It was clear from the very first stimulus payment that people you consider a dependent may not fit the definition used for— or even on . A more restrictive rule written governing the first two stimulus checks meant no people over the age of 16 who are supported by their family would count toward the household total — a benefit for young families but a disadvantage for people who support older teens, college students, , and older or adult children with disabilities that would preclude independent living. The could change this situation, and then some.
President Joe Biden’soffers two ways families with dependents may get a larger slice of the stimulus pie, . In fact, there may be multiple ways dependents could bring more money in a . Of course, Congress needs to agree on a new bill, and the may depend heavily on the outcome of a .
We’ll go over the new details and bring you up to speed on thefor you and your child dependents — including how to when you , and who . This story was recently updated with new information.
Who is a qualified dependent for first and second stimulus checks?
The first stimulus payment sent out in 2020 included $500 for dependents aged 16 and younger, which were claimed in the previous round of income taxes (or other paperwork,). There was no limit to the number of children who could count as dependents, as long as they were 16 or younger.
Thepassed in December also defines dependents as those age 16 and younger, leaving out those age 17 and older — including most college students and . Each dependent counted toward a flat rate of $600 in the family total, with no cap on the number of child dependents claimed. Here’s who counts as an .
Could the third check redefine a qualified dependent?
The House of Representatives is now expected to begin the process ofnext week.
How else could the next stimulus check change a rule about dependents?
In addition to opening up the definition of a dependent to all ages, Biden’s $1,400 stimulus check proposal also seeks to. This could potentially mean that families with noncitizen parents but citizen children (who were born in the US, for example) would be eligible for stimulus money.
The second check made it possible for families with one citizen parent to receive a payment, and the first stimulus check blocked all families with one noncitizen spouse if they filed jointly, even if they claimed a US citizen dependent. The same restriction applied to a noncitizen head of household who claimed a US citizen child as part of the previous tax return.
How much money could my qualified dependents get with each stimulus payment?
A dependent doesn’t receive their own stimulus check, but they can add funds to the household’s total. Children 16 years and younger who you claimed in your last tax filing added a flat rate of $600 to the household’s second check. That’s $100 more per dependent than in the first round of payments. The total amount of money allocated in any of the three stimulus payments would depend on your , which you can also find on your taxes.
It isn’t clear howfor each dependent. Biden’s proposal doesn’t suggest a total, so it would be up to negotiators of the bill to agree on the financial terms.
What is the difference between who counts as a dependent on your taxes vs. for stimulus payments?
In terms of federal tax regulations, a dependent can fall into two categories: a qualifying child or a qualifying relative. They don’t need to be children, or directly related to you, but they do have to meet certain requirements set out by the IRS.
To claim a qualifying child as a dependent on your taxes, they must be either younger than 19 years old, or be a student younger than 24 years old at the end of the calendar year. If, however, your child is what the IRS calls “permanently and totally disabled,” you can claim them as a dependent no matter their age.
To claim a qualifying relative — either a child or an adult — as a dependent, they must meet other IRS criteria. This might include an elderly relative who relies on you for care. (Find out more about , including those who may be qualifying relative dependents.)
Even if a dependent was claimed on your tax return, only a specific definition of “child dependent” was eligible tofrom the first round of stimulus checks due to the requirements of the . The same is true for the second round under the $900 billion law: The child dependent must be age 16 or under as of your 2019 tax return to qualify for any payment.
Where can you find your dependents listed on your federal tax return?
If you filed taxes in 2018 or later, you’ll find your dependents listed on form 1040, US Individual Income Tax Return. In the middle of the first page, you’ll see a box labeled Dependents. Dependents, along with their social security number, relationship to you and whether they qualify for a child tax credit or credit for other dependents, will be listed there.
What happens if you have more dependents now than you did on your last tax return?
If a child was born or adopted into your family in 2020 and therefore not listed on your 2019 tax return, you canto get the from the CARES Act or the $600 payment from the new bill sometime in 2021.
You can also find out if you can claim a child or another relative as your dependent on your taxes with this tool from the IRS.
What if you and your spouse share custody of a child, but you file taxes separately?
In this case, a child can still only be claimed as a dependent on one return in a tax year. To find out who should claim the child on their return, check out the IRS information on Qualifying Child of More Than One Person.
What if you’re divorced or legally separated and split custody of a dependent?
Here’s where things can get confusing. A child can only be claimed as a dependent by one taxpayer for a tax year. Typically, the child counts as the dependent of the custodial parent — the parent who the child lived with for the longer period of time during the year, even if financial support came from the other parent. However, this isn’t always the case. Find out more from the IRS here.
One case that has cropped up with the first check has been non-married parents with joint custody who alternate years in which they claim each dependent child (or children) on their tax returns. In that case,(for a total of $1,000 per child between them both).
Here’s how that works: If you are a parent who did not claim your child on your 2019 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 to claim the child as your qualifying dependent for 2020.
Bottom line? A parent with 50/50 custody of one or more children who did not receive a $500 payment per child as part of the stimulus package can get that money along with their tax refund after filing 2020 taxes (in 2021), regardless of whether or not the other parent received that payment for the same children in the first round of checks. Because these payments are essentially tax credits, they do not have to be repaid to the IRS, even if both unmarried parents end up with a check for the same children. (You can read our story about more information from the IRS about the qualifying child of more than one person.). And here’s
What if your dependent is a person of any age who is considered disabled?
This is one area where the qualifications diverge for stimulus checks and taxes. If you have a child who the IRS defines as “permanently and totally disabled,” they can still count as 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 can’t engage in any substantial gainful activity because of a physical or mental condition.”
- “A doctor determines the condition has lasted or can be expected to last continuously for at least a year or can lead to death.”
The rule is different for stimulus checks. Children who are disabled and aged 17 years or older, however, are not eligible for the $600 allotted to child dependents, unless they were aged 16 or younger on your 2019 tax return.
What if your child dependent passed away?
With the first check, if a dependent who was listed on your last tax return has since died, it’s likely that you were still sent the extra $500, and that they would be included in a second stimulus payment. The same is likely true for the second check. However, a payment made to someone who died before they received it should be returned to the IRS. You also cannot claim a stillborn child as a dependent, according to the IRS.
For more, check out what we know so far about a. If you still haven’t gotten your first or second check, you can find out and learn .