This is my update for Tuesday, January Fifth.
I’m really focused on the Georgia elections today because as we’ve said before, this election is the single most important factor right now in determining if there is a next stimulus payment, its size, and when it happens.
In fact, that’s exactly what Joe Biden said yesterday in Atlanta while campaigning for the Democratic challengers in Georgia, Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff.
He said, “If you send Jon and the Reverend to Washington, those two-thousand-dollar checks will go out the door, restoring hope and decency and honor for so many people who are struggling right now. And if you send [the Republicans] back to Washington, those checks will never get there. It’s just that simple. The power is literally in your hands.”
But before we get into the Georgia elections, I want to answer a stimulus question from Jason Duncan on Twitter, Jason asked me, “Logan, I have a question. I live in Kentucky and my daughter has a friend who is seventeen and was legally emancipated. Can she file taxes and claim the stimulus for herself. She is not claimed as a dependent and she worked 9 months of the year in 2020? Any info would be great.”
Here’s what I told Jason: Assuming she really cannot be claimed as a dependent in twenty-twenty since she provided more than half of her own support during the year — and housing is obviously the big one, to not be eligible to be claimed as a dependent in 2020, I’m assuming that she lived on her own and paid for her own housing and everything throughout most of 2020, probably this nine-month period you’re referring to, because if her parents provided more than half of her support during the year, and that includes the cost of putting a roof over her head, then she can’t be claimed as a dependent — but assuming that’s not the case, assuming she provided more than half of her own support in twenty-twenty, which it sounds like she has, and she’s not eligible to be claimed as a dependent in twenty-twenty, then yes, it sounds like she is eligible to claim a Recovery Rebate Credit for eighteen hundred dollars on her twenty-twenty tax return, even if her parents claimed her as a dependent in twenty-nineteen when she was sixteen and still a dependent and received stimulus payments of eleven hundred for her.
In fact, the FAQs on the IRS website, while not addressing this specific situation, certainly envisions the possibility of someone previously claimed as a dependent receiving their own Recovery Rebate Credit on their twenty-twenty tax return if they cannot be claimed as a dependent in twenty-twenty.
And there is nothing in the Internal Revenue Code Section Sixty-Four-Twenty-Eight, which is the original stimulus, or in the text of the new stimulus bill, relevant portion is Internal Revenue Code Section Sixty-Four-Twenty-Eight-A, or in the Recovery Rebate Credit worksheet in the draft Form 1040 instructions for Twenty-Twenty that preclude one from claiming a Recovery Rebate Credit on their twenty-twenty tax return simply because they were claimed as a dependent in twenty-nineteen.
The reduction to the credit is for stimulus payments you received yourself, not stimulus payments paid to someone who claimed you as a dependent in a prior tax year. This might seem counterintuitive and against the “no double dipping” principle that we’re used to when dealing with the IRS, but remember with these stimulus payments they’re being pretty generous, even if you got more than you were entitled to for example, there’s no clawback.
So Jason, I would say, yes, based on what we can see at this time in the tax code, in the 1040 instructions, on the Recovery Rebate Credit worksheet, this individual you are referring to sounds like she’s eligible to claim an eighteen hundred dollar Recovery Rebate Credit on her twenty twenty tax return assuming she’s otherwise eligible, beneath the income limits and all that. If you have a stimulus question, let me know in the comments, just FYI, I do focus on the more interesting questions that haven’t been answered all over the web, like, how much is the stimulus, you can Google that, but Jason’s question here, I Googled it, “emancipated children” and “stimulus”, and literally nothing came up, so that’s why I picked his question to feature here because it’s unique and hasn’t been answered elsewhere as far as I know.
Now on to the Georgia runoffs, what what should we know about this election that pits Republican David Perdue, whose Senate term actually ended on Sunday, against Jon Ossoff and Republican incumbent Senator Kelly Loeffler against Reverend Raphael Warnock.
