8 ways you could get more money with a third stimulus check – CNET

A third stimulus check is more than hypothetical. President-elect Joe Biden went on the record days before being inaugurated into office to confirm multiple times that he wants to bring Americans a stimulus bill worth multiple trillions of dollars and a $2,000 stimulus check.

“$600 is simply not enough when you have to choose between paying rent or putting food on the table. We need $2,000 stimulus checks,” Biden tweeted Sunday, referring to the second stimulus checks that top out at $600 per eligible adult

A $2,000 payment would clearly bring a higher total than a $600 stimulus check, with everything else being equal. But if there are changes, we did some math to estimate how much more stimulus money some people could potentially see compared to the second stimulus check if certain qualifications were to change with the third payment

More people qualify as a dependent

Who is a dependent? Well, that depends on the definition in the future stimulus package. With the first and second checks, a dependent is any child 16 years or younger, but previous proposals from Democrats expanded the definition to include anyone you can claim on your tax returns — such as children over 16 and adults under your care. With Democrats soon to be in control of Congress, there’s a greater chance the definition could change, since it would raise the price tag on the total stimulus bill.

If passed — and again, all of this is a big if — that would bring a family $500 or $600 more per person you support, based on the first and second checks, respectively. It isn’t clear if there would be a cap to the number of dependents you could claim in this situation. 

A quick calculation: If you had one dependent who qualified in the first two rounds and three that qualify in the third, that would get your family $1,000 to $1,200 more if you had no other changes.

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Child dependents count for more money apiece

A White House proposal from October offered to keep the same age restriction for children, but double the payout to $1,000. So in this scenario, if you have one dependent, your third check could be $500 greater than the first check ($500 per child dependent) and $400 larger than the second ($600 per qualified dependent).

You gain another dependent

If you had or adopted a new child, you may see $500, $600 or $1,000 more, depending on the amount stipulated in the next (hypothetical) bill. It’s likely that the third stimulus check would use the figures from your 2020 taxes.

Your employment status changes

If you became unemployed this year or your wages dropped, that could lower your adjusted gross income (AGI), which is used to determine the payment. For example, if you got a partial payment with the first or second check, a third check could bring you a full payment if you were to be no longer employed.


Did you recently get married or have a baby? That could mean more money in a third stimulus payment.

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You get married

Depending on several variables that include your spouse’s filing status and any new dependents, a change in marital status could result in a larger check. For example, if you were single and filing alone, you got $1,200 max the first time around. Married, you could be eligible for $2,400 maximum, since the IRS formula used to determine your total stimulus money is based on your combined household income.

If a third stimulus check arrives for $2,000 per person, your spouse could double it to $4,000. Alternatively, if your personal AGI is such that you would only get a partial stimulus check payment on your own, filing jointly with a spouse with an income under the threshold could qualify you for the whole check total.

You now share custody of a child

If you meet specific qualifications, you and the child’s other parent may both be entitled to claim extra stimulus money. That means you could get an extra $500 or more in the third stimulus check, especially if anything in your situation changed from the time you filed your 2019 tax return to your future 2020 return. The third check allowance would be based on your most recent tax filing.

A rule change concerning incarcerated people becomes permanent

A federal judge has ruled that the IRS owes stimulus checks to inmates in prison who qualify. If the ruling stands, these people may be entitled to a third stimulus check as well as the first two, with more potential money for dependents.

You’re an undocumented immigrant

Democrats have proposed that undocumented US residents should be eligible for stimulus relief funds if they pay taxes (through an ITIN number). This provisions was part of the Heroes Act that passed the House of Representatives in two forms, but which isn’t law. Currently, you need to have a Social Security number to be eligible for a stimulus check.

If a third stimulus check arrives for $2,000, that would mean a potential for $2,000 to $4,000 for this group, with more for dependents. For a married couple with two young children who didn’t receive the first check, the third round could possibly yield as much as $5,000 if the allocations per child were to follow the first stimulus check’s $500 per child allotment.

Here’s everything else you need to know about stimulus checks today, including what to do if your second check didn’t make it before the Jan. 15 deadline and how to contact the IRS about your missing payment.