The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) entitles most Americans to receive a stimulus check valued at $1,200 for adults and $500 for qualifying dependent children. But not everyone will get this money. In fact, there are three reasons why your check might never come. 

1. You make too much money

The coronavirus checks are available only to Americans who make below a certain income level. Once you reach that threshold, the amount of your stimulus payment declines and eventually eligibility phases out entirely.

1040 form with calculator and pen.

Image source: Getty Images.

The amount you can earn depends on your filing status. The table below shows how much you can earn to get the full payment and the maximum income you can have before you receive no stimulus money at all. 

Filing Status

Maximum Income for a Full Payment

Maximum Income for Any Payment




Head of household



Married filing jointly



Data source:

Once your earnings exceed the maximum limit for a full payment, the amount of your check is reduced by $5 for each $100 in extra funds. So if you made $75,100 as a single filer, the amount of your stimulus payment would be reduced by $5. 

2. You didn't file a 2018 or 2019 tax return

The IRS needs your income information and details on eligible dependents to decide whether you qualify and how large your stimulus payment should be.

They'll be using your 2019 tax return to find out that info, or your 2018 return if you didn't yet file for 2019 (the deadline has been extended to July 15, 2020, so you may not have submitted your forms yet). 

The problem comes if you didn't submit a return for either year. If you receive Social Security benefits or railroad retirement benefits, the IRS will use your earnings statement from those benefits. But if you don't receive them, or if you just started getting them in 2020, then the IRS can't get your details from this source either. 

Under these circumstances, you may not get a check unless you let the IRS know you deserve one. They've set up a simple form for nonfilers, and you should fill it out ASAP to get your money without delay. 

3. Someone claims you as a dependent

Economic stimulus payments are not available if you're claimed as a dependent on someone else's tax return.

This is true even if you are an adult dependent and the person who claimed you is not entitled to get the extra $500 payment due for child dependents. 

Make sure you get your stimulus payment if you can

Coronavirus is causing massive economic disruption across America. If you qualify for a stimulus check, it may help you get through these troubled times. Make sure you let the IRS know if you're eligible for this money so you don't miss out on an influx of cash that you may need.