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Who counts as a dependent on incentive checks and why is that the key to more money


When it comes to stimulus controls, it can add up quickly who the IRS considers a dependent.

Sarah Tew / CNET

Guess? If the negotiations are picking up where they left off, and America next COVID-19 emergency contains one second stimulus control, the family members that you count as family members on your taxes could be an important factor in how the IRS could calculate How much money that your household would receive.

For example, a second direct payment could increase the total for dependent children from $ 500 to as much as $ 1,000. Another suggestion points out $ 500 for dependents of any age,

But who the IRS considers tax-time dependent and for incentive checks isn’t always the same definition, leaving some families with smaller incentive checks than their neighbors. Other potential changes in stimulus check qualifications could also turn the tide in the favor of some households, especially those with middle-aged children who are not earning enough money get their own stimulus checkor older adults, such as a parent or grandparent.

And there are some situations where families or parents have dependents wouldn’t get any money at all, including people in situations for child benefit and some complex rules related to some parents and US citizenship.

Keep reading for everything you need to know about incentive payments and dependents, and while you’re here, you can get the top facts everyone should know about stimulus controls. This story is regularly updated.

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What is the IRS’s definition of a dependent?

For tax purposes, a dependent falls into two categories: an eligible child or an eligible family member. They don’t have to be children or directly related to you, but they do have to meet certain IRS requirements.

To claim an eligible child as a dependent on your taxes, the child must be under the age of 19 or be a student under the age of 24 at the end of the calendar year. However, if your child is what the IRS calls “permanently and completely disabled,” you can claim it as a dependent regardless of their age.

To claim an eligible family member, be it a child or adult, as a dependent, they must meet other criteria set by the IRS. This could be an elderly relative who relies on you to provide care. (Read more about what older adults should know about stimulus controls, including those who may be eligible family members.)

Even if a dependent was claimed on your tax return, only a specific definition of “dependent of the child” was eligible count towards the household’s money from the first round of stimulus checks due to the requirements of the CARES law. However, it is likely that some requirements will change if a different bill is passed. More about this below.

How can the definition of a dependent stimulus change?

That is very likely. The first incentive payment under the CARES bipartisan law passed in March and included $ 500 for dependents age 16 and under. According to the Tax Foundation, there was no limit to the number of children who could count as dependents, as long as they were only 16 years old or younger and were claimed by the taxpayer on their tax returns.

As there is yet another stimulus package to be adopted, we do not know exactly how much money would be allocated to dependents. On October 1, the House approved one new, updated version of the Heroes Act That includes $ 500 for dependents, and as of Oct. 10, a White House proposal with $ 1,000 for dependents is under consideration but is disputed on both sides of the aisle. Neither proposal is currently law.

How much extra money can a second incentive check bring your family members?

The short answer is you can use our calculator to estimate how much money you can get with a second check.

The slightly longer answer is that if the definition of a dependent is expanded, you could theoretically add $ 500 for each depending on who you claimed on your last tax return, regardless of age. If the qualification of the Oct. 9 White House proposal yields a final bill, the amount could go up to $ 1,000 per child dependent.

While we haven’t heard of a limit on the number of dependents you can claim for either approach, it is always possible that there is a cap in the final bill. The provision to provide $ 1,000 per dependent child benefits families with younger children. We break the monetary differences between the two approaches here.

Remember, the total amount you can get in a second incentive payment depends on your adjusted gross income, which you can also find on your taxes. View our story on how to calculate how much money you can get with a second check.

Where can you find your family members who are listed on your tax return?

If you filed taxes in 2018 or later, you can find your family members listed on Form 1040, US Individual Income Tax Return. In the center of the first page you will see a box labeled Dependents. There, along with their social security number, family members will be stated their relationship with you and whether they qualify for a child discount or discount for other dependents.


Find your dependent on your 2019 tax form 1040.


What if you have more family members today than you did on your last tax return?

If a child was born or adopted into your family in 2020 and is therefore not listed on your 2019 tax return, you can claim it on your 2020 tax return to receive the $ 500 contingent incentive payment from the CARES Act sometime in 2021. the case also requires a second stimulus check to be approved.

You can also use this tool from the IRS to find out if you can claim a child or another family member if you depend on your taxes.

What if you and your partner share a child and file a separate tax return?

In that case, a child can still only be addressed as dependent on one tax return in a tax year. To find out who should claim the child upon return, see the IRS eligibility information for more than one person.

What happens if you are divorced or legally divorced and share custody of a dependent child?

This is where things get a bit tricky. A child can only be claimed as dependent for one tax year by one taxpayer. Typically, the child counts as the dependent person of the caring parent – the parent with whom the child lived for an extended period of time during the year, even if financial support came from the other parent. However, this is not always the case. Read more from the IRS here.

One case that has surfaced is unmarried parents with joint custody claiming the years in which they claim each dependent child (or children) on their tax returns. In that case, both parents were eligible under the CARES Act to receive $ 500 per child (for a total of $ 1,000 per child between them).

Here’s how it works: If you’re a parent who didn’t claim your child on your 2019 tax return, when you file your 2020 tax return, you may be able to claim up to an additional $ 500 per child on that return, if you qualify for a claim the child as your qualifying dependent for 2020.

Briefly? A parent with 50/50 custody of one or more children who have not received payment of $ 500 per child as part of the incentive package can get that money along with their tax refund after filing taxes for 2020 (in 2021), regardless of whether This may or may not the other parent received that payment for the same children in the first round of checks. Since these payments are essentially tax credits, they don’t have to be refunded to the IRS, even if both unmarried parents get a check for the same kids. (You can read our story on this how incentive controls affect child benefit payments here. And here’s more information from the IRS on more than one person’s eligible child.)

What Happens If Your Dependent Dies?

If a dependent was listed on your last tax return but has since passed away, it’s likely that you still received the extra $ 500 and it would be included in a second incentive payment. However, any payment made to someone who died before receiving it must be returned to the IRS. You also cannot claim a stillborn child as a dependent, according to the IRS.

For more information, see if you may be eligible for a second stimulus check and how fast another payment might come. If you still haven’t gotten a first stimulus check, you can find out how to claim a missing payment and learning how to report your missing check to the IRS.

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