Skip to main content


Another Round of Possible Stimulus: Should you rush to file your 2020 taxes or


Tommy Blackburn, CFP®, CPA, PFS

John M. Mason, CFP®


Another round of stimulus is making its way through Congress. Although the bill hasn’t officially passed, it appears that the stimulus payments will be up to $1,400 per person and that dependents are included. The $1,400 payments are subject to an income test and the phase-out range is likely to be similar to the earlier rounds of stimulus.

  • Single: $75,000 - $100,000
  • Married Filing Jointly: $150,000 - $200,000

Based upon the bill that just passed the House but is by no means final, this round of stimulus will define income as Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) from the most recent tax return on file with the IRS which is the same method used in prior rounds of stimulus. Thus the next stimulus payments could either be based on your 2019 Adjusted Gross Income or your 2020 Adjusted Gross Income if you’ve already filed your 2020 tax return. According to the bill that passed the House, the stimulus payments will be based on your 2019 AGI if taxpayers have not filed their 2020 income tax returns at the time the payments are issued.

File Now or Wait

We are anxiously awaiting the specifics of the new legislation and for it to pass through the Senate and any differences to be reconciled between the two chambers of Congress. Until then, all we can make are educated assumptions based on what happened in 2020 and what the House has passed.  We believe that there is a planning opportunity centered around filing your 2020 tax return now or potentially delaying until closer to April 15th.

  • Delay filing- If your 2019 income was lower than 2020 (your income increased in 2020), you may want to wait to file your 2020 taxes until after the stimulus has been distributed.  The lower income from 2019 could make you eligible for the entire stimulus or a higher percentage of it. The higher 2020 income could potentially result in a partial or complete phase out of the payments.
  • File soon- If your 2020 income is lower than 2019, you may want to file quickly, because the 2019 income is what the IRS will use to determine the rebate amount.  The lower 2020 income could make you eligible for a greater portion or the entire portion of the next round of stimulus payments.

Your 2021 income may disqualify you for these payments. However, if this round of stimulus is similar to the last two (which the house bill is), you will not have to repay stimulus received if 2021 income is too high.

  • 2021 income reduction- There is an opportunity for those taxpayers whose income was too high in 2019 and 2020 to receive the next round of stimulus.  If those taxpayers retire in 2021 or have a drop in income that results in a lower Adjusted Gross Income, these taxpayers will likely be able to claim the stimulus payments as a tax credit when they file their 2021 tax return in 2022.  This makes the assumption that the next round of stimulus will be issued as an advanced tax credit, similar to the prior rounds and as it stands in the current House passed version.