COVID-19 continues to impact the United States, the federal government is taking action to ease the burden on taxpayers. Most recently, Congress passed a massive stimulus package. A key feature of the stimulus is individual checks.
You can read my rundown on the basics of the stimulus checks here – along with answers to popular questions. I’ve been updating it regularly as readers submit questions (here’s how to ask). One of the most popular questions is: What happens to kids who have aged out of the child tax credit?
Here’s what we know from the bill: Stimulus checks will be $1,200 per adult – or $2,400 for married couples filing jointly – and an additional $500 per child, subject to income limits.
For purposes of getting the $500 per child, the bill uses the same definition for a child as you’d use for the child tax credit. The sticking point for most parents for this purpose is age: the child must be under age 17 at the end of the tax year. That means you do not get $500 for a child above the age of 16, even if they live with you and eat your food and spend your money and sleep in your house.
And I get that it’s unfair. You don’t have to send me angry emails. I have a child who fits that bill. She got left out of the stimulus plan. It stinks. But if you want to be mad at someone, be mad at Congress.
So if you can’t claim your child, you might think that the child could simply qualify on their own for a check. Unfortunately, that’s not the case for all adult children: dependents are not eligible to receive a separate check. They’re excluded under the language in the bill.
Who qualifies as a dependent? A dependent is a qualifying child or qualifying relative. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) clarifies, at Pub 501, that a qualifying child meets the following criteria:
The child must be your son, daughter, stepchild, foster child, brother, sister, half brother, half sister, stepbrother, stepsister, or a descendant of any of them.
The child must be (a) under age 19 at the end of the year and younger than you (or your spouse if filing jointly), (b) under age 24 at the end of the year, a student, and younger than you (or your spouse if filing jointly), or (c) any age if permanently and totally disabled.
The child must have lived with you for more than half of the year (some exceptions apply, including for school and the military).
The child must not have provided more than half of his or her own support for the year.
The child must not be filing a joint return for the year (unless that joint return is filed only to claim a refund of withheld income tax or estimated tax paid).