November 1, 2020
Second stimulus check for 2020: What's the most money you could receive? It depends

Will there be a second stimulus check soon? You could still receive $1,200 in 2020


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

Sarah Tew/CNET

Will you be getting a second stimulus check, and if so, how much will it be? While we don’t know for sure, we do know both sides of the aisle agree that another bill is still on the table and that it should include a second direct payment to help Americans pay for basic needs and fend off economic stagnation during the ongoing coronavirus recession

So, what happens now? In short, we wait. The Senate and House of Representatives both left for recess until September without finalizing how much financial assistance should be in the final stimulus package. It’s unlikely talks will resume this month — both the Democratic National Convention and the Republican National Convention are on the calendar, with the DNC starting Monday. 

But until then, we recommend brushing up on the key monetary caps and details that could help you start thinking about the size of the check you might receive — either for yourself alone, or including the members of your household. We update this story frequently.

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How much money could your entire household receive?

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 determining factor in 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, 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 biggest possible stimulus check your family could count on?

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 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.

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. 


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

James Martin/CNET

If a bill passes, how will your IRS stimulus payment 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. 

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

When will Congress finalize stimulus check plans?

That’s the trillion-dollar question. The Senate 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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