Whatever your AGI is makes all the difference when it comes to your stimulus check, Child Tax Credit and your taxes too. We’ll show you where to find it.

Sarah Tew/CNET

What do your $1,400 stimulus check, tax refund and $3,600 Child Tax Credit Credit all have in common? Your adjusted gross income, or AGI. This magic number is the key to whether you get all the possible money you can from the new $1.9 trillion stimulus bill, some of it, or none at all. The same goes for all the other tax breaks for parents and older adults, too. In each case, the qualifications come down to how much money you earned in 2020 (or 2019, in many stimulus check cases).

But it isn’t enough to add up your salary or pay stubs for the year. That’s the adjusted part of your AGI. There are many conditions that could offset your gross, or total, income for the year, including major tax write-offs or deductions, like if you’re self-employed and write off a portion of your home as a business expense. (Here’s why that doesn’t apply to everyone who worked from home because of COVID-19, though.) Other factors, like investment income, also play a role.

To fully qualify for the Child Tax Credit, for example, single filers must have an AGI under $75,000 with married couples having an AGI lower than $150,000. But if you can’t just go by total income alone, how do you calculate your AGI, and what exactly does it entail? What do you do if if you don’t usually file taxes, for example, if you receive SSI, SSDI or veterans benefits. What if you’re over age 65 or retired? We’ll help you figure out what your AGI is, how to find it and how it helps determine how much you might owe or be owed in taxes, stimulus checks and the child tax credit

What is my AGI and how does it affect my stimulus check, tax refund and Child Tax Credit? 

Your AGI, or adjusted gross income, is the amount calculated from your total income the IRS uses 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 (such as 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, which you can find on line 11 on this year’s form.

Since it’s a rough estimate of how much money you’re bringing in after deductions from all your streams of income, the IRS used your AGI to calculate how much you get in a stimulus check, tax refund (or how much you might owe) and in the upcoming 2021 Child Tax Credit.

Now playing:
Watch this:

Stimulus check No. 3: What you need to know


How do I find the AGI qualifications for the CTC, all 3 stimulus payments and my 2020 taxes?

Here’s where to find specific information about AGI eligibility for the following programs:

Stimulus checks 1, 2 and 3

Child Tax Credit 2021

Tax return 2020

How can I use my AGI to find out how much money I could get in a third stimulus check?

A third stimulus check could bring $1,400 per qualified person, but the new bill crucially has different eligibility rules, which help determine how much your family gets. Your AGI, however, will still likely be the determining factor for how much the IRS will owe you, along with your filing status (single versus joint) and how many dependents you have

We have a calculator to help you determine how much money you could get in a third stimulus check. (You can also use our calculators for the first and second stimulus checks as well, if you’re going to claim missing money on your tax return this year.) For the third round of payments, assuming you meet all the qualifications, single taxpayers with an AGI under $75,000 will be eligible to receive the full amount of $1,400 per person and dependent. 

As your AGI goes up, the amount you can get decreases. And because the third check will be more targeted than the first two rounds, single taxpayers with an AGI over $80,000 will not be eligible for any stimulus money this time around, down from a $99,000 cutoff for the first check, and $87,000 for the second check. 

My AGI changed on my 2020 taxes. How might that impact stimulus checks, the CTC and more?

Since your AGI is calculated from all your sources of income for the year, it can fluctuate based on a wide range of factors, including if you got a raise or lost a job; if you sold a house, got a bonus or received an inheritance; or if you lost or gained money in the stock market. 

Your income eligibility for a third stimulus check will be based on either your 2019 or 2020 taxes — whichever the IRS has on file more recently. The IRS used the most recently filed tax return to distribute the first stimulus check (either 2018 or 2019), so there’s a precedent there. For stimulus checks, there may be several implications. For example, if you earned more in 2020 than in 2019, but the IRS uses your 2019 return (and gives you more stimulus money than you might be eligible for), you won’t have to return that money.

For the 2021 Child Tax Credit, how much money you get depends on the age of your child dependents and your AGI — you’ll get less money per child if you made a certain amount in 2020.

How does my AGI impact my dependents for stimulus checks?

If your AGI makes you eligible for a stimulus check and you claim dependents on your taxes, your first stimulus check should have included up to $500, and your second stimulus check up to $600, per qualified dependent, since they were unable to claim a stimulus check for themselves. There was no cap on the number of dependents you could claim under 17 years old.

The third stimulus check changes the rules: It expands the definition of a dependent for stimulus checks to include those over age 16, as well as older adult relatives. The proposal also allocates up to $1,400 per dependent, added on to the household’s total. Finally, if you hit the maximum AGI to qualify for a new stimulus check, it means you won’t receive any money. In previous checks, having children meant you could potentially receive a partial payment. Here’s everything to know about dependents and stimulus checks


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

How do I find my AGI on my 2020 tax return? 

When you file your 2020 tax return, you’ll enter your AGI on line 11 on Form 1040 and 1040-SR. 

How do I find my AGI on my 2019 tax return?

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. It’s on line 11 on the 2020 form.

What if I can’t find my previous federal tax returns?

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. 

For more information, find out the most important stimulus check facts to know now and when a third stimulus check could arrive.

Tagged as:

Job Overview

Sign in

Sign Up

Forgotten Password