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Hawaii News | Kokua Line

Kokua Line: High income won’t affect stimulus paid already

Question: This may not be typical, but I made a lot more money last year than the year before because of overtime. I was never furloughed. Our office is busy. The latest stimulus payment was by far the biggest for us, so now I am wondering: Am I going to have to pay it back when I file my taxes and they see how much more money I made in 2020 than in 2019?

Answer: No, and you are not alone in asking this question. There’s been an economic divide during the pandemic, between workers in tourism-dependent jobs who lost income early and in many cases have yet to bounce back, and employees in other industries and in government jobs who kept right on working. We’ve heard from quite a few working for the county and state government who say they racked up significant overtime pay and continue to in 2021.

But back to your question. The Internal Revenue Service says that “there is no provision in the law that would require individuals who qualify for a Third Economic Impact Payment or an additional payment based on their 2020 or 2019 information, to pay back all or part of the payment if, based on the information reported on their 2021 tax returns, they would have qualified for a lesser amount.”

Simply put: No, you won’t have to pay it back, even if your adjusted gross income exceeded $150,000, which is the maximum a married couple filing jointly can make and qualify for the full EIP3 amount. The EIP3 phases out at higher incomes, reaching zero at $160,000 for couples filing jointly.

Also, to answer other readers: None of the three rounds of EIP are taxable income.

We’ve heard from numerous readers surprised by the size of their EIP3 compared with previous rounds. At $1,400 the basic payment is larger, and the same amount is being paid to a broader pool of dependents. So an eligible family of four, for example, would receive $5,600. The payments for dependents were smaller in the first two rounds, and they were limited to dependents under age 17.

Q: Last time, I got the stimulus money for my husband even though he died early last year. Will that happen again?

A: No, it shouldn’t. A third-round Economic Impact Payment “won’t be issued for someone who has died before Jan. 1, 2021. If you filed a joint return in 2020 and your spouse died before Jan. 1, 2021, the decedent will not be included in the calculation of the third payment. You as the surviving spouse, if eligible, will be issued up to $1,400 for you and $1,400 for any qualifying dependents,” the Internal Revenue Service says on its website.

The law authorizing the EIP3 specifies that people who died in 2020 aren’t eligible for the payment.

Otherwise eligible people who died this year (2021) are authorized to receive the payment, which means that surviving spouses who receive the money in those cases don’t have to return it.

Q: What are we supposed to do if we sent in the paperwork and check as required but we have heard absolutely nothing back? This is for the driver’s license, and we are eligible to renew by mail because we are over 72 and met all the other rules.

A: A backlog persists in Honolulu County, where it takes six to eight weeks to process a driver’s license renewal by mail (as you indicated, only certain drivers are eligible for this service.) The Department of Customer Services says applicants who have heard nothing after eight weeks should email Besides your name and contact information, be sure to include your driver’s license number.

E kala mai

A sincere apology to the pedestrian at Koko Head and Waialae Avenue on Tuesday afternoon. I did not see you until I was halfway in the crosswalk right in front of you. I am so glad that you were very alert, as opposed to my inattention. — Rueful driver


Mahalo to the man who picks up rubbish every day while walking in Kapahulu. We see you and we appreciate you. — Kupuna household

Write to Kokua Line at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or email

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