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Stimulus Check Fine Print: This is why you got the payment size you had



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To really understand why your stimulus check payment is what it is, look at the math.

Sarah Tew / CNET

You thought you were one stimulus control for one amount, but you have it for another. Why? The tax authorities may give you a “plus-up payment“for every missing money, there was a calculation error that you must check with us three times $ 1,400 stimulus calculator or, just, you did not really qualify for as much money as you expected. Some rules changed with the third check that could explain the existence of people this time disqualified around. (Here’s how calculate your first and second stimulus controls

In general, the stimulus check law contains a formula that starts with your adjusted gross income and factors in the number of family members you have. We’ll explain how the IRS uses its formula to determine your total stimulus check amount and how it can be the difference between your family getting $ 5,600 or nothing at all. (Here’s more information for that people who do not file a tax return

Plus, here’s everything you need to know about other money that might come your way: the Child discount of $ 3,600 (calculate your payment total), $ 300 extra in unemployment benefits, a $ 600 Incentive Voucher for Californians and debt cancellation of student loansHere’s the latest on one fourth stimulus control

Did the IRS use your 2019 taxes or 2020?

If you have a lot less money than you think you should, the most likely culprit is that the IRS used your 2019 tax information to calculate your third stimulus check instead of your 2020 tax return – which is official expected on May 17thYou can get a IRS tracker tool to see if the agency has received and processed your return (and refund) for 2020.

If the IRS owes you extra money, you are one plus-up payment, which can take into account any change in your AGI and new dependent persons, including a new babyWe strongly recommend that you check out our stimulus check calculator how much you’d expect because the IRS won’t tell you in his stimulus payment tracker






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Stimulus check formula basics

The language of the Incentive Act of March returns the equation the IRS must use to calculate your total. These are the main variables that can be used in the formula:

  • Your AGI, taken from your Federal tax returns for 2019 or 2020 (or the last known information the IRS has on file.)
  • Upper income limits for single taxpayers, heads of household (for example, a single with at least one child) and married couples filing jointly.
  • The number of eligible dependents you claim.
  • Reduction or “phase out” – the amount that your total would decrease for every $ 1,000 you earn above the income limit that would qualify you for the full amount of the check. In other words, the IRS will charge a partial payment if you don’t qualify for the full amount.






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Dependents can multiply your total amount

Dependents of all ages will count towards your stimulus check total at $ 1,400 each, which can increase it, especially if there’s a new dependent you can claim this year. That’s the simple math of multiplying the number of dependents you have by a higher rate for each.

There is one caveat, however. With the previous two incentive checks approved in March 2020 as part of the CARES Act and then in December, it was possible to get a partial payment even if you exceeded the maximum income limit – as you had dependent persons

That’s because the previous formula started with the largest amount you would qualify for (for example, $ 1,400 per single taxpayer or $ 2,800 for joint filers) and added $ 1,400 per eligible dependent. Then it lowered the total possible amount according to your AGI and the phase out rate.

It’s a bit like starting a test with a perfect score of 100 points and subtracting one point for each question you miss, instead of starting with zero points and adding them all up at the end. But in this case, the dependents you mention can start you with a higher value, say 110 points in our class example. So by the time you subtract ‘points’, you can still get more than people who don’t have dependents – even if your AGI is above the maximum limit. The more dependent children you have, the higher your starting value and the higher your ending value.

That’s no longer the case with the third stimulus check, so even if you had 10 dependents, you wouldn’t get any money if you hit the income threshold.

coin measuring spoons

Stimulus control calculations don’t always make immediate sense.

Angela Lang / CNET

Strict stimulus control income goals this time

The third check is intended to targeted incentive payments by setting a firm limit, meaning it would start evaluating your AGI without the mitigating factor of your dependents. If you exceed the limit, it doesn’t matter how many dependents you have. You still don’t qualify for a check.

Stimulus check income limits

Maximum of $ 1,400 per person (based on AGI) Not eligible (based on AGI)

One taxpayer

Less than $ 75,000

$ 80,000 or more

Head of the household

Less than $ 112,500

$ 120,000 or more

Couple filing jointly

Less than $ 150,000

$ 160,000 or more

On the other hand, a family with a large number of family members and an AGI within limits could still receive a large partial payment, as long as they fall below that absolute income threshold. You can experiment with our stimulus calculator for an idea of ​​what you would get.

Phaseout Rate: Why This Matters for Stimulus Controls

Here, too, the phase-out percentage, also known as the reduction percentage, plays a central role. With the third stimulus check, there is a much narrower income window that allows you to receive payment at all.

For example, you qualify for the full amount of $ 1,400 if you earn less than $ 75,000 per year (your AGI as the sole taxpayer). You will receive a partial check for an AGI between $ 75,000 and $ 79,900, not a check for $ 80,000. That’s just $ 5,000 in wiggle room in your income to qualify for a partial check or not. The higher you pass the $ 75,000 AGI, the less money you will get, quickly.

The phase out rate means that for someone in this narrow band, the difference between the first and third check can start between full qualification and barely getting a check. Again, the more dependents you claim, the more money you will receive with a third check.

For more information, polish up stimulus check qualifications, what you need to know report a problem with your stimulus payment and when it is time file a payment track with the IRS


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