If a second stimulus check bill is passed any time soon, it may present new eligibility issues affecting some Americans more than last time. The U.S. Congress is still at a stalemate on the badly-needed financial relief bill, though the results of the 2020 presidential election have some hope that they can make progress soon. If so, Americans in need should keep a close eye on the rules to qualify for the next payment.
The coronavirus pandemic is worsening rapidly in the U.S., and the need for more financial aid has never been greater. Many Americans are hopeful that another stimulus package could be coming either during the lame-duck session until the end of this year, or in the beginning of the Biden administration in January. This leaves the bill much more open-ended than before, however, with more compromises on the table than ever. It can be difficult to keep a clear picture in your head of the shifting rules for stimulus eligibility.
In general, President-elect Joe Biden has been supportive of the revised HEROES Act from House Democrats. However, his policy plans also include provisions that are different from theirs or were omitted entirely. That makes it difficult to tell which direction Democrats will take, and how supportive the new president will be.
On top of that, there's the question of which party will have control of the United States Senate, based on the January run-off elections. If the Democrats gain control, they will be well placed to pursue ambitious plans, but if not, Biden has promised to work hard at compromising with Republicans. Here are some things you should keep an eye on while trying to determine if you will be eligible for the next stimulus check.
First up, stimulus checks might be even more fraught for immigrants and their spouses in the second round than they were back in March. The CARES Act prevented people with "nonresident alien" status from receiving a stimulus check, even if they paid taxes to the U.S. government. The main requirement was that they have a Social Security number, so even noncitizens could qualify in some circumstances.
This time around, the Democrats' new plan would extend the eligibility to those with a "taxpayer identification number" as well — a designation by the IRS to keep track of noncitizen taxpayers. This would also smooth the process for spouses of nonresident aliens, who were left out of the stimulus check program in some cases if they filed taxes jointly with their partner. Those issues may be avoided this time around.prevnext
The first stimulus check was exempt from nearly all debt collection, with the exception of overdue child support payments. The Democrats' HEROES Act would change that in its current form, preventing even this money from being taken out of emergency aid funding. However, the Republicans' latest HEALS Act kept this provision in, meaning overdue child support would be garnished from your stimulus check before you received it.prevnext
Stimulus check eligibility is determined by the data from your latest tax filing, and for many Americans, things have changed since then. That often includes otherwise eligible taxpayers passing away, only for their loved ones to receive stimulus checks months later.
The IRS mistakenly sent about 1.1 million stimulus checks to deceased Americans in April, according to a report by CNET, and they are hoping not to repeat that mistake again. However, there could be complications if a spouse has passed away after filing joint taxes with a widow or widower, or if a dependant has passed away. Keep in mind what information the IRS may have on your family structure as the next stimulus check approaches.prevnext
A contentious legal battle broke out in the spring when the IRS argued that inmates in prison and jail were not eligible for stimulus checks. A federal judge in California reportedly forced them to rescind this policy, allowing inmates to file for payments since there was no specific language preventing it in the CARES Act. However, the IRS has appealed this decision, so the eligibility rules could be more specific when the next bill rolls around.prevnext
Ineligible - Single
The simplest reason you might be ineligible for a stimulus check is your adjusted gross income — or, AGI — which was recorded on your most recent tax filing. For a single taxpayer, they will get the full $1,200 stimulus check if their AGI is $75,000 per year or lower.
The check will then decrease by $5 for every additional $100 on their AGI — so, a person who made $75,100 on their last tax filing would get $1,195, a person making $75,200 would get $1,190, and so on. With an AGI of $99,000 or more, there would be no stimulus check.prevnext
Ineligible - Head of Household
A similar structure is in place for taxpayers who file as a "head of household" — meaning, those who do not file taxes jointly, but do claim a dependent. For them, they would get a full stimulus check with an AGI of $112,500 or lower. Once again, the amount decreases incrementally up to an AGI of $146,500.prevnext
Ineligible - Joint Filers
Finally, married couples who both work and who file taxes jointly have their own eligibility system in place, with all the amounts basically doubled from those of a single taxpayer. The couple would get a $2,400 stimulus check if their combined AGI was $150,000 or less. The amount would decrease incrementally from there, and with an AGI of $198,000 or more, there would be no stimulus check at all.prev