September 18, 2020
Stimulus check money: You and your family could get $1,200 or more with a second payment

Stimulus check money: You and your family may receive $1,200 or more with another relief payment


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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

 A second stimulus check for Americans was left out of the Republican-authored “skinny” coronavirus relief bill that died in the Senate on Thursday, but more stimulus money is still on the table if Congress can restart talks on a larger bill, or if it’s alternatively funded through executive action.

Another direct payment could bring as much as $1,200 per eligible adult and more for qualifying dependents who can’t get get their own stimulus check. Factors such as yearly income can help determine if the amount would be less or if you could get the maximum. Can a deal be reached? We’ll see.

“I’m optimistic,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told CNN on Friday. “I do think that we should have an agreement. That’s what we all want.” That’s a stark contrast with another evaluation, which leaves little chance of an agreement before the Nov. 3 election.

Keep reading for more information and check back on this story for regular updates. And if you’re one of roughly 9 million people who are owed a first stimulus check, find out how to claim it by Sept. 30.

Your total payment could exceed $1,200. Here’s how to calculate it

Piecing together how much stimulus money you and your family could receive can get tricky, but we’ll help you estimate. The $1,200 figure for individuals 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.


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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 from a second round of payments than from the first.

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

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

The most money your family could expect with a second check

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: Similarly 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 by the Senate, would place a cap of $6,000 on 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 the IRS could send your stimulus payment 

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, a payment that you can spend like cash on a debit card. The cards came in plain, unmarked envelopes.

How Americans used their first stimulus checks

A recent survey looked at how Americans are using their stimulus checks. According to research from the National Bureau of Economic Research:

  • 15% of recipients said they spent or would spend most of their checks.
  • 33% said they mostly saved.
  • 52% said they paid down debt.

In general, the report found that lower-income households were significantly more likely to spend their stimulus checks, higher-income individuals were more likely to save it and those with mortgages or who were renters were much more likely to pay off debt.

Looking for more stimulus check information? Read up on all the finer points of the stimulus payment here. 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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