Didn't get a stimulus check yet? Here's why you might not qualify

The IRS has been sending waves of third stimulus checks to over 100 million people, but there are still tens of millions who may not get it.

Katie Teague Writer II
Katie is a writer covering all things how-to at CNET, with a focus on Social Security and notable events. When she's not writing, she enjoys playing in golf scrambles, practicing yoga and spending time on the lake.
Expertise Personal Finance: Social Security and taxes
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Katie Teague
Shelby Brown
5 min read

Fewer people qualify for the $1,400 stimulus payment based on income alone. Did you make the cut?

Sarah Tew/CNET

If you still haven't received a third stimulus check, you're likely wondering when it will arrive. The IRS is still sending out waves of $1,400 payments, but roughly 16 million people who qualified for the second payment may be disqualified this time. If you've checked the IRS tracking tool and studied our stimulus troubleshooting advice, you may also get nothing this time.

Another thing you'll want to check is whether your income is above or below the new income limit for individuals and families, as it's lower under the new bill. Taxes -- specifically your AGI -- play a huge role in qualifications for this round, depending on which tax return the IRS uses -- your 2019 or 2020 tax form. That means you'll need to compare your income from both years to see if you qualify. Also, be aware that the deadline to file taxes was pushed back to May 17

Other reasons could be preventing you from getting a check, too. Here's everything we know about who is and isn't qualified for a $1,400 per person stimulus check. Also, here are nine unusual stimulus check facts you didn't know. (Could a fourth stimulus check happen? What to know.) This story was recently updated.

Your stimulus check eligibility could depend on your taxes

If you're right on the cusp of the income limits described below, when you file your taxes could make the difference between qualifying for a partial check or not. That's because a third stimulus check is now arriving during tax season.

The language in the stimulus bill makes it clear that the IRS will base your next stimulus check on your 2019 or 2020 taxes, whichever is on file when it processes your payment. However, the IRS is reportedly delayed in processing new tax returns. If you made more in 2020 than in 2019, time is on your side. The new tax deadline is May 17. If you need more time, you might want to request a tax extension

At this point of the stimulus check delivery cycle, filing taxes sooner may not be to your advantage. The IRS is prioritizing stimulus check distribution over tax returns, and when the processing happens is outside your control.

If you did already receive your third stimulus check and it was based on your 2019 taxes but you qualified for more with your 2020 return, the IRS will be sending "plus-up payments" to correct the amount between now and Dec. 31, 2021. If you don't receive your catch-up payment by then, you'll need to claim it on your taxes next spring.

Watch this: Stimulus check 3: How much money you'll get

Individual taxpayers with AGI of $80,000 or more aren't eligible

The new stimulus check will begin to phase out after $75,000, per the new "targeted" stimulus plan. If your adjusted gross income, or AGI, is $80,000 or more, you won't be eligible for a third payment of any amount. However, if you make between $75,000 and $80,000, you could get a portion of the check. You'd receive the full amount if your yearly income is less than $75,000. Here's how to estimate the stimulus check total you could receive.

Stimulus check plan for income limits

Full $1,400 per person maximum (based on AGI)Not eligible (based on AGI)
Individual taxpayer Less than $75,000$80,000 or more
Head of household Less than $112,500$120,000 or more
Married couple filing jointly Less than $150,000$160,000 or more

Heads of households: If your AGI is over $120,000 or more you're not eligible

Similar to the single-taxpayer cutoff, heads of household (people who don't file jointly and claim a dependent) with an AGI of $120,000 or more are excluded under the new bill. To get a partial stimulus payment, you'd need to make between $112,500 and $120,000. But to get the full amount, you'd need to make less than $112,500 if you're the head of household.

Married couples filing jointly aren't eligible if they have an AGI of $160,000 or higher

If you and your partner are a married couple filing jointly and have an AGI of $160,000 or higher, you won't be eligible for the third stimulus check. To qualify for the full $1,400 payment, your combined household income would need to be less than $150,000. The amount you could receive would phase out after that amount until you reach the cutoff.


With the new bill, individuals and families could qualify for a payment.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Non-US citizens or 'nonresident aliens' aren't qualified

If you're considered a nonresident alien by the IRS, you won't be included in the third stimulus check. The government defines a nonresident alien as someone who "has not passed the green card test or the substantial presence test." For example, if you're studying abroad in the US.

With the first stimulus check, noncitizens needed to have a Social Security number and live and work in the US to qualify for a payment. However, the second check amended the rules to allow families with a noncitizen spouse to qualify for a second stimulus check, even if they are issued a taxpayer identification number (ITIN) by the IRS and not a Social Security number. See more below.

Noncitizens need to meet these marriage requirements to qualify

If you're considered a noncitizen, you may or may not get a stimulus check, depending on a couple of factors. Under the new bill, mixed-status households with at least one family member who has a Social Security number could be eligible for the third stimulus check, assuming they meet the other requirements, including the income limits. 

Not everyone who lives in a US territory is ensured a check 

With the first two stimulus checks, people who live in Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam or the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands may have been eligible to receive payments. Whether these groups qualified for a check has in the past been determined by the tax authorities in each territory. These agencies were also directed to make the payments. It's the same situation for the third stimulus checks.

If you never received a payment for one or both of the previous stimulus checks, you'll need to contact your local tax authority to inquire.


Nonfilers will need to take an extra step to get their stimulus money.

Sarah Tew/CNET

What to know if you're a nonfiler and don't file your taxes

If you're a nonfiler and typically aren't required to file income taxes, you're eligible to receive the third stimulus check. However, if you're missing money from a previous check you may need to take an extra step to get your money by filing your taxes this year. If there's an issue receiving some or all of a third check, it's likely you would need to file a claim during next year's tax season.

What to do if a family member died since last filing your taxes

It depends on which tax return the IRS uses (see above). For example, if the IRS goes by your 2019 tax return, it's likely you'd get to keep the amount you received for the deceased person. With the first stimulus check, the IRS asked people to return the money for someone who had died since the previous tax filing. With the second check, if your spouse died in 2020 and your AGI was less than $112,500 a year, you would be eligible for the full $600 amount.

For more information, here's how to track your stimulus check to your mailbox, what you should and shouldn't do if your stimulus check never arrives and who qualifies for a third stimulus check.