The outbreak of coronavirus, which was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) on March 11, is upending everyone's lives. Whether you're struggling with the health risks, the education disruptions, or the economic freefall, pretty much everyone is affected. As Americans are increasingly affected by the upheaval of the pandemic, on March 27, the federal government passed a stimulus plan that will give $1,200 to most adult Americans. But will you get the stimulus check if you're still in college? Under certain conditions, maybe?
The stimulus plan does a number of things, but perhaps most relevant to many Americans is the $1,200 coronavirus stimulus payment the federal government plans to send out to adults earning up to $75,000, with prorated amounts going out to people earning up to $99,000. Children under 17 get $500. The checks are planned to be released within a few weeks, likely by mid to late April, according to the IRS. Eligibility is determined by your 2018 taxes (or your 2019 taxes, if you've already filed them).
But if you've noticed a large doughnut hole there, you're not the only one. Adults who are over 18 but are categorized as a dependent are not eligible for a check, meaning that many college students, disabled adults, and others may not get that extra injection of funds.
"Because they could be claimed as a dependent on their parents' return, they cannot file separately and claim the credit for $1,200," Janet Holtzblatt, senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, tells Elite Daily. "The parent can claim a credit of up to $500 for each child, but the child needs to be under the age of 17. So the high school junior, the high school senior, and the full-time college student who still qualifies as a dependent — they're the ones who fall through the cracks." They can't get their own payment, and they don't qualify for the partial credit that kids get.
Other groups are left out of the stimulus payments as well, including many disabled adults and undocumented workers, who don't have the required Social Security number to receive the payment. Essentially, any adult over 18 who can be claimed as a dependent on someone else's taxes, or who doesn't have the legal status to work, can't claim the payment. "The language is very restrictive," says Holtzblatt. "This is a whole population — 17- and 18-year-olds, the full time students between the ages of 19 and 24, and then the disabled dependents regardless of their age — all of them are left out by the legislation."
However, this is about your financial and tax status, so if you're a fully financially-independent student who filed your taxes in 2018 or 2019 — and you're not eligible to be claimed as a dependent by another adult — you may be able to claim the stimulus payment. Still, it's a tough sell. The IRS considers full time students under age 24 who live with their parents over half the year to be dependents, and temporary absences from home — like living away for school — count as living with your parents. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter whether your parents or other adults have claimed you as a dependent, as much as whether they're able to do so. "It's a tricky situation," says Holtzblatt.
In short, most college students are out of luck, but if you're fully and completely financially independent for the first time in 2019, you may want to go ahead and file your taxes ASAP. The IRS instructs anyone who hasn't filed for 2018 or 2019 to do so as soon as they can in order to receive their payment. The extended deadline for filing your 2019 taxes is July 15.
If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all Elite Daily's coverage of coronavirus here.