disability Insurance 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 also need to use the IRS' Non-Filers tool to request a payment for themselves and dependents. What are the rules for US citizens living abroad, or citizens of a US territory? You may still be eligible for a stimulus check, but the rules are different. Here's what you need to know.

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Who wasn't eligible to receive the first check?
From the payment authorized under the CARES Act, which became law in March, these groups were excluded: Single taxpayers with an AGI over $99,000.Heads of households with an AGI over $136,500.Married couples with an AGI over $198,000.Children over 16 and college students under age 24."Nonresident aliens," as defined by the US government.People who owe child support.People who are incarcerated -- this is now under legal review (see above).People who died since the previous tax filing. (Their families may not collect on their behalf and are expected to return the payment.)For more, here's what we know about the major proposals for a second stimulus package. We also have information on unemployment insurance, what you can do if you've lost your job, if you could receive two refund checks from the IRS and what to know about evictions.




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