President Biden at roundtable about economic stimulus

Why Your Stimulus Check Might Be More Than Expected

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Mar. 24 2021, Published 12:37 p.m. ET

The third round of EIP (economic impact payments) is en route to eligible Americans. Some people's stimulus checks are bigger than they expected.

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If you're one of them, here are a few reasons why your stimulus check might be higher than you thought it would be. 

You might have received the stimulus check by accident.

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The third stimulus check has a new income cap based on AGI (annual gross income). An AGI of $75,000 for individuals and $150,000 for married couples is the maximum income for eligible stimulus check recipients

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During the first round of stimulus payments, the government inadvertently sent stimulus checks to ineligible individuals whose income exceeded the cap. The government asked them to return the money. This could happen again or people could get the full amount of $1,400 when they are actually only eligible for a smaller amount.

Some young people aren't eligible for a check because their parents or caretakers still claim them as a dependent. If you're a dependent and you received a stimulus check, it might have been an accident. 

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Your annual gross income might be lower than you thought.

Perhaps you thought you made more last year than you actually did. If this is the case, you might have thought you would only be eligible for a smaller sum of stimulus money or nothing at all. People receive a reduced amount for income up to $80,000 individually or $160,000 jointly. After that, they aren't eligible.

You received a joint married stimulus check.

Another reason you might see a larger amount of money in your account than expected is that you're looking at a joint married stimulus check. In this case, you would have received up to $2,800 for the two of you. Check with your partner to see if they got anything in the mail or in their bank account. If not, it's a shared stimulus check and you're receiving the right amount.

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Will you have to return your stimulus money?

If you got more stimulus money than expected, it's important to look at why that occurred. In some cases, it might be accurate—like if you received a $2,800 check because you're married and filed your taxes jointly or if you overestimated your AGI.

In other cases, you might have received more than you are actually eligible for. You might have made more money than the IRS realized or they skipped over the fact that you're still a dependent. In this case, you might have to return the difference to the IRS, so don't spend it yet. The IRS will contact you if this is the case, so you don't have to do anything. Historically, the IRS isn't immune to blunders, but they've likely gotten their act together by the third EIP. So, we can assume there will be fewer mishaps this time around. However, I wouldn't put it past the IRS to make some mistakes, particularly with tax season approaching. 

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