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Your stimulus check: who counts as a dependent? Children, adults and what to know


Child Dependents for Incentive Controls and Taxes are not always the same. This is how it works.

Angela Lang / CNET

Millions of Americans have their second stimulus control through direct deposit, paper check and EIP card. The $ 900 billion law that included funding for the second payment stipulates that the IRS must send checks by Jan. 15 – you can follow yours online now, and even follow it all the way to your mailbox. Eligible adults and their qualified dependents will each receive up to $ 600 each combined into one payout in this round. But not every dependent is eligible to receive that money – and none get their own individual check.

Who the government defines as dependent when it comes to stimulus payments is critical to many families waiting for them second stimulus controlas you can potentially add thousands of dollars to your household’s total. Some families could get more money than in the first round, but some people may not be eligible for a second payment all the way. (Here’s how calculate the approximate size of your second stimulus.)

Here’s everything you need to know about stimulus controls and dependents, including which ones dependent children and adults qualify for a payment that adds to the total amount of your household and how age, authority, taxes and other exceptions make a difference. And here’s what we know about a potential third stimulus check this year. This story was recently updated.

Who defines the IRS as a qualified dependent on stimulus controls?

The first incentive payment sent in 2020 included $ 500 for dependents aged 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.

The $ 900 Billion Incentive Bill also defines dependents as those aged 16 and under, excluding those aged 17 and over – including most students and elderly relatives. (This is who counts as one eligible “adult” when it comes to incentive checks.)

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Second stimulus checks: everything you need to know


How much money will this second incentive payment make for each dependent?

A dependent person does not receive their own stimulus check, but can add money to the total of the household. Children 16 and younger that you claimed on your last tax return would add a flat rate of $ 600 to the total check. That’s $ 100 more per dependent than in the first round of payments.

The second stimulus check holds on to who to claim, but cuts the total amount per adult in half, which can reduce the total amount your household will bring in with this next payment. We Here are some examples calculated per household.

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.

How does the definition of a dependent for incentive payments differ from your taxes?

In terms of federal tax regulations, a dependent can fall 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 must meet certain requirements set by the IRS.

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 – a child or an adult – as a dependent, they must meet other IRS criteria. 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 controls due to the requirements of the CARES Act. The same goes for the second round under the $ 900 Billion Act: The dependent child must be 16 or younger as of your 2019 tax return to be eligible for any payment.


Find your dependent on your 2019 tax form 1040.


Where are your family members listed on your federal 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, relatives, together with their social security number, will state the relationship with you and whether they qualify for a child discount or discount for other dependent persons.

Do you now have more dependents than on your last tax return?

Was a child born or adopted in your family in 2020 and is it therefore not on your 2019 tax return? Then you can claim them on your 2020 tax return to $ 500 dependent incentive payment of the CARES Act or the $ 600 payment of the new bill sometime in 2021.

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 spouse share custody of a child, but each files tax returns separately?

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 Eligible Child Information for more than one person.

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

Things can get confusing here. 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 at the initial check is unmarried parents with joint custody who claim the years in which they claim each dependent child (or children) on their tax return. 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 if you are dependent on a person of any age who is considered disabled?

This is an area where qualifications for incentive controls and taxation differ. If you have a child defined by the tax authorities as “permanently and completely disabled”, they can still be considered a child dependent on your tax return regardless of their age. The IRS says your child falls under this category if both of the following apply:

  • “They cannot engage in any substantial profitable activity because of any physical or mental condition.”
  • “A doctor determines that the condition has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year without interruption or could lead to death.”

However, children who are disabled and aged 17 or older are not eligible for the $ 600 assigned to dependent children unless they were 16 or younger on your 2019 tax return.

What if your dependent child has died?

If on the first check, a dependent who was on your last tax return has since passed away, it’s likely that you still received the extra $ 500 and it would be included in a second incentive payment. The same probably applies to the second check. 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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