Congress passed and the President recently signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. The bill includes a second round of stimulus payments as a credit or rebate to qualifying taxpayers.
The payments are for $600 for eligible individuals (or $1,200 for those filing a joint return) and an additional $600 per qualifying child, for those with an adjusted gross income of not more than $75,000 for individual taxpayers, $150,000 in the case of a joint income tax return, or $112,500 in the case of a head of household.
For purposes of the rebate, an eligible individual is any person who is a resident alien, as that term is defined under the Internal Revenue Code. A foreign national is a resident alien for income tax purposes if they meet either the green-card test or the substantial presence test for the calendar year.
Nonimmigrants who pay taxes as resident aliens and who are not listed as dependents on someone else’s income tax return are likely to be eligible for the rebate, provided they meet the income criteria and U.S. Social Security Number requirements.
Taxpayers filing individually must list a valid Social Security Number (SSN) on their tax return to be eligible for the rebate. Taxpayers claiming additional rebates for dependent children must list a valid SSN for each child claimed.
A critical change from the rebates issued in Spring 2020, SSN requirements have been eased for mixed-status families, or households where at least one household member does not have a valid SSN. Excluded from stimulus relief up until now, US citizens and permanent residents who filed a joint tax return with an undocumented spouse will receive a check. Additionally, married couples who were ineligible for the Spring 2020 rebate because one spouse did not have an SSN may now claim that rebate on their joint 2020 income tax return.
This change will have a meaningful financial impact, as Vox reports that an estimated 16.7 million people live in mixed-status households nationwide, including 8.2 million US-born or naturalized citizens. That number includes DACA recipients, children and young adults whose parents often do not have legal status.
Like the first round of rebates issued in Spring 2020, this second rebate is not considered a cash public benefit for purposes of public charge bars to admissibility because it is structured as an advance tax credit.
If you have questions or concerns regarding your eligibility to receive a stimulus payment, we highly encourage you to contact a qualified tax professional.