September 18, 2020
Second stimulus check for 2020: What's the most money you could receive? It depends

Second stimulus check in 2020? Yes, you might still get $1,200 this year


With another stimulus package still on the table, how much money could end up in your pocket?

Sarah Tew/CNET

Is a second stimulus check still in the works, and is the $1,200 total in jeopardy? It’s hard to know exactly what will happen now that two weeks of stalled negotiations between the Republican and Democratic leaders have gone by, but both sides have indicated that another bill is still on the table — and they all agree a second direct payment is essential.

The Senate and House of Representatives have officially adjourned until September without an agreement on how much needs to be spent on the stimulus package. It’s unlikely talks will resume in August, especially with the Democratic National Convention and Republican National Convention on the calendar, with the DNC starting on Monday.

The amount of money you and your family could get if another COVID-19 relief bill eventually passes isn’t yet determined, but we have a starting point for calculating your share of the second stimulus payment, including the upper limits you could expect for your household. This story updates frequently to reflect the most recent developments.

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How much money could your entire household get?

The Senate’s HEALS Act from July proposed an upper limit of $1,200 per qualified person, but that doesn’t mean you’d be able to get it all. Your tax filing status — specifically your adjusted gross income, or AGI — is one of the factors that helps determine your share. Let’s say you’re personally eligible for the full $1,200 (read up more on income limit qualifications here), but what about the rest of your family?

The first stimulus check, part of the bipartisan CARES Act, left out child dependents who were 17 or older and college students under 24 years old. The Republican plan would include $500 for dependents regardless of age, including children and adults you claim in your tax filings.

The calculations can be tricky, since they take into account your income, dependents and whether you filed as single, married or head of household. We can’t say for sure that the figures above will match up to the IRS’ internal rubric, which were based on this calculator The Washington Post put together

But they could shed some light on what you might get if the HEALS Act were to pass as is.

Stimulus check calculations

Scenario 1 Scenario 2 Scenario 3 Scenario 4
Filed 2019 taxes? Yes Yes No No
Filing status Single Head of household Married Married
2018 or 2019 tax AGI $80,000 $140,000 $130,000 $130,000
Dependents under 17 (CARES Act) 0 1 2 2
Dependents over 17 (HEALS Act) 0 0 0 2
Calculated check amount $950 $1,325 $3,400 $4,400

What’s the absolute limit your family might receive?

Depending on how negotiations shake out, the total amount your family gets may change. Here’s a look at the caps put in place to give you an idea of what government leaders are thinking.

CARES Act: With the CARES Act from March, there was no limit on the number of children who could count as dependents, as long as they were under 17 and claimed by the taxpayer on their tax return, according to the Tax Foundation. Each dependent would garner the taxpayer $500. Theoretically, a family in which two adults and six children under 17 were eligible for the full amount could receive $5,400.

Heroes Act: The Heroes Act, put together by the Democratic-led House and which has never been taken up or vetoed by the Senate, would place a cap of $6,000 for households of five or more. Essentially, it proposes $1,200 for each adult and dependent, with a maximum of three dependents per family. 

HEALS Act: Similar to the CARES Act, the HEALS Act put forth by Republicans doesn’t mention a cap on the amount a family may receive. The difference is that it doesn’t limit dependents to those under 17 to qualify for the $500 payment.


How much stimulus money you could get in August is still undecided.

James Martin/CNET

How will the IRS get your payment to you if a bill passes?

While there’s no official plan yet, it’s likely that receiving this second stimulus check will work much like it did the first time around. If you filed taxes in 2018 or 2019 and included direct deposit information, it’s likely you can receive your check as a direct deposit. If not, you could get it in the mail as a paper check. Under the CARES Act, some people were also sent money in the form of a prepaid “economic impact payment” card, or EIP. 

Brush up on all the finer points of the stimulus check here.

When will Congress reach an agreement on the stimulus check?

That’s the trillion-dollar (at least) question. The Senate is adjourned until after Labor Day, so sessions may not resume until Sept. 8 unless an agreement is made before then. Still, there could be an opportunity to craft a bill that includes stimulus checks, which has bipartisan support. Here’s more on the timeline, including when the IRS could send the first checks.

If you’re still waiting for your first stimulus check, here are 10 possible reasons for a delaywhat you can do if you think your payment is lost or has fallen through the cracks and if you could receive two refund checks from the IRS.

Shelby Brown contributed to this report.

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