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Sunday, January 17, 2021

You could still get $1,200 in a second stimulus check in 2020. Everything you need to know


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

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Sarah Tew

Following days of stalled negotiations for a second stimulus package, President Donald Trump on Saturday signed an executive order and three memoranda that are intended to help Americans with financial relief. And while his actions didn’t cover the direction for the second round of stimulus checks, there’s still reason to think new payments could come this year. If talks resume, the two sides would most likely pick up discussions for a second stimulus check and how much you and your family could receive in a second payment.

Both the White House and Democratic negotiators have been clear they support a second payment up to $1,200 per individual, with families receiving more if new eligibility requirements are signed into the new legislation.

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If another COVID-19 relief bill eventually passes, here’s the starting point for calculating your share of the second stimulus payment, including the upper limits that you and your family could expect. This story updates frequently to reflect the latest developments.

How much of the $1,200 second stimulus check could you get?

The Senate’s HEALS Act proposes an upper limit of $1,200 per qualified person, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to get it all. Your tax filing status is one of the factors that helps determine your share.

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. This new Republican plan would include $500 for dependents regardless of age, including children and adults you claim in your tax filings.

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

The calculations can be tricky, and they depend on aspects of your 2019 taxes, such as your adjusted gross income, or AGI, and whether you filed as single, married or head of household. We can’t say for sure that the figures above will match up to the IRS’ internal rubric, which were based on this calculator The Washington Post put together. 

But they could shed some light on what you might get if the HEALS Act were to pass as is.

What’s the biggest check your family might receive?

Depending on how negotiations shake out, the total amount your family gets may change. Here’s a look at the caps put in place by all three main proposals so far.

CARES Act: With the CARES Act from March, which has now expired, there was no limit on 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.

Heroes Act: The Heroes Act, put together by the Democratic-led House and which has never been taken up or nixed 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. 

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.


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

James Martin

How soon would the IRS get you your payment?

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. 

When will Congress reach an agreement on the stimulus check?

That’s the trillion-dollar (at least) question. Currently, the House is adjourned until Friday, Aug. 14, and sessions may not resume until Sept. 14 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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