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Yes, even if there is an incentive payment of $ 1,200, you can still get a smaller check


If a second check goes through, you may not get the full $ 1,200 per adult.

Angela Lang / CNET

The clock is ticking for Congress pass on another economic aid package before the holiday. The bad news is there is no guarantee that one second stimulus control would be added. But even if Congress approves another direct payment like part of a COVID-19 account, it is not clear that you would receive the same amount as the first time.

For starters, a new White House plan promoted this week by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin would include a second check of up to $ 600 a month. eligible adult and child. That’s half of the $ 1,200 the federal government sent earlier this year, and it would be at the expense of the federal government unemployment benefits. So if that happened, your check would probably be smaller.

But even if there is one $ 1,200 direct payment this year or in 2021 (a growing group of legislators is urge Congress to send another check for $ 1,200 now), your household may still receive less than last time – or nothing. A piece of potentially good news: If another incentive payment is funded, the first wave of stimulus payments could come quick.

We’ll explain more below. This story is updated often.

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The first thing to know

In the first round of stimulus controls aired from March, the IRS, for the most part, used your most recent 2019 or 2018 federal tax return when calculating your total payment (people who do not normally file tax returns were also eligible in many cases). But some people who were eligible for a check went through personal or financial changes after filing that could affect a future payment in one way or another.

What happens when you start a new job or earn more money?

Your adjusted gross income, or AGI, is a term normally used for the IRS’s annual tax return to describe your total income, including assets (such as stock sales, credits and deductions or an inheritance, for example) that are beyond your usual salary. The first stimulus check, and most likely the second, will cut you off if your AGI goes above a certain income limit.

There is a direct correlation between them your tax status and incentive checks, and any change to your AGI can increase or decrease the size of your check.

For example, if you received the full $ 1,200 per qualified adult on the first stimulus check because your AGI was below the income limit, but when you got a promotion or a new job that pays more (congratulations), your check may be smaller next time – as the IRS pays out on a sliding scale. Or maybe you have crossed the threshold and no longer qualify. All things considered, this is a “good” problem to have.


Kids grow up and you could cost $ 500 per child.

Sarah Tew / CNET

Did you have more dependent children when the first check went?

Age is an important factor in how much stimulation money a household receives, but perhaps not in the way you think. In many cases, the elderly are entitled to a stimulus check. In the first round of direct payments, households were awarded an additional $ 500 for each “dependent child.” This is a legal minor who is 16 years of age or younger.

Interestingly, the IRS definition of a child dependent for your taxes (23 years or younger, and financially dependent on the tax bearer) is not the same set of terms used for incentive controls.

If the rules stay the same (and there is an indication that they may not be), older dependents you claimed for the first check may be outdated, meaning you can get $ 500 less.

Do you now claim your family members differently or do you owe child benefit?

For the most part, you can use any stimulus check you receive as you see fit. However, one exception is set forth in the CARES Act of March had to do with child support. If you owe child support to your child’s other parent, your stimulus check may be garnished in whole or in part. If you received an additional $ 500 for the way you and the other parent filed a dependency claim (it’s complicated), and then changed how you filed your 2019 tax reserve (for example, if the other parent was given full custody) , you shouldn’t do that. get the extra $ 500. Here it is more information about child support situations.

Are you behind with payments to private banks or creditors?

Normally, your incentive money cannot be garnished to pay rent or federal taxes. However, there are a few exceptions, including the above child support situation. If these rules don’t change on the next incentive account, there are two groups: private creditors and banks – who could legitimately seize some or all of your money from the first, and probably the second, check.


A few entities may seize your incentive money.

Sarah Tew / CNET

Could a new change in stimulus rules affect you?

Because the conditions of the second stimulus check has not yet been completed – and probably not until the president signs a bill – it is not clear how they can or cannot change. There is also the way the IRS can interpret the law and act or withhold incentive money. For example, after the CARES Act was signed in March, the IRS sent first people in prison and prison have a stimulus check, then asked for it and stopped issuing new checks. A recent ruling by a federal judge has put them back in motion.

Like this law, and others related to citizenship in the US, US territories or abroad, would change, someone who was eligible for the first payment may be disqualified from a second check.

Have you moved and does the IRS have your new address?

If you have moved as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and you have not moved a change of address form filed with the USPS or IRS (a good step to take), the agency may not know where to send a paper check or EIP card. If you received your first direct deposit stimulus delivery, the IRS will likely go that way again. If you have changed your bank account, you can get caught in a robbery or must contact the IRS to file a new claim.

You may have to file a claim for a catch-up if the IRS made a mistake

It happened with the first check and could easily happen with the following. Written mistakes and complex rules can result in your household getting less money on a future second stimulus check than you might be entitled to – for you and your family members. Or maybe you don’t normally have to file a tax and are missing a rare extra step to take. You may have moved (see above).

Whatever the reason, if a problem prevents you from receiving some or all of your incentive money, you should be able to claim a rebate. The IRS is currently searching these omissions of stimulus payments now for a wide variety of groups and will likely do this again if a second check is coming.

Has anyone in your household died since your last tax return?

Our sincere condolences. If your household received an incentive check with a spouse or dependent child who died between your last tax return and the receipt of the second stimulus check, the IRS will likely send a smaller amount if your tax return status, deductions, credits, or AGI changes. If the person has recently passed away (by the time the next check arrives), the IRS will ask for the payment to be refunded.

To learn more about incentives, read what President-elect Joe Biden could do if another incentive account is canceled by the time he becomes president on January 20, and everything you need to know about stimulus controls.

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