September 24, 2020
Stimulus check money: A $1,200 relief payment (or more) could still arrive in 2020

Stimulus check money: A $1,200 relief payment (or bigger) could still arrive in 2020


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We help you calculate the maximum amount that could end up in your pocket if another stimulus payment comes your way.


Angela Lang/CNET

Is it time to give up hope for a second stimulus check in 2020? Not yet. After the Senate returns from recess on Sept. 8, talks to pass another economic rescue package and send eligible Americans another direct payment could resume. Complicating matters in the near term is a much narrower stimulus bill that Senate Republicans plan to unveil in order to target a few key areas that could spur Democrats to reach a deal. It’s also possible President Donald Trump could sign an executive order to send stimulus checks without an act of Congress

With support from the House of Representatives, the Senate, the White House and Americans surveyed on the topic, more stimulus money is still very much part of the national conversation on and off Capitol Hill. If both sides of the aisle can find common ground and compromise soon, it’s widely believed that up to $1,200 in stimulus money could still come your way — perhaps even more, if you have dependents who meet the eligibility requirements.

Below, we can help you calculate how much money you and your family could possibly get, based on parameters such as adjusted gross income. This story updates often.

Will you receive the whole $1,200 payment? How to calculate

Calculating how much stimulus money you and your family could get isn’t at all straightforward. But we’ll help you estimate the amount you could receive, in two ways. The $1,200 figure is based on guidelines from the last stimulus bill and two proposals, and uses your adjusted gross income, or AGI and a set of rules to determine the total you could personally expect.

But there are also allowances for your whole family, including up to $2,400 if you file jointly with your spouse, as well as more money for dependents. In the first stimulus check, only dependents aged 16 or younger could qualify for an extra $500 each toward the family total. There’s bipartisan support to include more people this time, which means you could potentially receive more in a second check than in the first. Here’s everything we know about possible qualifications for another direct payment.

We lay out some potential scenarios below, based on our stimulus check calculator, which you can also use to see a more specific estimate. 

Stimulus check calculations

Scenario 1 Scenario 2 Scenario 3 Scenario 4 Scenario 5
Filing status Single Head of household Married Married Married
2018 or 2019 tax AGI $75,000 $90,000 $100,000 $100,000 $200,000
Dependents under 17 (CARES Act) 0 1 2 2 2
Dependents over 17 (HEALS Act) 0 0 0 2 0
Estimated check amount $1,200 $1,700 $3,400 $4,400 $900

Maximum amount of stimulus money your family could expect

Depending on how negotiations shake out, the total amount your family may get could 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 to the number of children who could count as dependents, as long as they were under 17 and claimed by the taxpayer on the 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.

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.

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. 

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The amount of stimulus money you could get in a second round of checks is still undecided. 


James Martin/CNET

How your IRS stimulus payment could reach you

While there’s no official plan yet, it’s likely that receiving this second stimulus check would work much like it did the first time around. 

Direct deposit: If you filed taxes in 2018 or 2019 and included direct-deposit banking information, it’s likely you can receive your check as a direct deposit. Even if you didn’t file your direct deposit information with the IRS during tax season, you should still be able to opt in. If you asked for an extension on your taxes, you can still file them before the Oct. 15, 2020, deadline and choose to share your direct deposit information with the IRS. If another round of stimulus payments is authorized, the IRS is likely to reopen the online tool it used for the first round and let you log your information then.

A paper check in the mail: If you don’t register your banking details with the IRS, you’ll likely receive a paper check in the mail, which you can deposit or cash. If you’ve recently moved, make sure to file your change-of-address paperwork. The IRS will use your last known address, which could hold up delivery of your check or otherwise cause a delay.

EIP card: Under the CARES Act, about 4 million people were also sent money in the form of a prepaid economic impact payment card, which you can spend like cash. The cards came in plain, unmarked envelopes.

Read up on all the finer points of the stimulus payment here.

What’s happening now with the second stimulus check decision?

That’s the trillion-dollar question. The Senate is adjourned and doesn’t plan to resume sessions until Sept. 8. Senate Republicans said they hope to vote on a “skinny” coronavirus stimulus package called the Delivering Immediate Relief to America’s Families, Schools and Small Businesses Act that week, which includes money for the USPS, along with $300 in weekly unemployment benefits — similar to an executive action signed by President Donald Trump. However, the draft of this proposed package does not include funding for a second round of stimulus checks. 

Here’s more on how the timeline could play out if a bill is passed, 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 was 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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