As buzz continues to swirl around a second stimulus check, the eligibility requirements for receiving an additional payment continue to be of interest. Although no concrete qualifications have been revealed, as a plan is not yet in place, the proposals brought to the table – the March-passed CARES Act, the Democratic-backed HEROES Act, and the GOP-backed HEALS Act – have roughly the same qualifications, including how stimulus money is distributed to younger Americans. This has led many to wonder if they qualify as a dependent or as an adult.
Although the general consensus is that at the age of 18 – when you are able to vote, drive, and serve in the military, among other things – one is considered an adult, that same sentiment doesn't hold true in the eyes of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) when it comes to stimulus payments. This means that even at the age of 18, an adult may not qualify for their own, full-amount stimulus payment. Rather, they may instead qualify as a dependent, which credits a $500 under the CARES Act and the proposals that followed.
To be seen as an adult in the eyes of the IRS, and to therefore qualify for your own direct payment, CNET reports that there are two different sets of rules for who counts as an adult or a dependent under current tax law – the support test and the residency test. Under the support test, according to Janet Holtzblatt, a senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, you can still be claimed as a dependent if you are unmarried, don't claim children as your own dependents, your parents provide you with financial support equal to or greater than half of your annual income, and you made less than $4,200 in 2019. The residency test, meanwhile, states that you can be claimed as a dependent, regardless of how much you make, if you are a full-time student under the age of 24 who resides with the adult taxpayer more than half of the year.
There are, however, a few exceptions to these two tests. The outlet reports that those who have been emancipated from their parents either through a court or marriage would likely not qualify as a dependent and would file taxes independently. Those who are 17 and older and have enlisted in the US Armed Forces are also considered emancipated from their parents or legal guardians. People under the age of 24 who are married or have a child of their own they claim as a dependent are also considered independent by the IRS, meaning they would qualify for their own stimulus payment.