What to know about the Third Stimulus Checks
(and how it’s similar and different from the first and second stimulus checks)

By Christine Tran, 2021 Get It Back Campaign Intern

Last updated 11/12/2021

Congress approved three rounds of stimulus checks for continued COVID relief. Learn more about the first stimulus check, second stimulus check, and third stimulus check.

In 2022, you can visit GetYourRefund.org to claim any stimulus checks you haven’t gotten. You will need to file a 2020 tax return to get the first and second stimulus checks and a 2021 tax return to get the third stimulus check.

On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act, which includes a third round of stimulus checks. The payments are an advance of a temporary credit for 2021 (which you file taxes for in 2022).

The payment is worth up to $1,400 for each eligible adult and each qualifying dependent in a household. For example, a family of four would receive up to $5,600.

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Eligibility

1. Who is eligible for the third stimulus check?

While eligibility is similar to the first and second stimulus checks, there are differences. There are four primary requirements:

 1. Income: The income requirements to receive the full payment are the same as the first and second stimulus checks. There is no minimum income needed to qualify for the payment. Households with adjusted gross income (AGI) up to $75,000 for individuals (up to $150,000 if married filing jointly and up to $112,500 if head of household) will receive the full payment. The third stimulus payment starts to phaseout for people with higher earnings. The third stimulus check’s maximum income limit is lower than the first and second stimulus check. Single filers who earned more than $80,000 ($160,000 if married filing jointly and $120,000 if head of household) in 2020 are ineligible for the third stimulus check.

View the chart below to compare income requirements for the first, second, and third stimulus checks.

Income to Receive Full Stimulus Payment (first, second, and third check) First Stimulus Check Maximum Income Limit Second Stimulus Check Maximum Income Limit Third Stimulus Check Maximum Income Limit
Single Filer $0 – $75,000 $99,000 $87,000 $80,000
Married Filing Jointly $0 – $112,500 $198,000 $174,000 $160,000
Head of Household $0 – $150,000 $136,500 $124,500 $120,000

2. Social Security Number: This requirement is different from the first and second stimulus check.

Any family member that has a Social Security number (SSN) or dependent (regardless of age) can qualify for the third stimulus check. For example, in a household where both parents have ITINs, and their children have SSNs, the children qualify for stimulus checks, even though the parents don’t.

For the first and second stimulus check, at least one spouse must have a valid Social Security number (SSN). If you are married filing jointly, and one spouse has an SSN and one has an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), the spouse with an SSN and any qualifying dependents with SSNs or Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number (ATIN) can get the payment. If one spouse is an active member of the military, then both spouses are eligible for a stimulus check even if only one spouse has an SSN and the other spouse has an ITIN.

Originally, under the first stimulus check, if you were married filing jointly, both spouses needed valid SSNs. However, expanded SSN rules for the second stimulus check are retroactive and now apply to the first stimulus check. If you were denied your first stimulus payment because both you and your spouse did not have SSNs, you can claim your first stimulus check as the Recovery Rebate Tax Credit on your 2020 tax return or use GetCTC.org if you don’t have a filing requirement. The deadline to use GetCTC.org is November 15, 2021.

See the chart below for further explanation of how this works.

 

First and Second Stimulus Check Third Stimulus Check
Non-Military Family If one spouse doesn’t have an SSN, the spouse with an SSN and qualifying children with an SSN or ATIN can get the stimulus.

Children (under 17) can only get the stimulus if at least one parent has an SSN.

Any family member or dependent with an SSN or ATIN can get the stimulus. Dependents (any age) with SSNs or ATINs still qualify for the stimulus even if their parents don’t have SSNs.
Military Family If one spouse doesn’t have an SSN, both spouses can receive the stimulus (including the spouse without an SSN). Qualifying children (under 17) with an SSN or ATIN can also get the stimulus. If one spouse doesn’t have an SSN, both spouses can receive the stimulus (including the spouse without an SSN). Dependents (any age) with an SSN or ATIN also qualify for the stimulus.

3. Dependency: The dependency requirement is the same as the first and second stimulus check. You cannot be claimed as someone else’s dependent on a tax return to get the third stimulus check for yourself.

If you are claiming dependents for an additional $1,400, they can be any age as long as they have an SSN or ATIN. Unlike the first and second stimulus checks, there is no age requirement.

