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Qualifying for a third stimulus check might come down to filing your taxes

If you made less in 2020 than in 2019, you should file ASAP

The SFGate Commerce Team recommends filing with FreeTaxUSA.

The SFGate Commerce Team recommends filing with FreeTaxUSA.

Catherine McQueen

With passage of the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill seemingly imminent, a lot of Americans are eagerly watching their bank accounts, waiting for that $1,400 relief check to come in.

However, this round has slightly different qualifications, and some people who received the last two checks (for $1,200 and $600, respectively) won’t receive this third round. Depending on your 2020 income, you might be able to pocket extra government cash by filing your taxes as soon as possible.

Here's why:

  • Individuals who earned less than $75,000 ($112,500 for heads-of-household and $150,000 for couples) qualify for the full $1,400
  • The amount you receive is phased out up to $80,000/$120,000/$160,000.
  • Your 2021 relief bill qualification depends on your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI)
  • If you haven’t filed 2020 taxes yet, the government will look at your 2019 AGI
  • If you made less money in 2020 than 2019, you should file your taxes as soon as possible

The SFGate Commerce Team recommends filing with FreeTaxUSA, as it costs less than competitors like TurboTax, and for people with simple W-2 returns, it's just as easy.

FreeTaxUSA - FreeTaxUSA

12.95Start Free Return

Who gets the stimulus check

Individuals who made less than $75,000 (according to their tax forms) will receive the full $1,400, assuming the bill passes without significant changes. For heads of household, this number increases to $112,500, and for married couples filing jointly, the limit is $150,000.

Parents receive an additional $1,400 for every dependent child on their tax return.

Who doesn't get the relief check

Individuals who make more than $80,000, heads of household who make more than $120,000, and married couples who make more than $160,000 will not receive any stimulus money. If you fall somewhere in the between the ceiling and floor ($75,000-$80,000 for an individual, for example), you'll receive a pro-rated percentage based on where your exact income. 

Your eligibility is based on your most recent tax return

This is the most important part: The government determines what amount you receive by looking at your most recent tax return. If you are one of the 22 million Americans who lost their jobs and made a fraction of their prior year's income during the pandemic, filing your taxes as soon as possible could mean thousands of extra dollars in your bank account.

Since dependent children qualify for the $1,400 as well, a family of four could be looking at a total of $5,600 in the next few weeks.