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What is a mixed status household and why is that important for incentive checks?



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With the third payment, more incentive checks could go to more mixed-status citizenship families.

Sarah Tew / CNET

Since the IRS and the Treasury Department started sending the first incentive payments last spring, the federal government made a series of adjustments who is and who is not eligible for a stimulus check, including humans that are locked up. But perhaps the most controversial and confusing change was for mixed citizenship families, who initially faced strict restrictions on qualification, which relaxed somewhat with the second stimulus control. The National Immigration Forum estimates that 16.2 million people in the US live in mixed status families, of which 14.4 million are excluded from payment.

The rules all around that meets the requirement for payment are already confusing and often mean triangulation of recent years your federal tax returns, IRS FAQs on Eligibility and How to Perform Some Calculations. (We have a stimulus check calculator that can help with that last part.)

To help determine eligibility requirements for a mixed-status family, here’s how the IRS defines one, which families were and were not eligible for the first and second check, and how qualifications can change with a possible third stimulus control.

What is a mixed status family for stimulus checks?

The federal government categorizes families whose members have different nationality and immigration classifications as “mixed status.” Keep in mind that a mixed status family wants to be eligible for incentive money if one member must have a Social Security number. A household where every family member has a resident or non-resident alien having an ITIN or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, instead of a Social Security number, would not meet this requirement.

Here are some examples of mixed status families who would qualify for a stimulus check, where at least one household member has a Social Security number:

  • One spouse is a United States citizen with a Social Security number and the other spouse is not a citizen and does not have a Social Security number.
  • One spouse is a “legal permanent resident” with a Social Security number and the other is not a citizen and does not have a Social Security number.
  • Neither parent is a US citizen or “lawful permanent resident” with a Social Security number, and one child is a US-born citizen with a Social Security number.

We have a handy guide with the ways non-residents may and may not be eligible for payments.


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Were mixed status families eligible for the first and second checks? Is the payment retroactive?

At the first incentive check of the CARES Act, only those with a Social Security number were eligible for benefits. This eligibility requirement can also include “resident aliens” with a Social Security number, the IRS said. But “non-resident aliens” were not eligible. Couples filing jointly were excluded from checks if one spouse did not have a Social Security number. For married couples who filed separately, only the spouse with the Social Security number qualified. Dependents in mixed status families were also excluded.

With the second check, Congress opened the requirements (PDF) to married couples filing jointly where one spouse has a Social Security number and the other spouse does not. A married couple in a mixed-status household filing jointly would be eligible for a second payment of $ 600, just like they would any eligible dependent with a social security number. If the couple files separately, only the spouse with a Social Security number is eligible.

December’s Incentive Act also made the mixed status qualifications retroactively for the first payments. Now an eligible family can apply jointly claim missing first round payments of up to $ 1,200 per couple and $ 500 for each eligible dependent on their taxes this year have a Refund discount.

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Mixed status families may qualify for incentive money.

Sarah Tew / CNET

What would a third stimulus check do for mixed status families?

Before being sworn in on January 20, President Joe Biden rolled out his $ 1.9 trillion stimulus package that suggested a third stimulus check in front of $ 1,400 per person. This third round of payments would, according to an outline of the plan (pdf), “extend eligibility to adult dependents who have been excluded from previous rounds of relief and all mixed-status households”.

Biden and his administration did not provide details during the rollout as to who would be involved in the expansion and whether there would be a retroactive payment.

While we wait to hear more, here’s the latest on the timeline for a third stimulus check, and how much money your household could make expect to receive with a payment of $ 1,400.


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