The third stimulus check comes with a $1,400-per-person maximum. To “target” or restrict the third check to lower- and middle-income households, the legislation is likely to include eligibility rules that exclude individuals and families at the highest income levels. An individual with an AGI (adjusted gross income) of at least $80,000 a year would hit the payment cutoff, as would a head of household earning $120,000 and a couple filing jointly with an AGI of $160,000.

However, any dependent a taxpayer claims could qualify for a $1,400 payment. But unlike the first two stimulus payments, people above the hard upper limit wouldn’t be able to get a partial check by having dependents. Here’s how the stimulus check formula would work. If you want to see for yourself, try our stimulus calculator for the third check.


Full $1,400 per person maximum (based on AGI)Not eligible (based on AGI)
Single taxpayerLess than $75,000$80,000 or more
Head of householdLess than $112,500$120,000 or more
Married couple filing jointlyLess than $150,000$160,000 or more

More dependents could get a stimlulus check this time

The new stimulus bill would open the qualifications to roughly 13.5 million more dependents for a third stimulus payment — for $1,400 apiece — than the first two payments did by expanding the definition of a dependent. With the new check, any dependent — child or adult — would count toward a payment. With the first check and the second, Congress included children age 16 and under but excluded dependents 17 and older.

Who would not qualify for check?

With the new upper income limits the Senate agreed to on Saturday, more than 16 million people who would have qualified for the third check under the House plan would be excluded with the Senate bill, according to the the Institute on Taxaxtion and Economic Policy, a left-leaning think tank. There are also several ways you could get less stimulus check money than the total approved by Congress. We explore that here, including changes in your personal life that may have an effect, such as if you got a raise in the past year or if you claim fewer dependents this time around. Here’s who might not qualify for a new stimulus check.

What could delay the third payment?

Outside of Congress, the IRS has a full plate now that we’re in the middle of tax season, with an April 15 deadline for taxpayers to submit their returns. It can take months for the IRS to process the payments, even without being stretched thin because of the ongoing pandemic, a backlog from 2019’s taxes and the job of processing another round of stimulus payments — using a new formula — for more than 100 million households. Here’s what to know about stimulus checks and taxes. Read more below for which tax year the IRS will use for you.

Will the IRS use my 2019 or 2020 taxes to calculate my stimulus payment?

Tax season and the timing of a third stimulus check will most likely overlap. What that means is that the IRS will likely base your total on income from either your 2020 or 2019 tax return, whichever it has on hand when it determines the size of your payment.  If you qualify for the full $1,400 based on your 2020 taxes, but your check was lower because the IRS based it on your 2019 taxes, you’d have to claim the difference when you file in 2022. 

Here’s how your check could be affected if you file for a tax extension, and what would happen if the IRS pushes the tax deadline past April 15.

How long will the IRS have to send my payment?

The IRS and the Department of the Treasury took just days to deliver the second stimulus checks, starting shortly after former President Donald Trump signed December’s stimulus bill. They had no choice: The language of the bill provided only a 17-day window to send the checks. There were millions of direct deposit errors, and now anyone missing stimulus money will have to claim it as part of filing their 2020 taxes. (Yes, even people who don’t otherwise file taxes.)

The IRS would have until Dec. 31, 2021 to automatically send a third check to recipients, with taxpayers and non-filers alike claiming any missing money as a Recovery Rebate Credit or something like it, in 2022. Here are more possible scenarios for the third stimulus check timeline here.

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