Here’s what’s happening with a second stimulus check today.

Angela Lang/CNET

The path to a second stimulus check has zigged and zagged. As of Thursday, President Donald Trump indicated that he wants Congress to pursue a bill to send a second stimulus payment to qualifying Americans. It’s the latest stance in an erratic week that saw Trump attempt to calling off negotiations for a new stimulus bill and then re-establish talks to pass a broad economic relief package. Another direct payment for up to $1,200 is on the agenda.

Following a weekend hospitalization with COVID-19, Trump remains on the steroid dexamethasone, which is typically reserved for severely ill patients and has been known to cause side effects.

The President is, shall we say, in an altered state right now, so I don’t know how to answer for his behavior,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday. “We have a difference in money, but the difference in language is also something that we can, I believe, we can resolve.  It will take compromise, but that is what a negotiation is about.”

Stimulus checks are anything from simple, especially when it comes to qualifications, calculating your full estimate and figuring out how taxes fit in. We cut through the ever-changing chaos with takeaways you maybe didn’t know you should know. Here’s the latest status on stimulus talks and when we think the IRS could send a new check. We recently updated this story.

1. Top US leaders all want you to have another check

Since the first stimulus check began going out in April, there have been several proposals for additional stimulus — and they all include a second direct payment. Trump has been especially enthusiastic about delivering more checks to Americans.

While a new payment is wrapped up in a bill of one form or another that has to pass both chambers of Congress and get the president’s signature, this is one element on which they all agree.


High unemployment rates and a faltering economy underscore the need for more aid.

Angela Lang/CNET

2. The IRS could deliver stimulus funds to you faster

The IRS has already gone through the growing pains of figuring out how to mobilize and deliver one round of stimulus money. In theory, the agency could speed up the process of sending the first batch of payments, when and if they’re approved. The tracking tool is already up and running, the system is in place and it’s likely that the majority of people who qualified for a first check will also receive another.

The timeline is constantly shifting, but we mapped out potential dates a check could be sent if approved before — and after — the election.

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3. There are different priority groups for who gets their check first

Not everyone gets their checks at the same time and some of that comes down to how you’re getting paid. For example, direct deposit — an electronic transfer of funds into your bank account — could happen weeks before people start to receive a paper check or prepaid EIP card in the mail. We identified five priority groups based on the first stimulus checks.

4. A $1,200-per-person stimulus check is only half the story

The $1,200 maximum per person is a likely cap for a second stimulus payment, but there’s much more to know. Not everyone gets the full $1,200, and a dizzying set of rules decides your share. However, if qualifications expand, families could get more money in the second round.

5. A change in eligibility rules could bring in more than $1,200

While we think a second stimulus check would largely follow the same guidelines as the first, eligibility requirements are subject to change. It might even benefit your family, if a new stimulus bill redefines who counts as a qualifying dependent and gives your family $500 more for people you identify on your taxes.

6. You won’t pay taxes on the money no matter when it comes

The IRS doesn’t consider stimulus money to be income, and a payment you get this year won’t reduce your refund in 2021 or increase the amount you owe when you file your 2020 tax return. You also won’t have to repay part of your check if you qualify for a lower amount in 2021. The IRS said if you didn’t receive everything you were owed this year, you can claim it as a credit on your 2020 federal income tax return by filing in 2021. Here’s everything to know about stimulus checks and taxes.

7. You can already estimate your total stimulus sum

If you’re still waiting for your first payment or want to estimate how much a second check could include, our stimulus check calculator is here to help. Remember that the rules are complex and hinge on a variety of factors, like your AGI (here’s where to find it). Our calculator tool doesn’t retain your personal details in any way. 


Less than a quarter of eligible recipients received their payment as a check in the mail.

Sarah Tew/CNET

8. Payment details can get complicated, quick

When and if a second stimulus check does get approved, the details will require some unraveling. While some situations are straightforward, other complications about you and your dependents may make it unclear if you’re eligible and for how much. Fringe cases abound. 

For example:

There’s much more to know about other government payments during the pandemic. Here’s what you need to know about a possible interest check from the IRS, the $300 federal unemployment benefit and the administration’s payroll tax cut.



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