We’re Probably Getting a Second Stimulus Check. 4 Big Questions We Have

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One thing that appears likely in the next coronavirus relief bill: a second round of stimulus checks.

You read that right. More cash from the government is (probably) coming.

Republicans have yet to release their version of a new stimulus bill. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell confirmed this week that the GOP plan will include more stimulus checks, although he didn’t discuss specifics.

“Speaking of building on what worked in the CARES Act, we want another round of direct payments, direct payments to help American families keep driving our national comeback,” McConnell said.

4 Big Questions We Have About the Next Stimulus Check

The truth is that no one knows what a second stimulus check will look like right now. But based on what we saw during the first round of stimulus checks and the debate in recent weeks about how to provide additional relief, these are the big issues we’ll be watching.

Will the next round of stimulus checks have a lower income limit?

In the first round of payments, single adults with incomes of $75,000 or less and married couples earning up to $150,000 received the full stimulus check of $1,200 per person or $2,400 per couple. Those with higher incomes had their benefits phased out by 5 cents for every dollar they earned above those thresholds. 

McConnell said earlier this month at an event in Kentucky that the next stimulus package would be targeted at people making less than $40,000 a year, who have been hit hardest by the pandemic. Many interpreted that comment to mean that stimulus checks would only go to people with incomes under $40,000, though McConnell never explicitly said that.

One problem with limiting checks to people with lower incomes: The payments would most likely be based on 2019 tax returns, which wouldn’t reflect the millions of jobs lost to coronavirus.

2. How much would we get in another round of stimulus checks?

Democrats have called for $1,200 stimulus checks for adults and children, with a cap of $6,000 per family. In the first round of payments, parents received a $500 credit for each child 16 and younger.

Republicans haven’t said how much money they’re proposing for stimulus checks.


3. Would people left out by the first payments be eligible for this round?

The CARES Act didn’t include $1,200 payments for adults claimed as dependents on someone else’s tax return. It also limited the $500 child credit to kids 16 and younger.

As a result, many students ages 17 to 23, elderly people and people with disabilities didn’t get stimulus checks. 

The payments were also limited to people with Social Security numbers. That meant that millions of undocumented immigrants didn’t receive payments. More than 1 million U.S. citizens who filed a joint tax return with undocumented spouses couldn’t get payments either.

While we’re still awaiting the details of the Republican proposal, Democrats want to provide $1,200 for adult dependents and children. They would also allow people who are in the U.S. illegally but pay taxes using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number to receive payments.

4. How quickly could we get the next stimulus checks?

The IRS sent out the first 80 million or so stimulus payments less than three weeks after the CARES Act passed — and that was while staff was operating remotely. 

While millions of other people had trouble receiving and tracking their payments, the IRS has fixed some hurdles. For example, it built the non-filer tool to allow people who don’t have to file tax returns to submit their information and fixed some bugs with the Get My Payment feature that blocked many people from tracking their checks.

So the IRS timeline for payments would probably be similar to or even faster than it was for the first round.

The trillion-dollar question: How long will we have to wait on Congress to pass it?

Democrats and Republicans have many hot-button issues to negotiate, including the $600 weekly unemployment bonus that expires this week, a payroll tax cut that President Trump is pushing for and funds for school reopening.

Congress has until Aug. 7 to pass a bill before it goes on recess until September. If they don’t reach an agreement by then, we’re in for a long wait.

What if I Haven’t Gotten My First Stimulus Payment?

The stimulus check deadline is Oct. 15 for people who aren’t required to file taxes. If you don’t register with the IRS using the non-filer tool by that point, you could miss out on your cash.

If you’ve filed your taxes or submitted your information through the non-filer feature, it’s time to take action. Here’s what you need to do to initiate a payment trace with the IRS.

In some circumstances, you may have to wait until next year and file a tax return to get your stimulus money. For example, if you were claimed as a dependent in 2019 but can’t be claimed for this year, you could still get stimulus money in 2021. Parents of children born in 2020 and, in some cases 2019, will also have to wait to get the $500 child credits with next year’s refund.

Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and a senior editor at The Penny Hoarder. She writes the Dear Penny personal finance advice column. Send your tricky money questions to [email protected].