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The Quickest Way to Get Your Next Stimulus Check

Now that all stimulus payments have been issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), discussion turns to the upcoming third round of checks under the American Rescue Plan. This massive $1.9 trillion rescue package includes direct payments to most Americans expected to start within days of the legislation becoming law–March 11, 2021, when President Joseph Biden signed the bill.

Questions about the amount, who is eligible, and when the stimulus might arrive begin to emerge. The information below will help you know what’s on the horizon and what you will likely need to do to get your money.

Key Takeaways

  • Third-round individual stimulus payments of $1,400 are part of President Biden’s American Rescue Plan signed into law on March 11, 2021.
  • Dependents will also get $1,400, including those over the age of 17.
  • Payments could begin going out within days of the legislation becoming law.
  • Tax season may create problems not experienced with the first two stimulus payments, but there are ways to avoid them—including by filing your 2020 taxes now.
  • If you miss out on getting a stimulus payment, you may have to wait for a Recovery Rebate Credit on your 2021 taxes (filed in 2022).

Will I Get a Third Stimulus Check?

If you are an eligible U.S. citizen or resident alien (who is not eligible to be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return), you will likely receive a stimulus payment. In addition, each of your qualified dependents, regardless of age, would be eligible as well.

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 defines “dependent” as any dependent for income tax purposes. This is a change from previous stimulus payments that stipulated child dependents under 17. The proposed legislation also includes mixed-status families in which at least one family member has a Social Security Number, similar to the way such families were included with the second stimulus payment.

$1,400

The amount income-qualified individual adult taxpayers and each of their dependents will receive under the American Rescue Plan Act 2021.

How Much Will I Get?

The third coronavirus stimulus package calls for individual payments of $1,400 to each qualified adult ($2,800 per married couple) and $1,400 to each dependent.

Single taxpayers will receive the full $1,400 payment with a 2020 adjusted gross income (AGI) of $75,000 or less. Couples, $2,800 with an AGI of $150,000 or less. If you haven’t filed your 2020 taxes by the time checks go out, your stimulus will be based on your 2019 AGI. The amount you receive will phase out and disappear at $80,000 for an individual and $160,000 in the case of a joint return.

After passage by both houses of Congress, President Biden signed the legislation into law on March 11, 2021. Direct payments of $1,400 to individuals are expected to begin within days of the legislation becoming law.

When Will I Get My Money?

With President Biden having signed the legislation on March 11, 2021, payments could begin going out as soon as the week of March 15.

Taking a more conservative approach using the IRS timeline for the second round of stimulus checks as a guide, direct deposit payments could begin as soon as March 22, 2021, for those who received their second stimulus check previously.

Will There Be Income Restrictions?

Yes. Your adjusted gross income (AGI) will be used to determine whether you qualify and if so, how much you will get.

  • If your AGI for 2019 or 2020 is $75,000 ($150,000 for joint returns and surviving spouses), you will get the full amount. For AGIs above those amounts, your payment will be reduced proportionately until it reaches zero at $80,000 and $160,000 respectively.
  • For Heads of Household, the amounts will be $112,500 and $120,000.

What Impact Will Tax Season Have on My Stimulus Payment?

Taxes for 2020 are due May 17, 2021, (extended from the initial April 15, 2021, deadline due to the coronavirus pandemic). The IRS began accepting tax returns on Feb. 12, 2021. This means your third-round stimulus payment could arrive in the middle of tax season. This alone creates questions such as “Do I need to file my 2020 taxes right away?” “Will the IRS accept my 2019 income?” and, of course, “Does this mean stimulus payments will be delayed?”

Due to the winter storms that hit Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana in February 2021, the IRS has delayed the 2020 federal individual and business tax filing deadline for those states until June 15, 2021.

In answer to the first two questions, you don’t need to file your 2020 taxes right away, but depending on your income in 2019 and 2020, you may want to. (See “What should I do now?” below.) The IRS will use the latest year they have on file when your stimulus is processed. This means if all they have is your 2019 return, that’s what they will use; if you earned less in 2020, it could be better for you if that number were used.

While it’s possible that your stimulus check or even tax refund check could be delayed this year, according to the IRS, the additional programming and testing that resulted in the late Feb. 12, 2021, start date for tax season makes that unlikely.

What Should I Do Now?

There are several things you can do now ahead of a third stimulus payment to ensure things go as smoothly as possible.

  • Make sure the IRS has direct deposit information for you so you will be among the first to receive a stimulus payment.
  • If you haven’t filed your 2020 taxes, consider any difference between 2019 and 2020 income. If the IRS uses your 2019 taxes and you receive more than you would have using 2020 taxes, you likely won’t have to pay that money back.
  • Conversely, if you receive a stimulus based on 2019 and actually qualify for more in 2020, you can claim the difference as a Recovery Rebate Credit when you file your 2021 taxes in 2022.
  • If you have a refund coming in 2020 or have make-up prior stimulus credits coming, you may want to file now to get that money.
  • To avoid not receiving your third stimulus and having to claim it as a credit in 2022, even if you don’t normally have to file income taxes, consider doing it this year to make sure you are in the IRS system.

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