November 25, 2020
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Stimulus check Round 2: Would you qualify for a second payment? It’s complicated


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Just because you got a stimulus check the first time doesn’t mean you’ll qualify for the second, if there is one.


Sarah Tew/CNET

This much is clear: the Senate and House will decide this month if Americans will get a second stimulus check. But how much money you might receive and — crucially — if you would even meet the requirements for a second payment, are very much open to discussion, assuming a new check for individuals and families is written into the next rescue package.

Here, we’ll tell you everything we have heard so far about who may or may not be eligible for an extra economic impact payment. 

The pressure is on for Washington lawmakers to begin crafting a second economic rescue package soonCOVID-19 cases are skyrocketing in 45 US states, prompting many of them to pause reopening and in some cases even backtrack, with bars closing in Los Angeles, Florida, Texas and Pennsylvania. That’s a blow to an economy already in recession and to business owners and employees who can’t run their operations or work. 

Meanwhile, benefits such as delayed eviction and enhanced unemployment are scheduled to wind down this month, unless the government takes action. If that action includes a second stimulus check, here’s the current discussion on who might or might not get one. In short, it’s complicated and everything is up in the air. The situation and this story are updated often.


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Who isn’t eligible for a stimulus check today?

Before looking at who might be eligible for a second stimulus check, let’s review who’s been excluded in the first round.

  • A single taxpayer with an adjusted gross income above $99,000
  • A head of a household with an AGI over $136,500
  • A married couple with an AGI over $198,000
  • Children over 16 and college students under age 24
  • A nonresident alien as defined by the US government
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Not everyone will qualify for a payment under the current proposal.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Who gets another stimulus payment? The big picture

We won’t know until another rescue bill is made official, but we can put some pieces together to get a sense of the possibilities. For example, the Heroes Act (PDF) passed by the House of Representatives in May proposes broad financial benefits to individuals, families and categories that were skipped by the first stimulus check, including most college students and people who aren’t US citizens.

But the Heroes Act has been strenuously opposed by the Senate and President Donald Trump, who called it DOA. On the other end of the spectrum, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said that if his chamber passes another relief bill that includes more stimulus checks, the focus will be narrow.

Some suggest that if there is a second stimulus payment, it should be targeted to people in most urgent need. That would mean far fewer people would receive a check or bank account deposit from the IRS.

There aren’t any confirmed details yet. For now, here are some possible scenarios for who may or may not be eligible, drawn from the Heroes Act and comments by White House and Senate leaders. Consider these speculative and not a matter of fact. Here’s additional information about the proposals and how much money you might get.

Who could potentially qualify for a broad second stimulus payment?

  • Individuals who made less than $99,000 according to the adjusted gross income from their 2018 or 2019 taxes (whichever was most recently filed).
  • College students, dependents over 17, disabled relatives and a taxpayer’s parent.  
  • Families of up to five people.
  • SSDI recipients
  • People who aren’t US citizens and file tax returns, pay taxes and otherwise comply with federal tax law using an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN) instead of a Social Security number.

Who might not qualify for a second payment?

Based on speculation, there are some different ways exclusion from a potential second stimulus check could play out.

Nobody qualifies: A stimulus package could be signed into law that gives tax credits and other incentives to businesses. It’s possible some people could get a travel or dining credit, but not a check.

People who make “too much” money: If another round of stimulus payments does pass, but allocations are smaller for IRS payments, it’s possible there could be a lower maximum yearly income (AGI on the tax form) to qualify. In other words, people who make more than a certain amount (that’s lower than the current cutoff of $99,000 for individuals) could potentially be left out of a second round.

Carryover exclusions from the current CARES Act: Young people between 18 and 24, people who aren’t US citizens but pay taxes, people who are incarcerated.

President Donald Trump

President Trump has expressed interest in a second round of checks in 2020.


James Martin/CNET

When will we know more about stimulus check qualifications?

We won’t know anything for sure until a stimulus bill comes into clearer focus. You can read more about the suspected timeline here, but in general, here’s what we know.

Senator McConnell has said several times — most recently on June 30 — if the Senate starts work on a second package, it will be this month. To fit into McConnell’s timeline, legislators will have to work around several extended breaks when the Senate is not in session: a scheduled two-week recess from July 3 until July 17 and its August recess running Aug. 10 to Sept. 7. 

For more, here’s what we know about the major proposals for a second stimulus package. We also have information on unemployment insurance, what you can do if you’ve lost your job and what to know about evictions.



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