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Could You Get a Coronavirus Stimulus Check if Your Income Is Over the Limit?

By Christy Bieber - May 2, 2020 at 9:02AM

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You may not be left out in the cold after all!

If you have a high income, you've probably heard that you aren't getting a coronavirus stimulus check. In fact, most news you'll read indicates that those who are single with incomes above $99,000 will not be getting any money, nor will married couples filing joint returns who make more than $198,000. 

And while these limits do indeed exist, they apply to single people or married couples without children. If you have dependent kids under the age of 17, you could very well be entitled to some money from the government to help you through the coronavirus crisis even if your earnings top these levels. 

A woman opening an envelope full of $100 bills

Image source: Getty Images.

Here's why you could be eligible for a coronavirus stimulus payment with a higher income

The CARES Act provides stimulus payments of $1,200 per adult and $500 per qualifying dependent child. But the amount of the check declines by $5 per every $100 that you earn over $75,000 as a single person or $150,000 as a married couple filing jointly. 

If you do the math, a reduction of $5 per $100 earned above these limits would mean the $1,200 per adult would be reduced down to $0 once your income hits the $99,000 threshold, and the $2,400 check for couples would be reduced to nothing after $198,000 in earnings. 

But this equation forgets to factor in the $500 stimulus payments for children. So, a married couple with $198,000 in earnings would have their own $2,400 payments reduced to $0 but would still be entitled to receive a $500 payment for each child who meets the definition of a dependent. A couple with $198,000 in income could theoretically still get $1,500 in stimulus funds if they have three kids they're supporting. 

The CARES Act doesn't preclude people with incomes above $99,000 or $198,000 from getting checks. In fact, it doesn't mention those specific limits at all. In effect, there's nothing preventing higher-income families from receiving stimulus funds for their children even if their incomes eliminate eligibility for their own payments. 

How can you determine if you'll get a stimulus payment? 

To determine if you'll be eligible for a stimulus payment with a higher income, figure out how many qualifying child dependents you have. To count as a dependent for purposes of stimulus funds, the child must:

  • Be related to you by blood or adoption.
  • Be under the age of 17.
  • Live with you at least half the year.
  • Be claimed as a dependent on your tax return.
  • Receive at least half their financial support from you.
  • Be a U.S. citizen with a valid Social Security number.

For each child, you could potentially get up to $500. But you have to follow the same rules of subtracting $5 for each $100 above the earnings threshold.

If you're married with one child, your potential stimulus check amount would be $2,900 ($1,200 for each spouse and $500 for your child). But if your income is $199,000, you are $49,000 above the $150,000 limit for getting the full amount. You'll need to subtract $5 for each $100 over the limit, or $2,450 total ($490 x $5). Your stimulus check amount would be $450 in this case. 

What do you need to do to get your stimulus money?

In most cases, you don't need to do anything to get your stimulus funds. If you filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return -- as most people with incomes in this range do -- you should get your money direct deposited to the account you gave the IRS for your refund or mailed to your address if your direct deposit info isn't on file.

However, if you did not declare a dependent on your most recent tax return, the IRS may not be aware you have one and thus are entitled to money. This could happen if you just had a baby or adopted a child. In this case, if you haven't yet filed your 2019 return, you'd want to do so ASAP to let the IRS know you have a child now and are eligible for a payment. 

If your child joined your family after 2019, and thus last year's return can't be used to let the IRS know about your dependent, you can still claim your stimulus money. Unfortunately, you'll have to wait to file your 2020 return to do so, which means you'll be waiting a long time to get your hands on the cash. 

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