Stimulus check: Who counts as a dependent for your taxes and how much money


If you claimed dependents on your 2019 tax return, you should have received $500 per dependent in the first round of stimulus checks.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The rules for who qualified as a dependent for the first stimulus check were confined: Americans with dependents 16 years old and younger received an extra $500 toward their total payment. If White House and Democratic negotiators do agree on another coronavirus relief bill, there’s a good chance dependents could again add to your family’s amount for a second check, with some changes. (Find out how old your dependents need to be to get a stimulus check of their own here.)

But how does Congress define a dependent, what do dependents have to do with your tax return and who could be excluded? This is where things get tricky, but we’re going to break down what you should know and how to find answers.

It’s still unconfirmed who would or wouldn’t be eligible — and it will remain so — until a second stimulus check is approved, either through compromise on another bill, or an executive order. If you have at least one dependent and a new stimulus check happens, it could mean receiving more than $1,000 through check, direct deposit or Economic Impact Payment debit card.

Keep reading for everything you need to know about finding your dependents on your tax return and how that could impact the amount you’d get with a second stimulus payment. (Here’s how to claim $500 for your dependents with an IRS catch-up payment.)

Who counts as a dependent, according to the government?

In terms of tax law, a dependent can fall into two categories: a qualifying child or a qualifying relative. They don’t need to be children, or to be directly related to you, but they do have to meet certain requirements from the IRS. 

To claim a qualifying child as your dependent on your taxes, they must be either younger than 19 years old, or be a student younger than 24 years old at the end of the calendar year. However, if your child is what the IRS calls “permanently and totally disabled,” you can claim them as a dependent no matter their age. 

To claim a qualifying relative, be it a child or an adult, as a dependent, they must meet other criteria from the IRS. This might include an elderly relative who relies on your for care.

Even if a dependent was claimed on your tax return, they may not have been eligible to receive money from the first round of stimulus checks due to the requirements of the CARES Act. However, it’s likely that some requirements will change if another bill is passed.

Where do I find out how many dependents I have listed on my tax return? 

If you filed taxes in 2018 or later, you’ll find your dependents listed on form 1040, US Individual Income Tax Return. In the middle of the first page, you’ll see a box labeled Dependents. Your dependents, along with their social security number, relationship to you, and whether they qualify for a child tax credit or credit for other dependents will be listed there. 


Find your dependent on your 2019 tax form 1040.


How much money could I get for my dependents if a second stimulus payment is approved? 

The first stimulus payment under the bipartisan CARES Act passed in March included $500 for dependents aged 16 and younger. There was no limit to the number of children who could count as dependents, as long as they were 16 or younger and claimed by the taxpayer on their tax return, according to the Tax Foundation. 

Because another stimulus package has yet to be passed, we don’t know exactly how much money would be allotted for dependents. Under the Republican-backed HEALS Act, you’d get $500 per dependent, with no cap on the number of dependents who could receive that money. Under the Democratic-backed Heroes Act, you’d get $1,200 per dependent, for up to three people. Both bills would provide these payments for dependents regardless of age, including college students and adult dependents, including potentially elderly relatives who rely on you for care. 

The amount of money you would get in a second stimulus payment would depend on your adjusted gross income, which you can also find on your taxes. Check out our story on how to calculate how much money you could get in a second check

What if I have more dependents now than I did on my last tax return? 

If a child was born or adopted into your family in 2020 and therefore not listed on your 2019 tax return that you filed this year, you can claim them on…

Read More: Stimulus check: Who counts as a dependent for your taxes and how much money

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