Because of the Coronavirus Pandemic, the U.S. government has committed to economically help U.S. Citizens and U.S. residents, and it has passed different legislations and agreements to make this possible. Since Last spring, there have been three different Economic Stimulus Payments, and each of them has had different set of rules. In this blog post, I will briefly explain to you how these rules have changed through each Stimulus Payment legislation, and how these changes may affect your situation based on your immigration status in the United States.
CARES Act: First Stimulus Payment
With the first stimulus check from the CARES Act, only those with a Social Security number qualified for a payment. This eligibility requirement could include resident aliens who had a Social Security Number. However, non-resident aliens weren't eligible. Married couples filing joint tax returns were excluded from checks if one spouse didn't have a Social Security number, and dependents in a mixed-status family were also excluded from receiving payment. This resulted in families with mixed immigration status, where one family member filed tax returns with an ITIN, being completely disqualified from receiving stimulus payments. For married couples who filed their tax return separately, only the spouse with the Social Security number qualified for the stimulus payment.
Second Stimulus Payment
For the second stimulus check, some changes were made in the legislation that was approved at the end of December 2020. This time around, Congress opened up the opportunity to married couples who file their taxes jointly where one spouse has a Social Security number and the other spouse doesn't. A couple in a mixed-status household filing jointly would be eligible for a second payment of $600, as would each eligible dependent with a Social Security number. If the couple filed their taxes separately, only the spouse who has a Social Security number would be eligible for this second payment.
This December stimulus bill also made the mixed-status qualification retroactive for the first payments. This means that an eligible family filing a joint tax return can now claim the missing first-round payments of up to $1,200 per couple and $500 for each qualifying dependent on their taxes. These amounts are to be claimed this year 2021, in your U.S. tax return as a Recovery Rebate Credit.
American Rescue Plan Act: Third Stimulus Payment
Nearly a year after the first major stimulus package was passed under the CARES Act, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 was officially signed into law by President Joe Biden.
For the third check, even more changes were made, and the eligibility to receive the stimulus payments was broadened. This time around, nonresident aliens who are in a mixed- status-family, where at least one member has a Social Security number, are likely be eligible for a stimulus payment of $1,400 per individual plus $1,400 per dependent.
So that you have an idea of what a mixed family is, in terms of the IRS, I will list some examples of mixed-status families that would qualify for a stimulus check, where at least one household member has a Social Security number:
- One spouse is a lawful permanent resident with a Social Security number and the other isn't a citizen and doesn't have a Social Security number.
- One spouse is a US citizen with a Social Security number and the other spouse isn't a citizen and doesn't have a Social Security number.
- Neither parent is a US citizen or "lawful permanent resident" with a Social Security number, and a child is a US-born citizen with a Social Security number.
KEY NOTE: To receive any of these payments in most cases, you must file a U.S. tax return!
Didn’t file a Tax Return?
- If you need to file your 2020 tax return: Contact me now to get your tax return filed and submitted to the IRS so that you can get tax compliant and take advantage of these stimulus payments that you have the right to receive!
- If you live abroad and didn’t file U.S. taxes for previous years (2019 and before): You have a wonderful option to get compliant with the Streamlined Procedure package. Once you’re tax compliant, the IRS will send you your payments if you qualify.
- If your worldwide income was lower than the tax filing threshold: You may still need to file a tax return this year (2021) to claim the payments that you missed by claiming the Recovery Rebate Credit.
If you need help filing your taxes this or any other year, contact me for an Initial Consultation to start working on your tax return and claim all the tax credits, refunds, and benefits that you qualify for!