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Second stimulus check: do you count as an adult? The IRS definition


Find out if you are eligible to do a stimulus check yourself or if you are classified as dependent.

Angela Lang / CNET

At 18 you are old enough for it poll, get a driver’s license, join the military, go to college, and get married. However, when Congress did the first round of payments for coronavirus stimuli In March, most young American adults were not entitled to their own check – or no money at all. An estimated 13 million young people aged 17 to 24 claimed as dependents were excluded from qualifying for a stimulus payment.

The recent incentive proposal Passed by the House of Representatives last week (which some call it Heroes Act 2.0) also contains a second stimulus test from up to $ 1,200 to the eligible adultsand add $ 500 for any Person who is claimed to be dependent regardless of age. However, this does not mean that every young adult is qualified to have their own check.

All of this can leave you wondering when it is possible for people under the age of 25 to be eligible for stimulus money either as dependents or for themselves. It’s difficult, but we’re going to round up what happens when you are a student, live alone and have a job, when you are in the military, or when you are married or parents.

We also address how some young adults can retrospectively receive the original stimulus payment of up to $ 1,200. (We have a tool for this help calculate how much incentive money you could getalso.) And here are those The most important thing to know about stimulus checks.

Do you count as dependent or adult? Here are the IRS eligibility requirements

The first stimulus payment was sent out in March CARES Act Up to $ 1,200 for qualified American adults and $ 500 for the Relatives listed on your 2019 tax return – as long as they were 16 years or younger.

To qualify for your own stimulus check, you had to have independently submitted your 2019 taxes, which means that you will not be claimed by anyone other than dependent on their taxes. You had to have one too adjusted gross income of under $ 75,000 to receive the full $ 1,200. (The total decreases as the AGI increases. If you made more than $ 99,000, you were not eligible for a check.)

According to Janet Holtzblatt, Senior Fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, there are two different rules for people who are considered adults or dependents under applicable tax laws.

Look at that:

Next stimulus checks: what to expect


One is the support test. If you are unmarried, have no children as your own dependents, your parents give you financial assistance of at least half of your annual income, and you earned less than $ 4,200 in 2019, your parents can continue to claim you as their dependent. Another is the residency test: if you are a full-time student under the age of 24 who resides with adult taxpayers for more than half the year (unless you live on a college campus), you may be claimed as a dependent no matter how much money you make.

Why young adults were excluded from the first stimulus bill

People aged 17 to 24 were excluded from the CARES Act because the bill was based on a tax code definition of “child”, which states that a “qualified child … has not yet reached the age of 17”. This means that even 17- or 18-year-old students who clearly lived with a parent or legal guardian were excluded as dependents and did not count towards $ 500 towards the family check.

The reason for this age limit is because of the Child Tax Credit, established in 1997, which allows parents to receive a tax refund of up to $ 2,000 for each child under the age of 17 each year they submit. We can only speculate why that definition wasn’t expanded to include young adults, but the reason is likely the added cost of the federal government expanding the credit to more people, Holtzer said.

Can 17 to 24 year olds do a second stimulus check?

It depends. If you became financially independent in 2020 and independently file your 2020 tax return in the spring of 2021, you will receive the first stimulus check of up to $ 1,200 sometime in 2021, Holtzer said. This can also be the case if a second exam is passed. All you have to do is file your tax return for 2020 and meet the regular eligibility criteria for a business stimulus payment.


College students under the age of 24 may continue to be dependent on their parents or guardians.

Angela Lang / CNET

When filing taxes independently, the amount of money you get on a second stimulus payment will depend on your money adjusted gross incomewhich you can also find on your taxes. Check out our story How do you calculate how much money a second check can get?.

However, if a parent or legal guardian claims you are dependent on their taxes, you will not receive your own check. Since another stimulus check was not approved, we do not know exactly how much money is being given to relatives.

Both of those Republican-backed HEALS and the Democratic-backed Heroes Acts Providing stimulus funds to loved ones, including students and adult dependents: US $ 500 per loved one, with no limit on the number of loved ones who could receive this money.

So if you are in that 17-24 age bracket, you are likely to count towards your parent or guardian’s stimulus payment even though you would not see a check paid to you individually.

What if you are claimed to be tax dependent but work or study?

Even if you work full-time or go to college (or both), you are still considered dependent if you pass either the support test mentioned above or the residency test. Basically, if you rely on your parent or guardian for more than half of your financial support, if you earned less than US $ 4,200 in 2019, and / or if you are a full-time student under the age of 24 who lives with a parent or guardian, without doing so, you likely still qualify to be dependent at school.

However, dependents also have to file tax returns. Income for dependents falls into two categories: earned income (money from work) and unearned income (money from investments like the stock market). These filing requirements are based on income. So if a loved one receives earned or unearned income, he or his parents must file a tax return for him.

What if you are an emancipated minor?

If you were emancipated from your parents by court or by marriage (state laws apply in both cases), you probably wouldn’t be considered dependent (provided you provide more than half of your own financial support and don’t live with your parents or legal guardians ) and would file taxes independently. So you would be eligible for your own stimulus check if you met the requirements.

What if you currently serve in the U.S. Forces?

If you are 17 years or older and have enlisted in the U.S. Forces, you are considered emancipated from your parent or guardian and would file taxes independently. Therefore, if you met the requirements, you would be eligible for your own stimulus check.

What if you are married or have a child?

If you are under the age of 24 but are married or have a child of your own who you describe as dependent, you will be considered independent by the IRS. Therefore, if you meet the requirements, you are eligible for your own stimulus testing.

More information can be found here if you are qualified for a second stimulus test and when you might expect a second stimulus check. If you haven’t received an initial stimulus check, you can Track the status of your stimulus check, learn How to report your missing check to the IRS and find possible Reasons why your stimulus check has not yet arrived.

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