4. Citizenship or Residence: The citizenship or residency requirements are the same as the first and second stimulus check. You must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or qualifying resident alien.

2. Which of my dependents qualify for the third stimulus check?

For the third stimulus check, all your dependents qualify, regardless of age. This means that for each child or adult dependent you have, you can claim an additional $1,400.

This is different from the first and second stimulus checks, which only allowed child dependents (under 17) to get the additional payment.

3. Can I claim a stimulus check for someone who is deceased?

Yes. For the third stimulus check, people who have died on or after January 1, 2021, are eligible to receive the third stimulus check. However, for married military couples, the date of eligibility is expanded. If the person who died was a member of the military and died before January 1, 2021, the surviving spouse can still receive the third stimulus check, even if they don’t have an SSN.

For the first and second stimulus check, the IRS has stated that people who died on or after January 1, 2020, are eligible to receive both payments.

If they didn’t receive the stimulus payments or didn’t receive the full amounts that they are eligible for, spouses or other family members can file a 2020 federal tax return and claim it as part of their tax refund or use GetCTC.org if they don’t have a filing requirement. The deadline to use GetCTC.org is November 15, 2021.

4. Can I get the third stimulus check if I am incarcerated?

If you are incarcerated, you are eligible to receive the first, second, and third stimulus checks if you meet the other eligibility requirements.

5. What if I owe child support payments, back taxes, money to creditors or debt collectors, or federal or state debt?

None of the three stimulus checks can be reduced to pay any federal or state debts and back taxes. Unlike the first stimulus check, your second and third stimulus check cannot be reduced if you owe past-due child support payments.

Federal or State Debt Back Taxes Past-due Child Support Private Debt
First Stimulus Check Protected Protected Not Protected Not protected
Second Stimulus Check Protected Protected Protected Protected
Third Stimulus Check Protected Protected Protected Not protected

If you are claiming the payments as part of your 2020 tax refund (known as the Recovery Rebate Tax Credit), the payments are no longer protected from past-due child support payments, back taxes, creditor and debt collectors, and other federal or state debt that you owe (see IRS FAQs Q E2 and Q E3). In other words, if you receive your first or second stimulus checks as part of your tax refund instead of direct checks, it may be reduced.

6. What if I get government benefits? Will the third check count against eligibility? What about the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or unemployment benefits?

Just like the first and second stimulus checks, the third stimulus check does not count as income when determining your eligibility for means-tested programs like SNAP, TANF, or Medicaid. Stimulus checks are not counted as income for the EITC or unemployment benefits.

7. Are the third stimulus checks taxable? Will I owe the IRS money next year?

Just like the first and second stimulus checks, the third stimulus check doesn’t count as income, so you don’t have to pay taxes on them. You will not be required to pay anything back.

8. What if both my spouse and I have ITINs, and our children have SSNs? Can our family get the third stimulus check for our children?

Yes. For the third stimulus check, any household member that has an SSN qualifies for a payment.

This is different than the first and second stimulus check, where at least one tax filer must have an SSN for the household to claim the stimulus checks. That adult with the SSN and any qualifying children with SSNs will get the stimulus checks.

Getting your Third Stimulus Check

9. How do I get my third stimulus check?

You don’t need to do anything if:

  • You have filed a tax return for tax year 2019 or 2020.
  • You are a Social Security recipient, including Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), railroad retiree. Or you are a Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI) and Veterans Affairs (VA) beneficiary.
  • You successfully signed up for the first stimulus check online using the IRS Non-Filers tool or submitted a simplified tax return that has been processed by the IRS.

The IRS will automatically send your payment. You can check on the status of your third stimulus check by visiting the IRS Get My Payment tool, available in English and Spanish.

If you are missing your third stimulus check, file your 2020 tax return or use GetCTC.org (available until November 15, 2021) if you don’t have a filing requirement. By submitting your information to the IRS, you will be signed up and automatically sent the third stimulus check.

10. When will the third stimulus check be issued?

The government started sending the third stimulus checks on March 12, 2021. The IRS continues to send third stimulus checks as people submit their information to the IRS either by filing a 2020 tax return or using GetCTC.org. The deadline to use GetCTC.org is November 15, 2021.

