coronavirus

Stimulus check: Can I receive more than $1200 if I change my eligibility?

Congress could approve a second round of stimulus checks before next month’s elections. Here is all you need to know about whether you will qualify.

Stimulus check: Can I receive more than $1200 if I change my eligibility?
Marcos Brindicci Reuters

With a new, $1.8 trillion Coronavirus relief proposal on the table, Congress is closer to delivering a second round of stimulus checks to struggling Americans. President Donald Trump is keen to ensure that every tax-paying citizen receives another payment of up to $1,200, but one of the amendments in the latest proposal concerning child dependents would enable some families to receive a larger sum than they might have under the CARES Act. Money would go to all dependents, regardless of their age – unlike the CARES Act scheme where payments of $500 went to children aged 16 or under. So this time around, families who have dependent children or young adults aged 17 or over would be able to receive more money in a second round of payments.

The Inland Revenue Service’s (IRS) definition of a dependent is based on a set of criteria – if you are not married and your parents provide financial support either equal to or greater than half of you annual income (less than $4,200) then you are considered a dependent. Also, if you are a full-time student under the age of 24 living at home (not at University residence) for over half of the year, you can claim as a dependent.

If your personal circumstances have changed since the last round of stimulus checks then you may be eligible for more money this time around. For most people, the amount of money you will receive is determined by your adjusted gross income (AGI) from your 2019 tax return – it is included on tax form 1040. According to the IRS, the AGI is “gross income minus adjustments to income. Gross income includes your wages, dividends, capital gains, business income, retirement distributions as well as other income. Adjustments to Income include such items as Educator expenses, Student loan interest, Alimony payments or contributions to a retirement account. Your AGI will never be more than your Gross Total Income on you return and in some cases may be lower”.

Benefits and stimulus payments

If you are receiving benefits such as Social Security or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), the amount you receive in stimulus payments may also vary. Those who didn’t file a tax return in 2019 will probably need to provide the IRS with personal information like during the first wave of payments.

If you have recently retired, you will be eligible for a second stimulus check but how much you receive will depend on factors such as last year’s tax payments, your pension, AGI and whether you are receiving other benefits. Those who are receiving SSDI will need to access the non-filers tool on the IRS webpage to submit their request for a stimulus check for themselves or a dependent. If you are a U.S. citizen currently living abroad you will also qualify for a stimulus payment – unless you have been included as a dependent on a family member’s tax return. If you filed a tax return during the past two years, the IRS will have your details on record and make a direct deposit into your U.S. bank account. Payments are not made into foreign bank accounts.

Those who might not qualify for a stimulus check

Some people however were not eligible for the first round of CARE Act payments and it is unlikely that they will be eligible this time. They include those who do not have a Social Security number, single tax payers with an AGI greater than $99,000, married couples with an AGI over $198,000 and non-resident aliens.