What we're witnessing now with regard to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and the global response to mitigate its spread is without precedent.
As recently as six weeks ago, the idea of shutting down nonessential businesses for more than a month to slow the transmission of COVID-19 and flatten the curve would have been viewed as outlandish. Today, it's a necessary move, especially with 1 in 4 cases of the respiratory illness originating in the United States, as of this past weekend.
But these mitigation measures are doing untold damage to the U.S. economy and Americans' pocketbooks and are likely pushing us toward a recession. That's why lawmakers took the bold step to pass the largest stimulus package in U.S. history last month.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, signed into law by President Trump on March 27, totaled $2.2 trillion. It sets aside $500 billion for distressed industries, $260 billion to expand the unemployment program, $350 billion for small business loans, and approximately $300 billion for stimulus checks to be sent directly to the American public.
In an optimal scenario, the CARES Act will provide single taxpayers with a check (or direct deposit) of up to $1,200, with married couples filing jointly netting up to $2,400. Furthermore, parents of qualifying children can net $500 per child. Thus, a couple with two children could walk away with a check or direct deposit of $3,400 from the federal government.
Most adults are going to receive a Trump stimulus check, and lawmakers are hoping that they'll use them to pay bills and buy goods and services. Remember, more than 70% of all U.S. gross domestic product is dependent on consumption.
However, based on some sleuthing, I'd estimate that up to 65 million people aren't eligible for a Trump stimulus check. These folks fall into three categories.
According to the income guidelines outlined by the CARES Act, taxpayers who, in 2018 or 2019, filed as single, head-of-household or married filing jointly and earned less than $75,000, $112,500, and $150,000 in respective adjusted gross income (AGI) can receive the maximum amount of the stimulus check. Note, a taxpayers' most current tax filing will be used to determine the amount of stimulus paid. Thus, if you've filed your 2019 federal income tax return already, it will be the point of reference for determining your payout.
For single, head-of-household, and married couples respectively earning between $75,000 and $99,000 in AGI, $112,500 and $136,500 in AGI, and $150,000 and $198,000 in AGI, a phase-out exists that lowers the amount of the stimulus check. But for single, head-of-household, and married couples making more than $99,000 in AGI, $136,500 in AGI, and $198,000 in AGI, respectively, no stimulus check will be paid.
Based on wage statistics on file with the Social Security Administration for 2018, over 17 million people netted at least $99,000 in net compensation.
Dependents aged 17 and older
The CARES Act also excludes dependents aged 17 and older from receiving a stimulus check. This means college students aged 19 to 24 who are being claimed by their parents as a dependent aren't expected to receive a dime. Furthermore, the parents of children over the age of 16 won't be receiving the $500-per-child stimulus kicker, even if their kids still legally qualify as a dependent on their income-tax filing.
What's more, disabled adults and seniors who are claimed as dependents won't be receiving a stimulus check.
Based on calculations from the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, the CARES Act rule disallowing college-age dependents and disabled dependent adults from receiving a Trump stimulus check will reduce the number of potential payouts by approximately 30 million.
Lastly, you'll need to have filed a tax return and/or have a valid Social Security number in order to receive a Trump stimulus check. With very few exceptions, if you don't have a valid Social Security number that allows you to work in the U.S., you can't be legally hired by an employer.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), which analyzed the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey between 2008 and 2018, there are an estimated 21,695,000 non-citizens in the United States. If we arbitrarily assume that around a quarter of these non-citizens are children -- 21% of all people recognized by the U.S. monthly postcensal resident count are aged 16 or under -- it means somewhere in the neighborhood of 16 million non-citizen adults aren't going to be receiving a Trump stimulus check.
Altogether, more than 17 million upper-income earners, around 30 million dependents, and north of 16 million non-citizens will not be receiving a check. That's in the neighborhood of 65 million people who won't see a dime from the largest stimulus package in history.