The CARES Act stimulus check has already come and gone for many. With Washington stalled on the next potential coronavirus relief package, it could be the only for Americans that will have a long wait for another economic impact payment to come to fruition. The one-time EIPs included in the CARES Act began hitting qualifying Americans' bank accounts in mid-April, but many young people did not qualify thanks to how the law was written. That led many to wonder how young you can be to get your own stimulus check. Basically, age isn't the question, but whether or not you can be considered a dependent and whether or not you file taxes on your own.
Dependent children under 17 years old qualified for a $500 payment, added to the payments sent to the taxpayers who claimed them. Unfortunately, young Americans aged 17 to 24 did not qualify for their own stimulus checks if they were still listed as dependents on their parent or guardian's tax return. An estimated 13 million Americans fell into this category, which caused plenty of disappointment and frustration. As CNET points out, "child" was defined based on the tax-code definition of a child, which is anyone who has not reached 17. This means even older high school students did not qualify. This is all thanks to the 1997 child tax credit, which allows parents to get up to a $2,000 tax refund for any child under 17 for each year they file.
The eligible adults who could receive full stimulus payments from the CARES Act are those who filed federal tax returns for 2018 or 2019 and have an adjusted gross income (AGI) under $75,000. If your AGI is between $75,000 and $99,000, the amount decreased. If you earned over $99,000, you did not qualify for a stimulus check.
To qualify as an "adult" under the current tax law, there is a support test and a residency test, Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center senior fellow Janet Holtzblatt told CNET. Your parents can still claim you as a dependent if you are unmarried, they provide you with financial support that makes up or is more than half your income and you made under $4,200 in 2019. If you are a full-time student who is under 24 and lives with an adult taxpayer more than half of the year, you can also be claimed as a dependant.
So could a young adult actually get their own stimulus check at all? It all depends on a person's individual situation. If you can file taxes independently for 2020 and another stimulus check program becomes law in 2021, then you will be eligible for your own check. If you can still be a dependent for 2020 though, you will not get your own check.
The next issue is whether or not there will even be another stimulus check and how dependents will be handled. Both the HEALS Act (proposed by Senator Mitch McConnell in July) and HEROES Act (passed by the House in May) did include money for dependents. The HEALS Act provided $500 for dependents of any age, fixing the issue of 17 to 24-year-olds being left out. The HEROES Act included $1,200 per dependent, but for only up to three dependents. Neither of these programs is close to becoming law. On Thursday, the Senate failed to pass a small $500 billion stimulus package, which did not include a stimulus check at all.