Congress passed a second stimulus payment package in December 2020. The new checks are for up to $600 per person and $600 per child under 17. Those who file joint returns will get up to $1,200. The calculator below will display the amount you can expect to get, depending on your income and whether you have children under 17.
Some examples: A family of four earning $140,000 will receive a second stimulus check for $2,400. A single mother who makes $90,000 per year and has one child and will receive $450. A 70-year-old retiree whose only income is Social Security will receive $600.
Last spring and summer, the U.S. Treasury sent out the first stimulus check payments, made possible by the CARES Act, to over 160 million individuals, but fewer people are expected to receive a second stimulus check. Because of the smaller payment and income phaseouts, single people making more than $75,000 and married people more than $150,000 are less likely to receive a check.
Single people who make over $75,000 will have their checks reduced by 5% of the amount over $75,000, and married people who file joint returns will have their checks reduced by 5% of the amount over $150,000. Taxpayers who file as head of household will have their checks reduced by 5% of the amount over $112,500. The $600 that parents receive for each child under 17 is subject to the same reduction.
This means that single people who earned $87,000 or more in adjusted gross income (AGI) in 2019 won't qualify at all for the second stimulus check—compared with $99,000 for the first stimulus check. Couples who earned $174,000 or more in AGI won't get a second stimulus check, down from $198,000 for the second stimulus check. And a family of four that earned $198,000 or more in AGI won't receive a second stimulus check.
Besides high-income earners, the only other individuals who aren't eligible for the stimulus check are those without Social Security numbers (nonresident aliens), those who are claimed as a dependent on someone else's tax return, and possibly those who are incarcerated.
This time, an individual who is married to an immigrant without a Social Security number can get the stimulus check, though the spouse with only an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN) still will not receive a check.
What about children? Parents should get an extra $600 for each child who hasn't reached age 17 (anyone who qualifies for the child tax credit), with no limit on the number of children. Most parents claim their 17-, 18-, and 19-year-olds on their tax return, but these children are counted as "other dependents," and parents will not get an additional $600 for these children in their stimulus check. Despite this, these teenagers will still not be able to collect a stimulus check on their own as long as they are claimed as "other dependents" on their parents' tax return.
What about people who don't pay taxes? There is no requirement that you paid taxes in 2019 or 2020. This means that even those people whose only source of income is Social Security retirement or disability benefits, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or veterans benefits are eligible for the $600 payment. (And for eligibility purposes, the stimulus check won't count as income to SSI or veterans benefits recipients, and won't count as resources unless an SSI recipient has money left over from the check 12 months after receiving it.)
Those who receive monthly Social Security benefits, Railroad Retirement benefits, SSI, or veterans benefits should automatically receive the stimulus check whether they filed tax returns or not. Others who haven't filed tax returns for the 2019 or 2020 tax year may get the stimulus check only if they file a tax return or submit non-filer information with the IRS (more on this to come).
What about people receiving unemployment? Those collecting unemployment benefits are eligible to receive the stimulus payment.
What about individuals who are incarcerated? The IRS holds that people who are in jail or prison for 30 days or more are not eligible for stimulus checks, but the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California has ruled that incarcerated individuals are eligible for the checks. The IRS is appealing this ruling, so whether these individuals will get the second stimulus check is unclear. (The same is true for those who have been institutionalized by court order after being found guilty but insane, not guilty by reason of insanity, or incompetent to stand trial for such an offense; and for those who are in violation of probation or parole for 30 days or more.)
Higher-income earners will get less than $600 per person, and higher-income families will get less than $600 per child.
What number does the IRS look at for income? The IRS uses your income from 2019. The number the IRS will look at is your adjusted gross income, which is your income without 401(k) contributions but before your standard or itemized deductions are taken out. You can find your adjusted gross income on line 8b of your Form 1040 of your 2019 tax return.
How much are checks reduced by? Single people who make over $75,000 will have their checks reduced by $5 for every $100 of income over $75,000, and married people who file joint returns will have their checks reduced by $5 for every $100 of income over $150,000. Taxpayers who file as head of household will have their checks reduced by $5 for every $100 of income over $112,500. The $600 that parents receive for each child is subject to the same reduction.
Can back taxes or child support be taken out of the checks? The stimulus payments are not taxable and are not subject to garnishment by the government for back taxes or student loan defaults. The same is true for past due child support payments or private debts--for the second stimulus check. For the first stimulus check, if your state had reported overdue child support to the Treasury Department, your stimulus check was probably reduced by the amount you owed. (Read our article on child support offsets for more information, including how to find out whether your name is on the Treasury Offset list. In addition, private debt collectors could levy or garnish your first stimulus check; read our article on protecting your stimulus money for more information.)
Can my bank take my stimulus check? If your bank account is overdrawn because of overdrafts or outstanding fees, your bank may take part or all of your stimulus check to bring your account even. Many large banks, however, have stated that they will bring customers' bank balances to zero, temporarily, so that customers can access their stimulus checks. This includes Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, and JPMorgan Chase. Other large national and regional banks are likely to follow suit, though smaller banks and credit unions may not.
For those who have e-filed tax returns with the IRS in the past or otherwise provided the IRS with their direct deposit information, the IRS started to direct-deposit stimulus money in late December and will continue through early January.
Other individuals will receive their payments by mail. The IRS will start mailing some checks by January 6. If you received the first stimulus check by direct deposit, there's no guarantee you'll receive the second check by direct deposit, especially if you filed your tax return after your first stimulus payment and didn't use direct deposit for your tax refund.
For the first stimulus check, the Treasury Department sent some tax return filers an economic impact payment (EIP) debit card. EIP cards were sent to individuals who had not received a tax return by direct deposit in the past and who had their tax returns processed by certain IRS service centers. If you received an EIP card for the first stimulus payment, you should receive a new EIP card for the second stimulus payment. If you receive an EIP card, read the material that comes with it carefully; they come with fees for checking your balance, using a teller for withdrawals, or using an out-of-network ATM.
Those who don't file tax returns, including those who earn little income and recent college graduates, may have to wait until later in 2021 to get their stimulus rebate if they didn't file a tax return for 2019 taxes or submit "non-filer" information to the IRS by November 21, 2020. Married couples with incomes below $24,400 and individuals with incomes under $12,200 fall into this category.
The IRS has brought back its Get My Payment tool so that individuals can check when their stimulus payment went out. Many people are having issues with the second stimulus check; for more information, see our article on what to do if you haven't received your second stimulus check.
Filing a tax return for 2020. If you don't receive government benefits, and you didn't file a tax return for 2019 taxes or submit "non-filer" information to the IRS by November 21, 2020, you may not automatically get a stimulus check. You might need to wait to file a tax return for the 2020 tax year (the initial deadline will be April 15, 2021) and request a "Recovery Rebate Credit." You simply fill in the amount you are owed on line 30 of IRS Form 1040 (the instructions include a worksheet).
What if I've moved? If you moved since filing your last tax return, and you didn't sign up for direct deposit, you may have a long wait for your stimulus check. You can always file a change of address form with the IRS on Form 8822—or if, you haven't filed your 2019 tax return yet, filing your return would also update your address (and potentially your direct deposit information) with the IRS.
The second stimulus payment is actually an advance payment of a refundable credit that will be calculated with your 2020 taxes (the tax return you need to file by April 15, 2021).
If you made too much money in 2019 to get the full stimulus payment, but you end up making less income in 2020 than you did in prior years, you could get a stimulus payment as a rebate in 2021. Luckily, if you make more money in 2020 than you did in 2019, you should not have to pay back part or all of your stimulus payment in 2021.
Updated January 28, 2021