Stimulus check: What’s an AGI and what does it have to do with your payment?


Your AGI is crucial to your taxes and to your stimulus check, too.

James Martin/CNET

Did you know that the IRS has a formula for deciding how much of the stimulus check money you’re allowed to receive? Though not everyone would qualify for a second stimulus payment, a major factor in calculating that total relies on a line item from your taxes called your adjusted gross income, or AGI. The first round of stimulus checks used it, and a second one most likely would, too, whenever it comes your way.

We’ll explain more below, but first, you’ll want to know that the negotiations to pass a new economic relief package are full steam ahead as the year’s business comes to a close. While the main proposal under consideration has dropped a second stimulus check, there’s reason to believe we may see it come up again for discussion within weeks.  Republicans and Democrats have voiced their support for another direct payment of up to $1,200 apiece for eligible adults.

Here’s what you need to know about what your AGI actually is, how to find it and how it all fits into stimulus payments. If you’re looking for more information, CNET has resources about the connection between stimulus checks and your IRS priority group, as well as what happens if you’re on SSI or SSDI, if you’re an older adult, if you have dependents, if you’re a young adult or if you are in a child support situation. 

What is my AGI and what does it mean for my stimulus payment?

Your AGI is your adjusted gross income — an amount calculated from your total income to determine how much the government can tax you. Your gross income is the sum of all the money you earn in a year, including wages, dividends, alimony, capital gains, interest income, royalties, rental income and retirement distributions. After you subtract allowable deductions from your gross income (like student loan interest, alimony payments or retirement contributions), the result is your AGI, or taxable income, which is used to calculate your income tax. Your AGI is reported on IRS tax form 1040. 

Since it’s a rough estimate of how much money you’re bringing in after deductions from all your streams of income, the IRS uses your AGI to calculate how much of a $1,200 stimulus check — the current maximum being debated — you can get. 

How can my AGI help me find out how much money I could get in a second stimulus check?

Assuming another economic relief package passes, the amount of money you could get from a second stimulus check depends on your AGI, your filing status (single versus joint) and how many dependents you have. You can check out our story on how to calculate how much money you’d get from a second stimulus check for some examples on how it could break down for you, depending on your situation. 

If the second relief package follows the same guidelines for stimulus checks as the March CARES Act, single taxpayers with a Social Security number and an AGI under $75,000 would receive the full amount of $1,200. As your AGI goes up, the amount you’re eligible for decreases. If your AGI is $99,000 or above, you wouldn’t be eligible for the stimulus check. But again, this assumes that the eligibility rules stay roughly the same.

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If you’re filing as head of a household, you’d get the full $1,200 check if your AGI is $112,500 or less. The amount would decrease until you reach $146,500, at which point you wouldn’t be eligible. 

If you’re a married couple filing jointly without children and your AGI is below $150,000, you’d get a $2,400 payment. That amount would decrease until you hit $198,000, at which point you wouldn’t be eligible for a check. 

How can I figure out my AGI if I filed taxes in 2019?

If you filed your 2019 federal tax return, pull out your printed records or PDF. If you used tax-filing software like TurboTax or H&R Block, you should be able to log in to those accounts to find a copy of your return. 

You’ll find your AGI on line 8b of the 2019 1040 federal tax form. 

How do I find my AGI if I did not file taxes in 2019?

If you didn’t file federal taxes in 2019, you can find your AGI on your 2018 federal tax return. On the 2018 1040 federal tax form, it’s on line 7. 


An IRS 1040 Individual Income Tax form for the 2018 tax year. You’ll find your AGI on line 7.

Daniel Acker/Bloomberg/Getty Images

What if I don’t know where to find my federal tax return?

If you just can’t find your tax return, you can find your AGI in two ways:

Method 1: Go to the IRS’ Get Transcript portal and choose Get Transcript Online. You’ll need your Social Security number, date of birth, filing status and mailing address from your latest tax return. You’ll also need access to your email; your personal account number from a credit card, mortgage, home equity loan, home equity line of credit or car loan; and a mobile phone with your name on the account. Once your identity is verified, select the Tax Return Transcript and use only the Adjusted Gross Income line entry. You’ll be able to view or print your information here. 

Method 2: If you don’t have internet access or the necessary identity verification documents, you can use the Get Transcript portal and choose Get Transcript by Mail, or call 1-800-908-9946 to request a Tax Return Transcript. It takes about five to 10 days to be delivered to you. 

Does my AGI affect my dependents?

If your AGI makes you eligible for a stimulus check and you claim dependents on your taxes, you can expect your final stimulus payment to include money for your dependents, who are unable to claim a stimulus check for themselves.

The total sum you could get for each dependent is still undecided. The latest White House proposal would give $1,000 per child dependent, while two previous proposals earmarked $500 per dependent, regardless of age. Another bill wanted to deliver $1,200 per dependent, up to a maximum of three. 

For more information, find out if you’re qualified for a second stimulus check and when you could expect a second stimulus check. If you still haven’t gotten a first stimulus payment, you can track the status of your stimulus check, learn how to report your missing check to the IRS and find possible reasons why your stimulus check still hasn’t arrived

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