This is who might not qualify for a second stimulus check and why

Will you get another stimulus check if one’s approved? Not everyone will.


Sarah Tew/CNET

If you got the first direct payment for up to $1,200 per adult, it’s likely you’ll receive a smaller second stimulus check for $600 maximum per adult (with another $600 per child dependent). Probable, but not guaranteed. The second stimulus check is a major part of a coronavirus stimulus package set to come to a vote Monday before the House of Representatives on its way to becoming law early this week, if all goes according to plan.

The roughly $900 billion bipartisan bill is the culmination of months of negotiations over the size of a second stimulus check, who will be eligible to receive it and a plethora of other funding considerations for COVID-19 relief. Along with the renewal of a $300 weekly unemployment check, the second direct payment is the most visible and sought-after by everyday Americans.

In this next round, the qualifications appear to mostly remain the same, which means that tens of millions of people will get a partial check.

We’ve surveyed the current lay of the land and the first direct payment requirements to give you an idea of who may not qualify for a second stimulus payment. For more information, here’s what we know about a possible third stimulus check in 2021 and why a new Congress cold hold the key. This story was recently updated.

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Next stimulus checks: What to expect

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Individuals who are ‘high earners’ will max out

Your adjusted gross income, or AGI, is the sum of money you earn in one year minus approved deductions. The IRS used your AGI to determine if you qualified for all, some or none of the first $1,200 stimulus check.

Under the CARES Act, you would get the full $1,200 if your AGI cutoff as a single taxpayer was below $75,000 a year. If you made $99,000 per year, you wouldn’t qualify for a stimulus payment as a single adult without children. That figure would include a paycheck or other assets, like stocks, ETFs and bonds.

Also Read: A Beginner’s Guide to Investing

If you make between $75,000 and $95,000, however, you would get a portion of the check, and the same will appears to be true of a second payment. Here’s how to calculate your total from the first $1,200 stimulus check.

Heads of household who hit this income limit

Similar to the single-taxpayer cutoff, heads of households (people who don’t file jointly and who claim a dependent) with an AGI over $146,500 were also excluded from the CARES Act — unless you qualified thanks to a loophole. To get some of the stimulus money, you would need to make less than $146,500. To get the full amount, your AGI would need to be less than $112,500 as the head of household.

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If you make more than the previous cutoff income, you likely won’t qualify for a second check.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Married couples with an AGI that tops this total

If you’re a married couple filing jointly and have an AGI above $198,000, you likely won’t be eligible for a second stimulus payment, unless your children create a situation that appears to be an exception. To get the full payment of $2,400, your joint AGI would need to be less than $150,000. The amount you could receive will decrease if your AGI is between $150,000 and $198,000.

To determine your adjusted gross income, locate your 2019 tax statement. You’ll find your AGI on line 8b of the 2019 1040 federal tax form. If you didn’t file taxes in 2019, locate your 2018 tax document and navigate to line 7.

Kids older than 16 and students under 24 could be excluded again

When the first round of stimulus checks was sent, millions of young Americans were excluded from receiving the payment — with these exceptions. Those who were between the ages of 17 and 24 and who were also claimed as child dependents didn’t get a check of their own due to the tax code definition of a child. So if you’re 17 or older, you’re not considered a child under the CARES Act, even if you still live at home.

Although some lawmakers have pushed to expand the definition of a stimulus check dependent regardless of their age, the most recent White House proposal would keep the CARES Act definition, but increase the amount from $500 to $600 per qualified child.

People with ‘nonresident alien’ status, here’s what we know

If you’re a nonresident alien, you may not be eligible for a second stimulus check. The government defines a nonresident alien as someone who “has not passed the green card test or the substantial presence test.”

Note that you didn’t have to be a US citizen to receive the first stimulus payment. Noncitizens must have a Social Security number and live and work in the US to receive a stimulus check under the CARES Act.

The Democrats’ revised Heroes Act proposal from Oct. 1 wanted to extend stimulus checks to a group of people who aren’t US citizens and pay US taxes, with a taxpayer identification number provided by the IRS.

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Nonresident aliens likely won’t be eligible for a stimulus check.


Angela Lang/CNET

If your spouse is a ‘nonresident alien,’ you may not qualify

The $900 billion stimulus bill currently up for a vote is said to let non-US citizens who have a US citizen spouse and/or child receive a second stimulus check as part of their household, a change from the first payment rules.

With the first check, if you’re married to someone who is considered a nonresident alien, the two of you weren’t able to receive the first stimulus check for yourselves or money for your dependents if you file your taxes jointly — even if the qualifying parent and child are citizens of the US.

In order to receive the first stimulus check, you would both need to have a Social Security number or be a member of the US Armed Forces during the tax year. If you file your taxes separately, the citizen may be eligible for a full or partial stimulus payment. The same goes for US citizens who claim their child dependents (as head of household) on a separate tax return from the noncitizen spouse.

People who owe child support, pay close attention

With the first stimulus check, if you owed child support payments by as much as $150, the government gave the states the right to garnish the amount you needed to pay. For example, if you owed $2,000, your entire stimulus check went to your child’s other parent. If you owed $500, that amount was taken out of your stimulus check.

The next stimulus bill could include the same language, but it currently isn’t clear.

Incarcerated people: How the current law stands

Originally, people in jail and prison were deemed by the IRS to be eligible to receive a stimulus check, and then they were interpreted as ineligible. But a ruling by a federal judge in California allows inmates to file for the first stimulus payment online by Nov. 21, noting that the CARES Act didn’t explicitly ban this group.

The IRS has appealed this decision but has sent paperwork to prisons for inmates. It’s unclear whether incarcerated people will get a second stimulus check, even if they received the first, and it may depend on the wording either in the successful stimulus bill or in the final ruling on the ongoing case.

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Incarcerated people were originally denied a stimulus payment.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Families of people who died since the your last tax return

The IRS “sent almost 1.1 million payments totaling nearly $1.4 billion to deceased individuals,” according to the US Government Accountability Office, before asking for the money back (return process here).

If someone has died since the previous tax filing, the current IRS guidance is that they’re currently not eligible to receive a check and their families can’t keep the money on their behalf — for example, if the deceased filed taxes jointly with a spouse. If by accident a check is addressed to them, the IRS expects the family to return the payment, though they may not be legally required to do so.

It’s unclear if families could collect a second stimulus check on behalf of a person who has died, for instance, as a result of COVID-19. A precedent for this exists, however. Families were able to keep the stimulus checks from the 2008 economic crisis in the event of a death, according to ProPublica and CNBC.

There may also be exceptions, like if the deceased person died in 2020, Janet Holtzblatt, a senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center, said in April. The Bureau of the Fiscal Service has canceled outstanding stimulus payments to anyone who isn’t eligible — including those who died before the checks were received.

If you’re still confused about whether you’ll be eligible for the next stimulus payment, here’s who may qualify for a second stimulus check. Also, you may not get a stimulus check if you move and forget to file a change of address. Plus, here’s when the IRS could send the second check, if approved.

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