A smaller second stimulus check isn’t the only reason another payment could bring you less money than the first check. We’ll take you through everything that could change in the next bill or in your own life. If you’re wondering, here’s who could or could not be eligible for a second check at all. We recently updated this story with new details.
Your second stimulus check could stop at $600 per adult
While some lawmakers are pushing for a $1,200 stimulus check per qualified adult, a smaller overall bill would give qualified adults and their dependents $600 apiece, regardless of the dependent’s age, The Washington Post reported.https://www.myfinance.com/amp/?selector=myfinance-top&subId=prod%7C69d032be-a3ef-4124-ab7a-cd898aa95537%7Camp&mf_referrer=https://www.cnet.com/personal-finance/every-way-your-next-stimulus-check-could-be-smaller-this-time/#amp=1
At that rate, most households would automatically get a smaller check than before. Remember, too, that even if a bill passes with a $1,200 maximum per adult, there may still be reasons you might see less money for your household.
In the meantime, here’s how the new $600 stimulus check proposal could shake out for you and your loved ones.
Stimulus money: $600 versus $1,200 maximum
$600 stimulus check
$1,200 stimulus check
Individual taxpayer, no dependents
Individual taxpayer, 1 qualified dependent
Individual taxpayer, 2 qualified dependents
Married couple, no dependents
Married couple, 1 qualified dependent
Married couple, 2 qualified dependents
If you began a new job or earned more money overall
Your adjusted gross income, or AGI, is a term normally used on the IRS’ yearly tax return to describe your total income, including assets (like stock sales, credits and deductions or an inheritance, for example) that fall outside your usual paycheck. You didn’t get the first stimulus check if your AGI went above a certain income limit, and that would probably be true of any future stimulus payment.
For instance, if you received the full $1,200 per qualified adult with the first stimulus check because your AGI was under the income limit, but then you got a promotion or a new job that pays more (congratulations), your next check could be smaller. Or you may have maxed out the threshold and no longer qualify. All told, this is a “good” problem to have.https://ca37d969659d880f229b7f31b37e928a.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html?n=0
New changes to stimulus rules could affect you
Since the terms of the second stimulus check aren’t finalized yet — and likely won’t be until the president signs a bill into law — it isn’t clear how they may or may not change. There’s also the way the IRS may interpret the law and act or withhold stimulus money. For example, after the CARES Act was signed in March, the IRS first sent people in prison and jail a stimulus check, then asked for it back and stopped issuing new checks. A recent ruling from a federal judge has started them up again.
Age has so far been an important factor in how much stimulus money a household gets, but maybe not the way you think. Older adults are in many cases entitled to a stimulus check. In the first round of direct payments, households were given an extra $500 for each “child dependent.” This is a legal minor who is 16 years old or younger. https://ca37d969659d880f229b7f31b37e928a.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html?n=0
Interestingly, the IRS’ definition of a child dependent for your taxes (23 or under, and financially reliant on the tax filer) isn’t the same one used for stimulus checks.
If the rules change, any older dependents you claimed for the first check will not have aged out of eligibility, which means you could get $600 per dependent. But if they have experienced a life event, for example, starting a new job or becoming a parent, they may qualify as an independent adult, and may be eligible to receive a stimulus check of their own.
This child support situation could apply to you
For the most part, you can use any stimulus check you receive as you like. However, one exception spelled out in the CARES Act from March had to do with child support. If you owe child support to your kid’s other parent, you may have some or all of your stimulus check garnished. If you received an extra $500 for the way you and the other parent filed a dependency claim (it’s complicated), and then changed how you filed in your 2019 tax reserve (for example, if the other parent gained full custody), you may not get the extra $500, or $600 this next time. Here’s more information about child support situations.https://ca37d969659d880f229b7f31b37e928a.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html?n=0
You’ve fallen behind on payments to creditors or private banks
Normally, your stimulus money can’t be garnished to pay rent or federal tax. There are a few exceptions, however, including the child support situation above. If these rules don’t change with the next stimulus bill, then there are two groups — private creditors and banks — who could legitimately seize all or part of your money from the first, and likely a second, check.
Did you move and the IRS doesn’t have your address?
A calculation or other error could cause a smaller check
It happened with the first check and could easily happen with the next. Clerical errors and complex rules might result in your household getting less money in a future second stimulus check than you might be entitled to — for you and your dependents. Or maybe you don’t normally need to file taxes and wind up missing a rare extra step you need to take. Perhaps you moved (see above).
Did someone in your household die since your last tax filing?
Our condolences. If your household received a stimulus check that included a spouse or child dependent who died between your last tax filing and the receipt of the second stimulus check, the IRS is likely to send a smaller sum if your tax filing status, deductions, credits or AGI changed. If the person is recently deceased (by the time the next check arrives), the IRS may ask for the payment to be returned.