Austin Goergen, a student at Oregon State University, started a petition last year to allow dependents ages 17 and up to qualify for stimulus checks.
Washington lawmakers are one step closer to authorizing new $1,400 stimulus checks for millions of Americans.
This time, one big group could become eligible for the first time: dependents age 17 and older.
That’s provided the bill the House of Representatives plans to pass and move on to the Senate is approved in its current form. The legislation is expected to be finalized in mid-March.
Such a change would be great news for people like Austin Goergen, 20, a student at Oregon State University, who last year started a Change.org petition when he realized the first $1,200 stimulus checks would exclude those like him and his peers who had been claimed as dependents.
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Goergen’s petition garnered almost 5,000 signatures. Still, the second $600 stimulus checks authorized by Congress in December continued to exclude individuals in that cohort, despite some calls on both sides of the aisle to change those terms.
Previous estimates from the American Enterprise Institute have indicated that expanding the stimulus payments to adult dependents could make as many as 26 million more people eligible for money.
That would generally cover college students, as well as adults with disabilities who may have been claimed by a caretaker.
“It just seemed like a really large oversight,” Goergen said.
The new bill will likely require adult dependents to coordinate with those who claimed them, and who will therefore receive the money. Nevertheless, Goergen said it is an improvement from the previous payments.
“I think the current bill with regard to how it’s approaching stimulus checks does a much better job,” he said.
Who could be eligible for the new $1,400 checks
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The legislative proposal calls for $1,400 payments per person, provided they fall under certain income thresholds.
Individuals with up to $75,000 in adjusted gross income will qualify for full payments, as well as heads of household earning up to $112,500 and married couples who file jointly with up to $150,000.
The checks would be reduced for incomes above those thresholds and capped at $100,000 in income for single filers, $150,000 for heads of household and $200,000 for joint filers.
This time, the phase-out rates are based on filing status and how many children you have, noted Garrett Watson, senior policy analyst at the Tax Foundation.
“That’s really because they wanted to ensure that filers above a certain income level didn’t receive any payment,” Watson said.
People should be mindful of that when determining how much money they should expect this time, he said.
As with the second $600 stimulus payments, families of mixed status households, where only one spouse has a valid Social Security number, would also be eligible. The payments would go to the qualifying spouse and their children, as long as they also have valid Social Security numbers.
The House Ways and Means Committee has called for basing the payments on either 2019 or 2020 tax returns.
Provided the legislation passes without delays, experts expect the $1,400 deposits could start arriving in late March.