You Might Lose Your $1,400 Stimulus Check If You File Your Taxes Now

By Dave Basner

February 23, 2021

This month, the IRS started accepting Americans' 2020 tax returns. Many people choose to send theirs in early so that they get their tax refunds faster and so they don't have the chore of doing taxes hanging over them, but some folks might be better off waiting a bit before they send their taxes in to Uncle Sam. It turns out that submitting taxes early could cause certain people to lose the $1,400 third stimulus.

Congress is currently working on another relief package, which includes the third stimulus that is expected to go out to millions of Americans who meet the eligibility requirements. While the politicians are still deciding on what those requirements will be, they will either be the same or less than the ones used for the first two direct payments. Those went in full to individuals who made less than $75,000 and to couples who made less than $150,000, with the amount phasing out for individuals making between $75,000 and $100,000, and for couples earning $150,000 to $200,000. The IRS used 2019 tax returns to decide who met those qualifications. They'll use them again for the third stimulus check... unless you submit your 2020 tax returns, which they will use instead.

This means if you got the first two stimulus checks because your 2019 earnings met the requirements, but then last year you had some changes to your finances - perhaps you got a new job with a higher salary or sold some over-performing stock - and now you no longer meet them, if you file your 2020 taxes now, you will not get the third stimulus check. If you still need the check, your best bet is to hold off until Congress passes the new relief bill. That's expected to happen in mid-to-late March, but as we've seen before, it can be delayed. With taxes due on April 15, you might cut it close.

On the other hand, if you didn't get the first two stimulus checks because you didn't meet the eligibility requirements in 2019, but things changed in your life last year and now you qualify for it, you should get your taxes in as soon as possible so the IRS has a record of your new earnings and sends you the stimulus check.

Congress has set a March 14 deadline for getting a completed relief bill to President Joe Biden. Time will tell if they are able to meet that goal.

Photo: Getty Images

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