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

Angela Lang/CNET

It’s been an eventful week as conflicting directives issued by President Donald Trump have continued to alter the course of the next stimulus check

On Tuesday, Trump, who’s taking the steroid dexamethasone after being hospitalized for COVID-19, first called for a halt to negotiations  and then demanded that they restart — all in the same day. On Friday, the president said he wants a larger stimulus bill than the Democrats and Republicans, which stands in contrast to the White House’s latest $1.8 trillion offer. The package, which now seems more certain the the standalone bills Trump initiated late Tuesday, contains another direct payment for up to $1,200.

We’ll try to keep it simple. Read on for the most crucial facts that’ll help you understand eligibility rules and how to calculate your next coronavirus relief payment. This story updates often.

1. Negotiations aren’t over yet

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will continue to negotiate through the weekend. 

“I do hope we will have an agreement soon but, as you say, they keep changing,” Pelosi said on MSNBC, according to The New York Times. As of Saturday, Pelosi referred to Friday’s $1.8 trillion White House offer as “one step forward, two steps back.”

2. US leaders want you to get another stimulus check

Democrats want it. Republicans want it. And Trump also wants to send another round of checks out to Americans. In fact, every stimulus proposal since the first check began going out in April has included a second direct payment. 

Though 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

3. The IRS might 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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4. There are different priority groups for sending payments

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.

5. A $1,200-per-person stimulus check is only part of 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.

6. A change in eligibility rules could result 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. On the other hand, the current $1.8 trillion proposal from the White House offers a $1,000 payment per child dependent.

7. 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:

8. You can already estimate your total stimulus amount

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

9. You won’t pay taxes on the money no matter when it arrives

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.

There’s much more to know about other government payments during the pandemic, including a possible interest check from the IRS and where the $300 federal unemployment benefit is now.



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