Coronavirus stimulus checks

$600 stimulus verification requirements: how do you know if you are qualified?

The first direct payments have already been sent by the IRS but with eligibility rules altering slightly, are you entitled to the second wave of stimulus checks?

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$600 stimulus verification requirements: how do you know if you are qualified?
ERIC BARADAT AFP

A second round of stimulus checks has finally been confirmed with the signing of the bipartisan coronavirus relief and spending package bill, which includes a $600 direct payment for every eligible American. On 29 December the IRS and the Treasury Department announced that the payments had begun, with recipients signed up for direct deposit the first to receive the money.

Although the amount on offer has halved since the first round of stimulus checks was agreed last March, many of the eligibility requirement have remained the same. However there are a few changes that could affect the amount that you receive when the checks finally land.

Who is eligible for the $600 stimulus checks?

As was the case with the first stimulus checks, an individual tax filer will receive the full amount if they earn under $75,000 a year, or less than $150,000 for a couple who file jointly. The figure used in this case is the adjusted gross income (AGI). If you earn over those limits then then amount that you receive decreases up to a certain threshold, at which point you will receive no direct payment. Here’s the full breakdown of the new thresholds.

Single tax filer – You will receive the full amount if your AGI is less than $75,000. Above that figure you are entitled to a decreasing amount, up to a top threshold of $87,000. That figure has been lowered from $99,000, meaning that fewer Americans will be eligible for economic support.

Head of a household – Earners who are the main breadwinner in a household will get the full $600 if their AGI is less than $112,500. Individuals in that situation will receive a proportion of the money if they earn between $112,500 and $124,500, at which point they are no longer eligible. Again, that figure has been lowered (down from $146,000) since the first round of payments.

Married, filing jointly – For married couples who file their taxes jointly, the AGI threshold to receive the full $600 per person is $150,000. Those earning up to $174,000 will get a proportion of the money, at which point they are phased out. During the first round of payments that upper limit was $198,000.

Are dependent children and adults eligible for the stimulus checks?

As well as the adults in the household who are eligible for the payments, families can also claim on behalf of dependents. This time around child dependents will be eligible for the same amount as eligible adults ($600 each), and there is no limit on the number of children who can be claimed as dependents.

However this is specifically for child dependents, not adults, meaning that dependent adults (those aged 17 and above) will not be eligible. In many cases this means that students will not be able to receive stimulus checks currently, although they may be able to claim that money in future if they pay taxes in the new tax year. Further details on the over 13 million adult dependents excluded from the stimulus checks are outlined by the People’s Policy Project.

Eligibility rules differ for ‘noncitizens’

There is some provision for individuals termed by the IRS as noncitizens to receive their stimulus payment, but they must be a part of a ‘mixed-status’ family. This means that the spouse of a US citizen is entitled to the payment, provided that they both have Social Security numbers.

However while this has broadened the eligibility requirements, as with the CARES Act a Social Security number alone is not enough to make you eligible for a stimulus check. Unmarried noncitizens, or their dependents, will not receive the $600 payment.