Due to the fun of some sudden life changes as well as Covid-19, I literally have no idea what my AGI will be for 2020, and therefore whether or not I may have to pay back the stimulus prepayment. There are a lot of "new" things this year and I don't know how any of them factor in. I'm going to try to keep this short.

  1. My salaried income is comfortably under the $150,000/year limit for the stimulus payment.
  2. I sold a house that I owned for 1.5 years. The "raw" profit would put my income over the $150,000/year limit, but sellers costs ate all of that in practice.
  3. In Q2 this year my company announced a 20% pay cut for the quarter
  4. However they gave that lost income back in stocks, which vest at the end of this year
  5. The company stock has already almost doubled, so that pay cut is now actually a raise. However, I'm not planning to sell the stock this year, so I'm not sure what year it will count as "income".
  6. In Q3 my salary was returned to normal, and of course no more stocks were given.

Based on my 2019 tax return (which I file online and have sent via direct deposit), the federal government was happy to automatically send me a stimulus check for my wife and me + 5 kids. At the time I didn't think much of it.

Now I'm realizing that, depending on how AGI is calculated, I am either comfortably under or well over the $150,000/yr salary limit. I'm used to how wages comes into play for these things, but the details of home sales and stock are completely new to me. I figure that the two extreme scenarios are:

  1. Only the profit of the home sale after selling costs counts towards AGI, and stock doesn't figure until I sell it so will show up on my income next year. In this case my AGI is well under the limit and I don't have to pay back the stimulus payment.
  2. The raw "profit" on the house counts towards AGI and so does the stock when it vests. In this case my AGI is well over the payback limit.

Of course reality might be somewhere in between. So to end with an actual question:

What "things" count towards my AGI this year, and therefore do I have to pay back the stimulus payment?

  • 1
    Them giving the stock to you and you selling the stock are two separate taxable events. Them giving the stock to you is considered wage income to you equal to the value of the stock (usually at the time it vests), since they saved you from paying that amount to buy the stock. Then, gains in the stock between when they gave it to you and when you sell it are capital gains, taxable when you sell it.
    – user102008
    Jul 21, 2020 at 17:46

2 Answers 2


Unless the law changes again, if they overpaid you based on the numbers on your 2018 or 2019 tax return, you don't have to refund the extra money. That was deemed an acceptable loss in order to get the money into people hands in the spring of 2020.

If on the other hand your 2020 return filed in spring 2021 shows that they underpaid you, you will get the additional funds when you file your tax return.

In my case I filed my 2019 return after getting the stimulus payment. If I had filed earlier, I would have received a smaller amount. I have checked, there is no provision in the law to ask for a refund of those extra funds.

Some people have to wait until the spring of 2021 to get their money. If you were a college student in 2019, and graduated in December 2019 then you were likely a dependent for 2019 and didn't get a stimulus payment in 2020, but based on your age neither did your parent. Now in 2020 you won't be a dependent, and will get the stimulus payment next spring when you file your 2020 tax return.

Compromises were made to get the funds out quickly. Don't worry about the stimulus payment, as long as the 2018 or 2019 taxes were submitted correctly.

  • 1
    This Q&A may be a record. Most detailed question whose details don't matter. For the check, I was in a similar situation. The 2019 return would have gotten me no check at all, but 2018 was low enough to get most of it. And I held off on filing 2019 till this month. Jul 21, 2020 at 13:24
  • That seems... weird... but hey, I guess I won't complain
    – conman
    Jul 21, 2020 at 13:24
  • 1
    @JTP-ApologisetoMonica lol, I'm okay with that
    – conman
    Jul 21, 2020 at 13:25
  • I'd just be inclined to change the punchline to "do I have to pay back the stimulus payment?" as the current "what is my AGI?" doesn't matter, fortunately. Jul 21, 2020 at 13:28
  • 3
    I would not object to removing the unnecessary details. The single posted correct answer will remain unchanged with your edit. The only time we hesitate at complete rewrites of the question is when many answers will then seem out of place. Jul 21, 2020 at 14:09
  1. Did you receive the Stimulus check in error?

  2. Did you receive more than the original amount given by the Federal Government?

  3. Are you not a Citizen or a green card holder of the USA?

  4. Are you not listed as a dependent?

  5. Were you incarcerated when the stimulus check was sent to you?

If you answered no to questions 1 through 5 THEN you will not need to pay it back as currently the IRS has stated you will not need to pay back the stimulus checks as they are intended to stimulate the economy.

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