Here are all the qualifications that could change with a new stimulus check – CNET

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A change to qualifications could bring families more money.


Angela Lang/CNET

If you're having understanding the ins and outs of stimulus check qualifications — especially what could possibly change or stay the same in a second payment, you're not the only one. It's complicated, even for experts, and shifts regularly. To make matters worse, eligibility rules for a second check could actually become even more convoluted depending on the final results of Tuesday's election.  

Another stimulus package could let more groups of people qualify than before and some people could even get more money in the next check. Everything depends on what makes it into the final stimulus package.

We're here to help you sort out what it all could mean, based on a lengthy list of factors that include your yearly incomeage, number of dependentschild support situationtax status, citizenship and the age of people in a household. Some people may even be able to claim a catch-up check from the first round, for missing dependents or if they're in the prison system. Read on for what to know. This story was recently updated.

Read moreNobody can take your stimulus check away, right? Not quite

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<h2>Every qualification change that could come in a new bill<br></h2>The final results for the presidential and congressional elections are still up in the air -- and may be for days -- and could <span class="link" data-track="anchorLink"><a href="https://www.cnet.com/personal-finance/thats-job-one-a-major-hurdle-to-a-stimulus-deal-before-2020-could-go-away/" data-component="linkTracker" data-link-tracker-options="{"action":"link_anchor"}">affect the scope</a></span> of an <span class="link" data-track="anchorLink"><a href="https://www.cnet.com/personal-finance/these-are-the-6-things-holding-up-the-next-stimulus-bill/" data-component="linkTracker" data-link-tracker-options="{"action":"link_anchor"}">another stimulus bill</a></span>. But we can look over the most recent proposals from Republicans and Democrats to get an idea for which requirements could change from the first CARES Act to a second economic assistance bill.

Definition of a dependent: The CARES Act capped eligible dependents as kids age 16 and younger. One proposal this summer expanded the definition to any dependent — child or adult — you could claim on federal taxes. That means families with older kids or older adults at home could potentially see $500 more in their check total per individual.

More money per child dependent: The current White House proposal would keep the definition of a child dependent, but increase the sum per individual to an extra $1,000 on the final household check. Here's how to estimate your total stimulus money and here's the IRS' formula for families.

Stop seizing overdue child support: The Democrats this summer pushed to let a parent who owed child support receive a payment; the original CARES Act allowed the government to redirect payments to cover overdue support.

More clarity on people who are incarcerated: After months of back and forth, the IRS is now sending checks those who are incarcerated and eligible for a payment. A Republican plan this summer would have excluded the payments.

Noncitizens: The CARES made an Social Security number a requirement for a payment. Other proposals would have expanded the eligibility to those with an ITIN instead of a Social Security number because they are classified as a resident or nonresident alien. A Republican plan this summer would have excluded those with an ITIN.

The income limits from the first check could apply to the next

Under the CARES Act, here are the income limits, based on your adjusted gross income for the previous year, that would qualify you for a stimulus check, assuming you met all the other requirements. (More below for people who don't normally file taxes.)

  • You're a single tax filer and earn less than $99,000
  • You file as the head of a household and earn under $146,500
  • You file jointly with a spouse and and earn less than $198,000 combined

Read morePresidential candidate Joe Biden has a stimulus plan for the US

                                <h2><span>Who could qualify for a second stimulus check</span></h2>
                        <div class="chartWrapper">
        <table>
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            <tbody readability="18.5">

                                    <tr readability="2">



                                                                                    <th>
                                                                        <strong>Qualifying group</strong>
                                                                </th>



                                                                                    <td>
                                                                        <strong>Likely to be covered by the final bill</strong>
                                                                </td>
                                                                                                                                    </tr>


                                    <tr readability="3">



                                                                                    <th>
                                                                        Individuals
                                                                </th>



                                                                                    <td>
                                                                        An AGI of less than $99,000 (Same as CARES)
                                                                </td>
                                                                                                                                    </tr>


                                    <tr readability="3">



                                                                                    <th>
                                                                        Head of household
                                                                </th>



                                                                                    <td>
                                                                        An AGI of less than $146,500 (Same as CARES)
                                                                </td>
                                                                                                                                    </tr>


                                    <tr readability="3">



                                                                                    <th>
                                                                        Couple filing jointly
                                                                </th>



                                                                                    <td>
                                                                        An AGI less than $198,000 (Same as CARES)
                                                                </td>
                                                                                                                                    </tr>


                                    <tr readability="2">



                                                                                    <th>
                                                                        Dependents of any age
                                                                </th>



                                                                                    <td>
                                                                        No limit (HEALS proposal; up to 3 in Heroes)
                                                                </td>
                                                                                                                                    </tr>


                                    <tr>



                                                                                    <th>
                                                                        US citizens living abroad
                                                                </th>



                                                                                    <td>
                                                                        Yes, same as CARES
                                                                </td>
                                                                                                                                    </tr>


                                    <tr readability="3">



                                                                                    <th>
                                                                        Citizens of US territories
                                                                </th>



