Parents of 2020 babies might get an extra $1,100 stimulus check. Here’s how

March 5, 2021 0 By boss

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If the IRS didn’t know you had a baby in 2020, you could qualify for $1,100 more in stimulus money than you thought.


Angela Lang/CNET

If you had a baby in 2020, you may be in for another bundle of joy in 2021 — this time in the form of a stimulus check. Aside from the usual Child Tax Credit and other tax breaks for parents, eligible families could also see $1,100 in additional stimulus money for 2020 babies this year.

As the Senate gets ready to vote on the American Rescue Plan (President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion relief package, which includes a third stimulus check maxing out at $1,400 per person), millions of Americans are still waiting for missing payments from the first and second stimulus checks. Included in that group are the parents of babies born or adopted between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2020, whose newest dependents weren’t known to the IRS at the time those checks were cut.

The two stimulus payments last year included extra money for qualifying dependents. Eligibility was based on either 2018 or 2019 tax returns, however, so babies born after their parents filed those returns were not counted when the IRS sent the first two stimulus checks. (This means some parents of 2019 babies should expect additional stimulus money, too, if they didn’t file a 2019 return in time — more below on how to claim it.) We’ll tell you what you need to know and how to claim your missing money. And here’s how to calculate your family’s third stimulus check total and when the new payment could arrive.

How much extra stimulus money can parents of 2020 babies expect to receive?

Congress is currently hashing out plans for a third stimulus check, which would grant parents a maximum of $1,400 per qualifying dependent. But parents of babies born in 2020 are actually eligible for more than just this $1,400 check — an extra $1,100 could be coming your way even before the next bill passes if you met all the requirements for the first two stimulus checks. (Here are all the major differences between the first, second and third stimulus checks.)

The first stimulus check, which began hitting mailboxes and bank accounts last April, maxed out at $500 per qualifying dependent, while the second check, sent in December, had a $600 cap. That equals $1,100 if you had a dependent.

Assuming you met eligibility requirements for full benefits from both checks, couples filing jointly with one dependent child would be entitled to $1,200 each from the first check, plus $500 for your child, and $600 each from the second check, plus another $600 for your child, totaling $4,700 maximum when you add up both checks. 

But for 2020 babies, the total received was probably only $3,600 (assuming you’re not missing stimulus check money for other reasons), a shortfall of $1,100 for your new baby — $500 from check No. 1, and $600 from check No. 2. But you can still claim that money retroactively by filing it on your 2020 tax return (more below). 


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Parents of 2020 babies should file their tax returns ASAP

There’s a simple way to recoup missing stimulus money for qualified dependents — any missing stimulus money, actually: File your 2020 tax return as soon as possible. In fact, your 2020 tax return is the mechanism for updating anything that has changed in your stimulus eligibility since the passing of the CARES Act. That’s because once your 2020 return is on file, the IRS will use your new information to process future stimulus benefits. You can also set up direct deposit with the IRS when you file your return if you haven’t already, to ensure you get your next stimulus check as quickly as possible.

How to claim missing dependent stimulus money when you file taxes

Before you prepare your 2020 tax return, you need to calculate how much stimulus check money you were owed and determine how much you actually received. Any discrepancies between the two numbers can be claimed through the Recovery Rebate Credit on your return. (That is, unless you received more than you were owed. Here are all the reasons you may actually have to return stimulus money to the IRS.) 

If your missing stimulus money is the result of an IRS error or other mistake, a payment trace will likely be a better avenue for hunting down your check. But if you merely need to claim a new dependent, the Recovery Rebate Credit is what you’re looking for.

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New parents will need to act fast to claim missing stimulus money for their infants.


Sarah Tew/CNET

What about a third stimulus check for your dependents?

If you file your 2020 tax return before the third stimulus bill is passed (likely by March 14), your 2020 baby will be included as a qualifying dependent, and you’ll receive your full benefits as soon as the IRS begins sending them. As the bill stands now, a third check would have a cap of $1,400 per person and another $1,400 per qualifying dependent — and this time around, the definition of dependent has been expanded to include dependents of all ages.

What happens if you don’t file before the third stimulus check is sent? You’ll still be able to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit to recoup payments from the first and second stimulus checks, but your dependent benefits for the third check will have to be claimed on your 2021 tax return, when you file next year. (Here are all the ways a third check arriving during tax season would affect you, and potential stimulus tax pitfalls to avoid.)

All the other dependent benefits you should know about

You’re likely already aware of the Child Tax Credit, which currently grants taxpayers an extra $2,000 per child. But in the current version of the American Rescue Plan, this credit is expanded to $3,600 per child under 6 years old, and $3,000 per child up to age 17. The bill also proposes expanded tax credits for child care, potentially totaling $4,000 for one child or $8,000 for two or more children. Here’s everything to know about expanded benefits for parents in the third stimulus bill.

I received stimulus money for my 2020 baby — what do I do now?

If you find yourself in the fortunate position of not needing to use your stimulus check money to meet household expenses, it’s never too early to start thinking about your child’s future education. You can set up a 529 plan in your child’s name, and it’ll grow tax-free (just like a Roth IRA) as long as it’s eventually used for qualifying education expenses. Here are some other good ways to put your stimulus check money to use.

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