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Your new stimulus check might be more than $1,400 – do this now to get the full payment

March 5th, 2021 at 3:33 PM
Stimulus check update

Among the stimulus check updates we got this week is a strange but true reminder of how bizarre a place Washington DC really is, and how difficult it is for anything of substance to get done in these most polarizing of times.

This week, President Biden agreed to a compromise in order to ensure passage of his $1.9 trillion stimulus bill in the Senate — namely, that income eligibility requirements should be a bit tighter in order for people to get payments as part of the third wave of stimulus check disbursements in the US. Check out our previous post here for more details about the eligibility compromise, under which single taxpayers earning more than $80,000 now won’t get a stimulus payment at all (nor will married couples who make more than $160,000). But here’s the thing about that compromise.

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In spite of the fact that Democrats control the White House, the Senate, and the House of Representatives, President Biden has let himself get backed into a corner such that a Democrat administration is now going to give people fewer stimulus checks than President Trump’s administration did (and checks for smaller amounts, at that).

That’s because an analysis from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy found that the income eligibility change means around 12 million fewer adults will receive the benefit of a stimulus check this time around. And, as we’ve noted on multiple occasions now, Democratic voters were told repeatedly on the campaign trail that ushering in a President Biden as well as giving Democrats control of the Senate would mean $2,000 stimulus checks would quickly follow (as opposed to the $1,400 checks that people instead are getting).

Be all that as it may, meanwhile, here’s an important fact to know about an action you need to take to ensure you get the biggest stimulus check amount possible.

We’re in the midst of tax filing season right now, with your 2020 return due on April 15 (unless you live in the state of Texas). So what’s that got to do with your stimulus check? Well, if the hellish 12 months of the pandemic last year meant you lost your job or saw your income fall, it’s in your interest to hurry and file your taxes. Because once you do, the IRS will use that as your income basis for the new stimulus checks, whereas if you wait, the IRS would have to use your potentially much better income level in 2019 as the basis to determine your new stimulus check amount.

And if for some reason you had a better year last year than in 2019, it’s in your interest to wait until the IRS starts sending out the new stimulus checks (as long as you don’t wait past April 15). That way, the IRS will use data from the most recent year it has on file for you, 2019, and then you can proceed with filing your 2020 tax return.

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Andy is a reporter in Memphis who also contributes to outlets like Fast Company and The Guardian. When he’s not writing about technology, he can be found hunched protectively over his burgeoning collection of vinyl, as well as nursing his Whovianism and bingeing on a variety of TV shows you probably don’t like.

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