9 ways a third stimulus payment could bring you more money – CNET

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More stimulus money might be coming your way. Here are all the ways you could see a larger third check.


Sarah Tew/CNET

A third stimulus check, for up to $1,400 per person, is on the table as a part of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus proposal. Biden is urging Congress to pass the new bill, and the House plans to consider the package when members return this Monday. However, some lawmakers would prefer a more targeted stimulus check that would go out to fewer people, which could color negotiations in the days and weeks to come.

While Biden can’t set the laws, he does influence Democratic lawmakers, who have a razor-thin majority in Congress. Biden has said he’s “open to negotiate” some elements, like the final check amount, for the sake of seeking bipartisan agreement. Any changes to the maximum alone could affect whether you get a full or partial payment, or none at all.

If the stimulus check larger than $600 is approved, it would obviously bring your household more money overall. However, a change to the stimulus qualifications or a development in your own life circumstances could also get you and your family more money in a third check than you got in the second stimulus payment. Here’s what could happen. This story was recently updated.

More dependents could be eligible for a payment under Biden’s plan

Who counts as a dependent? That depends on the definition in the next stimulus package. For the first and second checks, a dependent is any child aged 16 or younger, but previous proposals from Democrats seek to expand the definition to include anyone you can claim on your tax returns — such as children over 16 and adults under your care.

If Congress approves the proposed amount — and again, all of this is still in negotiation territory for now — that could bring a family $500 or $600 more per person you support, based on the per-child allowance outlined in the first and second checks, respectively. It isn’t clear if there would be a cap on the number of dependents you could claim in this situation or if new qualifying dependents might quality for more.

It also isn’t clear if the new qualifications would only apply to people excluded in the first two rounds, as a make-up payment, or if each third stimulus check would also come with a fresh injection of cash per dependent.

A quick calculation: If you have 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 have no other changes. Try our third stimulus check for an estimate.

Could you get more money for a child dependent this time?

Biden’s stimulus plan has not yet sketched out how much money would apply to children, but his inclusion of dependents of any age signals that there would be additional money for this group in the next round.

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 specific and very hypothetical 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).

A new dependent might also bring your family a larger payment

If you had or adopted a new child, or if an older relative moves in, or if for whatever reason you gain a dependent since the last check, you may also see $500, $600 or $1,000 more, depending on the amount stipulated in the final bill text. It’s likely the third stimulus check would use the figures from your 2020 taxes.

More mixed-status families could qualify for a check

According to Biden’s stimulus plan, more families who are considered “mixed-status” would be eligible for a stimulus check. The second payment broadened the rules for the first check by making it possible for families where one spouse is a US citizen to be eligible for a check. Biden’s proposal would work with more scenarios; for example, it would potentially provide stimulus check money to a household of US citizen children with noncitizen parents.

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


Sarah Tew/CNET

What to do if your employment status changed this year

If you became unemployed this year or your wages dropped, that could lower your adjusted gross income, which is used to determine your 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’re no longer employed.

If you recently got married, how are you affected?

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 at most the first time around. Married, you could be eligible for up to $2,400 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 would only get you 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.

If you share custody of your child, it could impact your payment

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 between the time you filed your 2019 tax return and your future 2020 return. The third check allowance would be based on your most recent tax filing.

A rule change that involves people who are incarcerated could become 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.

Still unknown: Stimulus check status for undocumented residents

Democrats have proposed that undocumented US residents should be eligible for stimulus relief funds if they pay taxes (through an ITIN number). This provision 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, that would mean this group could potentially get a check for thousands of dollars. For a married couple with two young children who didn’t receive the first check, the third round could possibly yield as much as $3,300 for a married couple receiving the full $2,900 benefit and one dependent for $600.

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