It has been a rocky few years. Since 2020, we have dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic, civil unrest, and now a recession. These issues have rocked the lives of many people, especially those with children. To ease the burden, the government sent out stimulus checks to families around the country. If you are still filing your taxes from that time, then you may be trying to remember the first stimulus check and the amount you received per child.
We are here to help. In this article, we will talk about that first check and the details you need to know.
- The first stimulus check included $500 per dependent child.
- The first stimulus check should not be confused with the Child Tax Credit, which has existed under different terms each year over the past few years.
- If you never received your stimulus check, then you may still be eligible to receive it. In this case, speak to a tax professional to figure out the next best steps.
How Much Was That First Stimulus Check Per Child?
After the COVID-19 pandemic became a terrifying reality, President Donald Trump and Congress authorized the sending of stimulus checks to millions of U.S. citizens. Among them were payments for up to $1,200, $600, and $1,400. The idea is that the money would help out families and that they would buy things with that cash to stimulate the economy.
Not everyone was eligible. Instead, it was based on your income. If you were single, then you had to earn less than $75,000. Families with a single income had to earn less than $112,500. Finally, married couples that filed jointly could only make up to $150,000 total to get the checks.
An additional perk was that you would be sent a check for each child you had. The first stimulus check was $500 for each dependent child. The checks were sent out automatically based on data previously compiled by the government via tax filings from 2018 and/or 2019.
It is worth noting that if you never received your check, you may still have a chance to claim what you missed. You may need to speak to a tax professional first. However, you can try by sending in your 2020 tax return and try to get the recovery rebate credit. If you are unsure if you are missing money, then you can fill out a recovery rebate credit worksheet to determine how much you may be entitled to receive.
If you filed electronically, then you can also use your tax software to determine what you are owed.
What About the Child Tax Credit?
It is worth noting that the first stimulus check of $500 is different then the potential child tax credit that you could receive if you have qualifying dependents. The amount that you get for the child tax credit has varied over the last several years. If you are filing taxes in 2023 (for 2022), then you could be eligible for $2,000 per eligible child.
There are several requirements you need to meet in order to be eligible for this credit.
Among them is the fact that you must make at least $2,500 over the course of the year. You can also only make a certain amount of money per year to qualify. Single-income households must make less than $200,000, while families that have dual income must make less than $400,000. Also, you and the child must have a valid social security number, and the child must have lived in your house within the United States for at least six months.
For more information, check out a couple of the articles we have on our site that explain the CTC in greater depth.
Smart Ways to Spend Your Stimulus Check
When you get your first stimulus check, or you receive the perks of the child tax credit, it is important to spend that money wisely. Here are a few smart ideas that you can consider that can help your family going forward.
Pay Off Debts
One of the reasons that you received a stimulus check in the first place is so that you can spend it and get the economy working again. It is also there to help your family stay afloat. You can accomplish both of these goals by paying off the debts that you are struggling with at the moment.
There are two strategies that you can consider when paying off debt. One is to pay off your largest debt so you can get rid of your most significant burden and be less stressed going forward. The other method is to pay off all of your small debts, so you have less to worry about overall. Then, you can put all of your focus on the debt that remains.
Start An Emergency Fund
Since you can never predict what will happen in the future, it is a wise idea to put this stimulus money into an emergency fund. This is money that you should not touch unless you are in dire straits or there is a medical emergency. Consider putting the money in a high-interest savings account so it will continue to add up over time. This stimulus check will likely not be enough to make up an entire emergency fund, but it can give you a good head start.
Tune Up Your Vehicle
The last thing that you need during a financial downturn is for your vehicle to break down and prevent you from being able to get to work. Now that you have some extra money, consider using it to give your car or truck a tune-up. Rotate the tires, change the oil, and maintain any parts of the vehicle that have been giving you issues. It will likely cost a lot less to make these repairs now than it will if the issue gets worse.
Will There Be Any More Stimulus Checks in 2023?
Currently, the federal government has not given any indication that they plan on sending out any additional stimulus checks. There are a few states, however, that are considering stimulus checks for 2023.
If you live in California, Idaho, Maine, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, or South Carolina, then you may be eligible for a new stimulus check. The requirements and the amount will vary from state to state, and nothing is set in stone yet. Keep an eye on your state's tax site for more info, or consult a certified tax professional for more information.
In conclusion, the amount of the first stimulus check was $500 per child. It is a nice perk, to be sure. However, it is what you did with that money that will really make the difference. The lesson is to always save and use your money wisely, as you never know what might come next.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©iStock.com/Ivan-balvan.