January 27, 2021
Second stimulus check for 2020: What's the most money you could receive? It depends

Stimulus check money: You might still get a $1,200 payment in 2020


Start finding out the maximum payment that could end up in your pocket if another stimulus package comes your way.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Both sides of the aisle hope that a new coronavirus stimulus relief bill, or at least a scaled-down package to include another stimulus check, will pass soon. But the clock is ticking.

“Federal support is crucial,” Michael Gapen, the lead US economist for Barclays, told New York Times. “The longer negotiations stall, the more likely there will be a hiccup in spending.” Gapen added that it will be “okay” if a deal can be finalized by September.

“If the economy has to wait until to the end of September, it will come to a virtual standstill between now and then, and [be] vulnerable to anything else that goes wrong,” Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, told Bloomberg. “And given that we are in the middle of a pandemic, there is a lot that can go wrong.”

You might still get a second stimulus check this year, if both Democrats and Republicans can agree to a final deal. Below, we lay out scenarios for how much you and your dependents could receive and which factors could impact you getting any money at all. We update this story frequently.

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Would you get the full $1,200? How to start calculating

The Senate’s HEALS Act from July proposed an upper limit of $1,200 per qualified person, but that doesn’t mean you’d get it all. Your tax filing status — specifically your adjusted gross income, or AGI — is the biggest factor in determining how much stimulus money you could receive. 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?

There’s potentially good news there. 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 HEALS Act 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, your dependents and whether you filed as single, married or head of household. The figures below were based on this calculator The Washington Post put together and 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 most amount of stimulus money your household could receive?

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. 


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

James Martin/CNET

If a bill passes, how a new IRS stimulus payment would arrive

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. 

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

When will Congress finalize the second stimulus check plans?

That’s the trillion-dollar question. The Senate adjourned until after Labor Day, with sessions not originally planned to resume until Sept. 8. However, on Sunday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the House to return from its break early to vote on legislation to bolster the US Postal Service later this week. Senate Republicans said Monday that they would also introduce a new coronavirus relief bill prior to this that includes funding for the USPS as well. At this point, it doesn’t seem like this bill will include stimulus check payments, but it hasn’t been released yet, so we don’t know for sure. 

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 is lost or has fallen through the cracks and if you could receive two refund checks from the IRS.

Shelby Brown and Alison DeNisco Rayome contributed to this report.

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