Don’t Believe These 10 Myths About Stimulus Checks (2024)


John Waggoner


En español

Published March 24, 2021

|A number of misconceptions are flying around about the three rounds of stimulus checks called for by the CARES Act, the Consolidated Appropriations Act and the American Rescue Plan Act, which together have given a maximum $3,200 per person. Here's a closer look atseveral of these erroneous claims surrounding what the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) refers to as economic impact payments. Consider yourself warned.

1. Donald Trump signed the stimulus checks

Millions of paper stimulus checks issued by mail in the first two rounds of stimulus do bear the ex-president’s name but not his signature. The checks were actually signed by Vona Robinson, an official with the Treasury Department’s Bureau of the Fiscal Service. The president’s name does, however, appear in all caps on the face of the first two stimulus checks, next to the image of the Statue of Liberty. If you receive a stimulus check with Donald Trump’s signature, it’s a fake. The third stimulus check does not display the name of Trump’s successor, President Joe Biden.

Don’t Believe These 10 Myths About Stimulus Checks (1)

Don’t Believe These 10 Myths About Stimulus Checks (2)

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2. You had to file a tax return to get a stimulus payment

Absolutely not.The IRS used the most recent tax return you filed to determine your eligibility to receive a stimulus check. But the IRS also went to great lengths to ensure that those not required to file tax returns also got their checks. At the urging of AARP, the IRS worked closely with the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to make sure that non-filers who received benefits from SSA — including benefits for survivors, the disabled (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients — or the VA got a check. It also rolled out a tool on called, logically, “Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here.”The tool is not active for the third stimulus check.

3. You owe income tax on your stimulus payment

Nope. To quote the IRS coronavirus economic impact information center: “No, the payment is not income and taxpayers will not owe tax on it. The payment will not reduce a taxpayer's refund or increase the amount they owe when they file their 2020 tax return next year. A payment also will not affect income for purposes of determining eligibility for federal government assistance or benefit programs.”

4. College students aren't eligible for stimulus payments

For the first two rounds of stimulus checks, as long as you were 17 or older and weren’t claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return, you were eligible for a stimulus check. Whether or not you were in school didn’t matter. You also had to meet the income requirements. To receive a full stimulus payment, your adjusted gross income (AGI) had to be at or below $75,000 for individuals and $150,000 for married couples filing joint returns.

Most college students didn’t have to worry about this. What they did have to worry about is being claimed as a dependent by their parents. That negated their eligibility to receive a first or second stimulus check. The third stimulus payment removed the age restriction, so if your parents claim you as a dependent and you’re 20 years old, they could get extra stimulus money because of you. It’s up to your parents whether they choose to give you the $1,400 they received on your behalf. The same applies to elderly dependents – the $1,400 goes to the person who claimed the elderly dependent, not directly to the dependent.

5. It's too late to get a stimulus check

The IRS has already pushed out millions of stimulus payments, either by paper check, direct deposit or prepaid debit card. Nevertheless, some people who were entitled to a stimulus payment haven't gotten one, possibly because their income was too low for them to file taxes.If you didn't receive a payment last year, or your payment is in the wrong amount, you can claim the missing money when you file a tax return fortax year 2020.

Don’t Believe These 10 Myths About Stimulus Checks (3)

Don’t Believe These 10 Myths About Stimulus Checks (4)

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Don’t Believe These 10 Myths About Stimulus Checks (2024)


What are negatives to stimulus checks? ›

It Can Cause Surprises During Tax Season

The typical refund for the 2022 tax year is $2,878 through April 7 -- 9.3% lower than the year before, according to IRS tax data. This is because pandemic-era aid, like stimulus checks, is no longer providing Americans with tax benefits.

Are stimulus checks a good idea? ›

Theoretically, when a government issues stimulus checks, the money trickles down throughout the rest of the economy and spurs economic activity. With more economic activity comes more tax revenue. According to the authors, the extra tax revenue can then be used to pay off the debt incurred from the initial deficit.

Is California getting a stimulus check in 2024? ›

The $6,000 stimulus checks from the state of California will be distributed over a duration of 18 months, from June 2023 to November 2024. It is advised that people check the California government's official website to confirm payment dates and other important details.

Can you still claim stimulus checks? ›

Those who didn't receive checks (or received the wrong amount) can still claim them before the deadline. Despite rumors about a fourth stimulus check, the IRS confirmed it is not releasing another round of payments in 2024.

What would disqualify me from getting a stimulus check? ›

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.

Who is not eligible for stimulus check? ›

Single filers with income exceeding $99,000 and $198,000 for joint filers with no children are not eligible. Social Security recipients and railroad retirees who are otherwise not required to file a tax return are also eligible and will not be required to file a return.

Will CalFresh recipients get $600? ›

If you qualify for Calfresh, Medi-Cal, general assistance, and Cal Works, you will be able to receive this check.

What is the $600 California stimulus? ›

California will provide the Golden State Stimulus payment to families and individuals who qualify. This is a one-time $600 or $1,200 payment per tax return.

Will everyone get the California stimulus? ›

California will provide the Golden State Stimulus payment to families and individuals who qualify. You may receive this payment if you file your 2020 tax return and receive the California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC) or file with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).

What if you never cashed your stimulus check? ›

The IRS will process your claim for a missing payment in one of two ways: If the check was not cashed, they will reverse your payment and notify you. If you find the original check, you must return it as soon as possible.

Can I still get my stimulus checks if I never got them? ›

It's not too late to get any missed stimulus checks! You will need to file a 2020 tax return to get the first and second stimulus checks and a 2021 tax return to get the third stimulus check.

Is it too late to get a stimulus check? ›

The deadline is June 17, 2024, and with each passing day, the opportunity to claim what's rightfully yours dwindles. If you're a U.S. expat and haven't claimed your stimulus checks yet, it's time to sit up and take action. The U.S. government issued three stimulus checks as a part of its COVID-19 relief measures.

How have stimulus checks affected the economy? ›

Stimulus payments this spring significantly increased total consumer spending but, crucially, did not return money back to the businesses that were hardest hit by the crisis. Nearly $300 billion in CARES Act funds were distributed directly to over 160 million people.

How do stimulus checks affect tax returns? ›

Based on your entries for the stimulus payment amounts, filing status, and dependents , the program will automatically calculate the amount of credit due to you and enter the amount on line 30 of your Form 1040 or 1040SR. The stimulus payment is not added to your taxable income on your return.

What if my stimulus check is wrong? ›

What you need to do: You should open the check, write VOID on the check and then return it to the IRS. If the payment was via direct deposit or a check received from the IRS was already cashed, you should write a personal check to the IRS to return the money.

Have stimulus checks made inflation worse? ›

Stimulus money boosted inflation by 2.6%—but it also likely prevented an even worse crisis, Fed study finds.

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