If you have your banking information on file, the IRS sent your payment via direct deposit. Otherwise, you will receive your payment as a check or debit card via mail. Mailed checks and debit cards may take longer to deliver.

If you don’t fall into any of these categories, you’ll have to wait to receive your third stimulus check. You will need to file a 2020 federal tax return to get the third stimulus check or use GetCTC.org if you don’t have a filing requirement.

You can also get the first and second stimulus check as the Recovery Rebate Credit on your tax return or GetCTC.org if you are eligible. 

11. Where is my third stimulus check?

You can track the status of your third stimulus check by using the IRS Get My Payment tool, available in English and Spanish. You can see whether your third stimulus check has been issued and whether your payment type is direct deposit or mail.

When you use the IRS Get My Payment tool, you will get one of the following messages:

Payment Status, which means:

  • A payment has been processed. You will be shown a payment date and whether the payment type is direct deposit or mail or
  • You’re eligible, but a payment has not been processed and a payment date is not available.

Payment Status Not Available, which means:

  • Your payment has not been processed or
  • You’re not eligible for a payment.

Need More Information, which means:

  • Your payment was returned to the IRS because the post office was unable to deliver it. If this message is displayed, you will have a chance to enter your banking information and receive your payment as a direct deposit. Otherwise, you will need to update your address before the IRS can send you your payment.

12. What if I am eligible for the stimulus checks but I didn’t file a 2019 or 2020 tax return and didn’t use the IRS Non-Filers tool?

File your 2020 tax return or use GetCTC.org if you don’t have a filing requirement.

You can file a tax return even if you don’t have a filing requirement to get other tax credits, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit.

If you didn’t get your first or second stimulus check or didn’t get the full amount that you are eligible for, file a 2020 federal tax return and claim them as part of your tax refund or use GetCTC.org if you don’t have a filing requirement. The deadline to use GetCTC.org is November 15, 2021.

13. Is there a deadline to get my third stimulus check?

If you will be filing a full tax return, you have until the IRS closes their tax filing software on November 20, 2021. After this date, you can still claim the third stimulus check in 2022 by filing your taxes for Tax Year 2021.

If you’re not required to file taxes, the deadline to use GetCTC.org is November 15, 2021. You can get the Recovery Rebate Credit using GetCTC.org, a simplified tax filing portal for non-filers. GetCTC is an IRS-approved service created by Code for America in partnership with the White House and U.S. Department of Treasury. You can use the portal even if you’re not signing up for the Child Tax Credit advance payments.

Troubleshooting

14. What if my bank account information changed, how will I get my third stimulus check?

The IRS will mail your check to the address it has on file for you if your third stimulus check was direct deposited into an invalid or closed bank account.

15. What if my mailing address changed since I received my previous stimulus checks? How will I get my third stimulus check?

If you are expecting to receive your third stimulus check by mail, it will be mailed to the last address you filed with the IRS. If your address has changed since then, there are different options you can take to make sure your stimulus check gets to you:

Option 1: File your 2020 federal tax return to update your address. If you haven’t filed your 2020 tax return yet, this is an easy way to update your address. File a tax return with your current address and your payment will be sent through the mail once the IRS receives your updated address.

Option 2: Provide your banking information in the IRS Get My Payment tool. If the post office was unable to deliver your stimulus check, it will be returned to the IRS. Two to three weeks after the payment has been issued, Get My Payment will display the message “Need More Information.” You will have the option to have your payment reissued as a direct deposit by providing your banking information.

If you don’t provide your banking information, the IRS will mail your payment once your address is updated.

Option 3: Notify the IRS that your address has changed by telephone, an IRS form, or a written statement. It can take 4-6 weeks for the IRS to process your request.

16. What if I still haven’t received my first and/or second stimulus check?

If you didn’t receive your first and/or second stimulus check in 2020, you can still claim the payments in 2021 as a tax credit by filing your 2020 tax return or using GetCTC.org. The deadline to use GetCTC.org is November 15, 2021.

Need Additional Help?

If you need help claiming your first, second, and/or third payment as the Recovery Rebate tax credit on your 2020 tax return, you can:

 

All information on this site is provided for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal or tax advice. The Center on Budget & Policy Priorities is not liable for how you use this information. Please seek a tax professional for personal tax advice.


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