Who qualifies--and who doesn’t--to receive coronavirus stimulus checks

Posted at 12:36 PM, Apr 14, 2020

According to the IRS, 50 to 70 million Americans should have their stimulus check direct deposited in their bank account this week. Another 50 million people may have to wait as late as September to get a paper check.

However, for millions of others, a check from the second stimulus package is never coming.

“One of the largest groups not eligible for a rebate is adult dependents,” said Garrett Watson, with the Tax Foundation. “So, anyone who is claimed on a tax return and is of the age of 17 years or older is not eligible to either get a rebate themselves or have their caregivers get a $500 rebate.”

That includes millions of college student, who are now displaced as campuses around the country closed. It also includes elderly and disabled dependents who rely on caregivers.

“This is a pretty big population, both who may be seeing a pretty large adverse impact as a result of this economic downturn and public health crisis,” added Watson.

The CARES Act covers roughly 80 percent of adult Americans, but the 20 percent it left out included some vulnerable groups. For example, the adult dependents. However, it also left out those who earned more than $99,000 in 2019 but who may have had a dramatic reduction in income or lost their job in 2020. Millions of tax paying immigrants don’t qualify for a stimulus check, and parents with babies born in 2020 won’t get the $500 dependent check for that child.

“In those situations, where a new qualifying child is in the picture this year and was not in the picture last year, you’ll have to wait for that additional $500 payment until next spring. That is probably a worst-case scenario,” said Watson. “There has been some speculation that the IRS could allow taxpayers to claim an additional dependent for this year and get that $500 advanced.”

The IRS is putting out new guidance on stimulus checks and 2019 tax exceptions weekly, and sometimes daily. The Tax Foundation is monitoring to see if a new guidance will be rolled out for parents with newborns.

As for immigrants with an ITIN number and formerly high-income earners, the Tax Foundation explained, they should be eligible for unemployment under the relaxed guidelines passed in the CARES Act.

“I am hopeful that if there is another round of rebates that the adult dependents loophole or issue is resolved,” said Watson. “That is one that can be pretty easy to resolve and necessary to cover individuals like college students in need.”

As a reminder, here is who is eligible for stimulus checks:

$2,400 – Couples earning less than $150,000 a year (couples earning $150,000 - $198,000 will receive a prorated check).

$1,200 – Individuals earning less than $75,000 a year (individuals earning $75,000 - $99,000 will receive a prorated check).

$500 Each dependent child age 16 or under as of Dec. 31, 2019 (for qualifying individuals and couples).

The Senate is expected to reconvene on April 20 and begin discussions for another stimulus package.