personal finance

Many College Students and Other Adult Dependents are Not Eligible to Receive a Stimulus Relief Check

In this March 9, 2020, file photo, a man walks past Low Library on the Columbia University campus in New York.
AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

The IRS is preparing to send most Americans one-time stimulus relief checks in response to the coronavirus pandemic. But the bill excludes many financially vulnerable groups from receiving checks.

Individuals earning up to $75,000 will receive a check for $1,200, while couples earning up to $150,000 will get $2,400. Additionally, parents will receive $500 for each child under 17. That leaves out anyone 18 and older, who can still be claimed as dependents on another person’s tax return. 

In fact, people who can be claimed as a dependent, even if they are not, are not eligible for a payment, Janet Holtzblatt, senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, tells CNBC Make It in an email.

“A taxpayer is allowed to claim a full-time student between the ages of 19 and 24 as a dependent, so the parent will not get $500 for a college student, nor can the college student generally claim $1,200,” says Holtzblatt. The parent will still receive their $1,200 check, if eligible.

Experts predict that coronavirus will have profound impacts on the financial futures of young Americans. Not only are some left out of receiving stimulus relief checks, but young people, ages 16 to 24, will also be disproportionately affected by coronavirus layoffs, according to the Pew Research Center, since nearly half work in service-sector jobs, and make up 24% of workers in higher-risk industries overall.

Other adult dependents will not receive a stimulus check

The dependent distinction, though, doesn’t just leave out college students. Anyone supporting adults with disabilities and elderly dependents also will not qualify for the additional $500 check, according to an analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP).

“There’s no clear policy rationale for this choice, which ignores the struggle of many families with dependents who are not minor children,” reads the the analysis. “The added cost to rectify it would be quite modest.”

The bill also requires recipients to have filed a tax return, which creates a hurdle for many low-income Americans who do not file returns. The CBPP expects the IRS and the Treasury Department to offer guidance for people who have not filed returns soon.

That said, CBPP recommends low income Americans file a tax return as soon as possible, using the IRS’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program for free help with filing.

Nonresident aliens and those without a Social Security number, even if they have children with SSNs, are also not eligible to receive checks.

This story first appeared on CNBC Make It. More from CNBC:

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