Will your AGI for stimulus checks change with 2020 taxes? Here’s what you should know – CNET

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Your AGI is crucial to your second stimulus check. We’ll show you where to find it on your taxes.


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The federal tax return season officially opens in a few weeks, and this year your tax returns could play a critical roll in recovering any stimulus money the IRS owes you from the first and second stimulus checks as well as potentially affect a third payment, if and when Congress approves one.

The key to all of this — for your taxes and your past and future stimulus check totals — is your adjusted gross income, or AGI. We can help you understand what your AGI is, how to find it and how it figures into your second and possibly third stimulus check payments. (Your AGI also helps determine how much you might owe or be owed in taxes, and how much you’re eligible to receive with the child tax credit.) You want to keep other details in mind too, such as what happens if you receive SSI or SSDI, or if you’re a nonfiler

CNET also has explanations for what happens to your stimulus payment if you’re an older adult, if you have dependents, if you’re a young adult or if you pay or receive child support. If your first or second check has not arrived, you will likely have to claim it as a Recovery Rebate Credit on your taxes this year, or, in certain cases, contact the IRS to track down your missing money

What is your AGI, and what does it mean for your stimulus check?

Your AGI, or adjusted gross income, is the amount calculated from your total income the IRS uses to determine how much the government can tax you. Your gross income is the sum of all the money you earn in a year, including wages, dividends, alimony, capital gains, interest income, royalties, rental income and retirement distributions. 

After you subtract allowable deductions from your gross income (such as student loan interest, alimony payments or retirement contributions), the result is your AGI, or taxable income, which is used to calculate your income tax. Your AGI is reported on IRS tax form 1040, which you can find on line 11 on this year’s form.

Since it’s a rough estimate of how much money you’re bringing in after deductions from all your streams of income, the IRS used your AGI to calculate how much of the first stimulus check of up to $1,200 you could get. The second stimulus check also uses your AGI to determine who gets up to $600 apiece, too. President Joe Biden has proposed a $1,400 payment for the third stimulus check, so knowing the IRS’ calculation formula can help there as well.


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Second stimulus checks: Everything you need to know

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How can your AGI help figure out how much money you’ll get with a stimulus payment?

The amount of money the IRS owes for the second stimulus check depends on your AGI, your filing status (single versus joint) and how many dependents you have. You can check out our story on how to calculate how much money you should get from a second stimulus check for some examples of how it will break down for you, depending on your situation. 

As long as you meet the other stimulus check qualifications, single taxpayers with a Social Security number and an AGI under $75,000 are set to receive the full amount of $600. As your AGI goes up, the amount you’re eligible for decreases. If your AGI is $87,000 or above, as a single taxpayer you will no longer be eligible for the stimulus check (this is down from a $99,000 cutoff for the first check).

If you’re filing as head of a household (that means you claim at least one child dependent), you’d get the full $600 check if your AGI is $112,500 or less. And if you’re a married couple filing jointly without children and your AGI is below $150,000, you’d get a $1,200 payment. That amount would decrease until you hit $174,000 (that figure was $198,000 in the first check). 

How could my AGI change in my 2020 taxes and how that could affect a third stimulus check

Since your AGI is calculated from all your sources of income for the year, it can fluctuate based on a wide range of factors, including if you got a raise or lost a job; if you sold a house, got a bonus or received an inheritance; or if you lost or gained money on the stock market. 

It isn’t clear if your income eligibility for a third stimulus check would be based on your 2019 taxes (as with the second check) or on your 2019 or 2020 taxes, whichever was most recently filed. The IRS used the most recently filed tax return to distribute the first stimulus check (either 2018 or 2019), so there’s a precedent there.

How can you find your AGI if you filed your taxes in 2019?

If you filed your 2019 federal tax return, pull out your printed records or PDF. If you used tax-filing software like TurboTax or H&R Block, you should be able to log in to those accounts to find a copy of your return. 

You’ll find your AGI on line 8b of the 2019 1040 federal tax form. 

How can you figure out your AGI if you did not file taxes in 2019?

If you didn’t file federal taxes in 2019, you can find your AGI on your 2018 federal tax return. On the 2018 1040 federal tax form, it’s on line 7. It’s on line 11 on the 2020 form.

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An IRS 1040 Individual Income Tax form for the 2018 tax year. You’ll find your AGI on line 7.


Daniel Acker/Bloomberg/Getty Images

What if you can’t find your federal tax return?

If you just can’t find your tax return, you can find your AGI in two ways:

Method 1: Go to the IRS’ Get Transcript portal and choose Get Transcript Online. You’ll need your Social Security number, date of birth, filing status and mailing address from your latest tax return. You’ll also need access to your email; your personal account number from a credit card, mortgage, home equity loan, home equity line of credit or car loan; and a mobile phone with your name on the account. Once your identity is verified, select the Tax Return Transcript and use only the Adjusted Gross Income line entry. You’ll be able to view or print your information here. 

Method 2: If you don’t have internet access or the necessary identity verification documents, you can use the Get Transcript portal and choose Get Transcript by Mail, or call 1-800-908-9946 to request a Tax Return Transcript. It takes about five to 10 days to be delivered to you. 

Does your AGI impact your dependents?

If your AGI makes you eligible for a stimulus check and you claim dependents on your taxes, you can expect your final stimulus payment to include $600 for each of your qualified child dependents, who are unable to claim a stimulus check for themselves. There is no cap on the number of dependents you can claim under 17 years old. 

For more information, find out the most important stimulus check facts to know now and what’s happening with a third stimulus check so far