                                                                                    <td>
                                                                        Likely, with payments handled by each territory's tax authority (CARES)
                                                                </td>
                                                                                                                                    </tr>


                                    <tr readability="3">



                                                                                    <th>
                                                                        SSDI and tax nonfilers
                                                                </th>



                                                                                    <td>
                                                                        Likely, but with an extra step to file (more below)
                                                                </td>
                                                                                                                                    </tr>


                                    <tr readability="2">



                                                                                    <th>
                                                                        <strong>Uncertain status</strong>
                                                                </th>



                                                                                    <td>
                                                                        <strong>Could be set by court ruling or bill</strong>
                                                                </td>
                                                                                                                                    </tr>


                                    <tr readability="3">



                                                                                    <th>
                                                                        Incarcerated people
                                                                </th>



                                                                                    <td>
                                                                        Excluded under CARES Act through IRS interpretation, judge overturned
                                                                </td>
                                                                                                                                    </tr>


                                    <tr readability="2">



                                                                                    <th>
                                                                        Undocumented immigrants
                                                                </th>



                                                                                    <td>
                                                                        Qualifying "alien residents" are currently included under CARES
                                                                </td>
                                                                                                                                    </tr>


                                    <tr readability="2">



                                                                                    <th>
                                                                        <strong>Disqualified group</strong>
                                                                </th>



                                                                                    <td>
                                                                        <strong>Unlikely to be covered by the final bill</strong>
                                                                </td>
                                                                                                                                    </tr>


                                    <tr readability="3">



                                                                                    <th>
                                                                        Noncitizens who pay taxes (ITIN)
                                                                </th>



                                                                                    <td>
                                                                        Proposed in Heroes Act, unlikely to pass in Senate
                                                                </td>
                                                                                                                                    </tr>


                                    <tr readability="3">



                                                                                    <th>
                                                                        Spouses, kids of ITIN filers
                                                                </th>



                                                                                    <td>
                                                                        Excluded under CARES Act, more below
                                                                </td>
                                                                                                                                    </tr>


                                    <tr readability="3">



                                                                                    <th>
                                                                        People who owe child support
                                                                </th>



                                                                                    <td>
                                                                        Included in Heroes proposal, but excluded under CARES
                                                                </td>
                                                                                                                                    </tr>

                                                            </tbody>

                                        </table>
    </div>

Even if you don't pay taxes, they play a role in stimulus checks

For most people, taxes and stimulus checks are tightly connected. For example, the most important factor in setting income limits is adjusted gross income, or AGI, which determines how much of the $1,200 for individuals and $2,400 for married couples you could receive if you meet the other requirements.

Our stimulus check calculator can show you how much money you could potentially expect from a second check, based on your most recent tax filing. Read below for your eligibility if you don't typically file taxes.

coins-measuring-spoons
How much stimulus money you could get depends on who you are.


Angela Lang/CNET

Retired or older adults could see other rules and exceptions

Many older adults, including retirees over age 65, received a first stimulus check under the CARES Act, and would likely be eligible for a second one. For older adults and retired people, factors like your tax filingsyour AGI, your pension, if you're part of the SSDI program (more below) and whether the IRS considers you a dependent would likely affect your chances of receiving a second payment. 

If you share custody or owe child support, what happens?

Due to a specific rule, if you and the other parent of your child dependent alternate years claiming your child on your tax return, you may both be entitled to receive $500 more in your first stimulus check, and in the second if that rule doesn't change.

If you owe child support, your stimulus money may be garnished for arrears (the amount you owe).

What to do if you did not file a federal tax return in 2018 or 2019

People who weren't required to file a federal income tax return in 2018 or 2019 may still be eligible to receive the first stimulus check under the CARES Act. If that guideline doesn't change for a second stimulus check, this group would qualify again. Here are reasons you might not have been required to file:

  • You're over 24, you're not claimed as a dependent and your income is less than $12,200.
  • You're married filing jointly and together your income is less than $24,400.
  • You have no income.
  • You receive federal benefits, such as Social Security or Social Security Disability Insurance. See below for more on SSDI.

With the first stimulus check, nonfilers needed to provide the IRS with some information before they could receive their payment. (If you still haven't received a first check even though you were eligible, the IRS has extended its deadline to use its Non-Filers tool through Nov. 21.) The IRS is also reaching out to 9 million Americans who may fall into this category but who haven't requested their payment.

Can you still get a stimulus payment check with SSI and SSDI?

Those who are part of the SSI or SSDI program also qualify for a check under the CARES Act. Recipients wouldn't receive their payments via their Direct Express card, which the government typically uses to distribute federal benefits, but through a non-Direct Express bank account or as a paper check. SSDI recipients also need to use the IRS' Non-Filers tool to request a payment for themselves and dependents.

For more, here's what we know about the major proposals for a second stimulus package. We also have information on unemployment insurance, what you can do if you've lost your job, if you could receive two refund checks from the IRS and what to know about evictions.

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