You may be wondering when your economic stimulus payment from Uncle Sam will arrive. For many people, the answer is soon. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) says it has already distributed about 90 million payments, which are valued at more than $242 billion. The maximum for an individual is $1,400; married couples will receive up to $2,800. There’s also an extra $1,400 for each qualifying dependent. You can get an estimate of the amount of your payment by using AARP’s Coronavirus Stimulus Check Calculator.

But for others, the answer to when their economic stimulus check will arrive is never. Some individuals simply don’t qualify for a payment. Are you one of those who will never see a penny from this round of federal relief? Find out.

Reasons you aren’t eligible for a stimulus payment

Your income is too high. A big reason you won’t qualify for a stimulus payment (or economic-impact payment, as the IRS calls it) is that you make too much money. You won’t get a stimulus check if your adjusted gross income (AGI) is greater than:

  • $80,000, if your filing status was single or married and filing separately
  • $120,000 for head of household
  • $160,000, if your filing status was married and filing jointly

Your AGI is based on what’s reported on your 2020 federal tax return or, if you haven’t filed yet, your 2019 return. If you were required to file a tax return in 2019 but didn’t, you’ll need to file a 2020 return to determine your eligibility. (If you are among those who typically aren’t required to file tax returns due to income levels, check more detailed information on how you can claim your stimulus payment.)

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Someone else claims you as a dependent. You also won’t get a stimulus check if you’re claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return and they don’t qualify according to the income limits above. Similarly, if they receive a partial payment, you will, too. The good news: This time around, dependents 17 or older can get stimulus payments.

You don’t have a Social Security number. You’ll need a valid Social Security number to get a stimulus payment. No Social Security number, no payment. This rules out undocumented aliens and aliens who file their taxes with an individual taxpayer identification number. Lawful permanent residents who have a green card, however, are eligible.

The IRS also says you don’t qualify if you’re a nonresident alien. A nonresident alien is an alien — meaning someone who isn’t a U.S. citizen or U.S. national — who hasn’t passed the green card test or the substantial presence test. Nonresident aliens are required to file tax returns if they engage in business in the U.S. or if they have U.S. income on which the tax liability wasn’t met by withholdings.

Because you’re dead. If you’ve received a third-round check for a person who died before Jan. 1, 2021, the IRS says you have to send it back. Send the Treasury check — or your own, if you received the payment via direct deposit — to the IRS service center for your state.

Editor’s Note: This story was updated to reflect the latest information.

John Waggoner covers all things financial for AARP, from budgeting and taxes to retirement planning and Social Security. Previously he was a reporter for Kiplinger’s Personal Finance and USA Today and has written books on investing and the 2008 financial crisis. Waggoner’s USA Today investing column ran in dozens of newspapers for 25 years.


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