CORONAVIRUS STIMULUS CHECKS

Third stimulus check: does child support affect stimulus payments?

The American Rescue Plan is still yet to be passed by Congress but we know that President Biden's proposal looks to put struggling families first.

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Third stimulus check: does child support affect stimulus payments?
MICHAEL REYNOLDS / POOL EFE

Third stimulus check IRS updates today: live.

President Joe Biden made covid-19 response one of the cornerstones of his successful election campaign in 2020, promising to support those who had been worst hit. Economic relief was a key part of that and before even taking office he proposed the $2.2 trillion American Rescue Plan which he hoped would provide a much-needed boost.

Key amongst the inclusions in the package was a third round of stimulus check payments, this time worth up to $1,400 per person. In recent days Biden has made clear that he is not willing to alter the amount, but may be open to negotiation on some other aspects of the bill.

The eligibility requirements have been much-discussed, but the issue of child support payments can also affect your stimulus check entitlement.

How can child support affect the size of your stimulus check?

While some details remained the same through previous rounds of direct payments, the relationship with child support payments has changed dramatically. During the first round of payments anyone who owed child support payments could have their stimulus check entitlement sent to a spouse who they owed child support to.

This was controversial at the time and even led to a series of administrative errors which gave the stimulus check money to the wrong person. Around 50,000 people had their money incorrectly sent to a third party, which the IRS was forced to hastily refund.

For the second round of payments the rules changed and the IRS were no longer able to withhold or redirect stimulus checks to pay child support debts. However this leaves people who are owed child support payments out of pocket, and comes at a time when around eight million children in the United States are living in food poverty.

Who will be prioritised for the third round of stimulus checks: the person in need of child support or the person who is unable to provide it? A decision is yet to be made but the outcome could have huge consequences for millions of families.

Adult dependents could be included in new stimulus checks

Biden’s American Rescue Plan does seem to place a new emphasis on the need to support struggling families and another element of the stimulus check provision could see some thousands of dollars better off.

In previous rounds of payment adult dependents were not eligible to receive a stimulus check. This meant that college students and elderly relatives who are included as dependents on tax filings were excluded.

However that may all change after Biden’s proposal outlined a widening of eligibility that would allow them to receive a stimulus check. Not only that, but there are even plans for a retroactive payment of $600 for the most recent round of stimulus checks to be included. This could mean that adult dependents are entitled to $2,000 stimulus checks when the new bill is passed.

This is not yet confirmed but given Biden’s willingness to pass his stimulus bill without bipartisan consent, it seems likely that much of his proposal will remain intact.