If Democrats win both races, the Senate split is fifty-fifty with the Vice President, Kamala Harris, being the tiebreaking vote in cases of a fifty-fifty vote split. If Republicans win at least one race, they maintain control of the Senate, and Mitch McConnell is Senate Majority Leader again, and just like we saw at the end of the last Congress he will likely be opposed to putting big stimulus checks on the Senate Floor without mixing them with what Democrats perceive to be poison pills. In terms of polling, polls opened this morning at seven A.M. Eastern Time and voting locations will start closing at seven P.M.
If you’re in Georgia and you’re watching this, if you are in line by seven P.M., you have the right to vote, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, because lines are a problem in these big cities like Atlanta, in the state’s primary election in June, it was past midnight by the time the last voters cast their ballot despite having been in line since at least seven P.M. at the latest.
In the general election, some voters in Atlanta, Fulton County, and other places, waited as long as eight hours to vote. Democrats are obviously hoping for big numbers in the larger cities like Atlanta, while Republicans are looking to the more rural areas, no surprises there.
When will we know the results of the Georgia Senate races? Well, theoretically, we could know by late tonight, but frankly, these races look like they’re going to be pretty darn tight, and it could take days to count all the ballots with more than three million Georgians having voted early, and by Georgia law, those ballots can’t start being counted until the polls close tonight, and of course just like in the general election, we expect those early vote ballots to lean Democratic.
And keep in mind that the polls that we’ve been looking at, which have tended to favor the Democratic candidates, the polls for runoffs are incredibly difficult to do because turnout patterns in runoffs are different and inconsistent and more difficult to predict than in the general presidential elections or even the typical midterm elections.
And of the sixteen pollsters that conducted surveys in this race, none used the gold standard live-interviewer phone polling methods that are used by the top pollsters for general elections. This is all to say that anything can happen today.
Now let’s talk briefly about the Electoral College count in Congress. Tomorrow Congress will hold a joint session to count the Electoral College votes, and at least thirteen Republican senators, including Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley as well as Kelly Loeffler, who is defending her Georgia seat today, Perdue probably would have supported it but his term technically expired on Sunday, these folks along with more than one hundred House Republicans want to challenge the election results in battleground states.
This group of Republicans wants to suspend the counting of the Electoral College votes in Congress so that the results in battleground states can be further reviewed. But most Republican members of Congress see this challenge as a fool’s errand.
Republican Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska said, “This is not healthy for the Republican Party. This is bad for the country and bad for the party.” The number two Republican Senator, John Thune, said the effort to challenge the election will go down like a “shot dog.”
Other Republican Senators who are opposed to Ted Cruz’s election challenge include Richard Shelby of Alabama, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Richard Burr of North Carolina, and Tom Cotton of Arkansas, and Roy Blunt of Missouri, Roy Blunt said, “I don’t think either of the two efforts has any chance for success, and I actually like to come up with plans that have a chance of being successful.”
And Pat Toomey said that this effort by Cruz and Hawley “undermines” the “right of the people to elect their own leaders.”
McConnell doesn’t want this either. He doesn’t like it when members of his caucus in the Senate take controversial positions on things that could make undecided voters shy away from the Republican party in the next cycle.
But oftentimes senators do not have the same goals in mind as their party leaders.
For example, Josh Hawley, young, at forty-one in fact the youngest senator right now, he’s ambitious, likely having presidential ambitions, and likes to make waves, both with reaching across the aisle to Bernie Sanders for two-thousand-dollar stimulus checks, and now getting his name in the news again with this election issue. And now? Everybody knows his name.
And this is all, of course, before the backdrop of Trump’s call with the Georgia Secretary of State asking him to essentially give him more votes that would put him over Biden with Democrats like the Number Two Senate Democrat Dick Durbin calling for a criminal investigation, Durbin said of Trump, “His disgraceful effort to intimidate an elected official into deliberately changing and misrepresenting the legally confirmed vote totals in his state strikes at the heart of our democracy and merits nothing less than a criminal investigation.”
And Chuck Schumer infamously two days ago retweeting an article about Trump’s call and saying, “Hey Ted Cruz and his gang, you want to investigate election fraud? Start with this.”