The US election is in 4 days. Here’s how that could affect a second stimulus check


What does the election have to do with stimulus checks? Everything.

Angela Lang/CNET

With four days to go before the Nov. 3 election, Democrats and Republicans are slinging blame over which side is holding up passage of the next stimulus package. At this point, there’s no chance of getting final legislation before Election Day Tuesday. Still, there’s reason to believe a final bill — whatever that looks like, will include a stimulus check.  Every major proposal we’ve seen, including presidential candidate (and former Vice President) Joe Biden’s, incorporates a second direct payment.

The next stimulus check, if approved, is expected to send up to $1,200 per individual and more for certain situations — here’s how the IRS determines your total stimulus check amount. So what do you need to know about how the election could affect stimulus checks? We’ll tell you. This story is updated often.

Read more: Would you use your second check like these people?

Best case scenario, a check is approved shortly after the election

Senators, representatives and President Donald Trump have all said they want to pass another stimulus bill after the election. But exactly when after the election is what matters most. There are two time periods of note. The first is the “lame duck” session from Nov. 4 to Jan. 19. The other is after the presidential inauguration on Jan. 20.

Trump has promised “the best stimulus package you’ve ever seen,” if Republicans sweep Congress and the presidency. Pelosi wants “a clean slate” if former Vice President and Democratic candidate Biden wins the presidential. The new term of Congress convenes on Jan. 3, which could also change the political makeup of the Senate and House of Representatives, a shift that could affect whether a certain bill is supported or opposed.

A stimulus check in the next aid bill is not guaranteed

While there’s a bipartisan commitment to some sort of economic stimulus, there are also several forms that could take. For example, a large package could pass that includes a new stimulus check, money for testing and school reopening and the like. Or, a much narrower bill to bring targeted aid to programs considered critical could make it through before the inauguration, which might mean that a separate stimulus package could potentially come in early 2021. Right now we have to wait and see.

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Next stimulus checks: What to expect


Election results will influence the timeline to receive a new stimulus check

Once again, there are two issues to consider when we think of how soon the IRS could send out a second stimulus check. The first is that the makeup of the incoming Congress and presidency could either buoy current leaders or potentially cause them to dig in their heels until the official swearing in of the new term. That might mean a check is approved closer to December, or much later, in January or February.

Then there’s the question of how long it will take for the IRS to mobilize the first wave of stimulus checks, as well as payments for other groups, once a bill allotting more direct payments is approved. Learn more about the five priority groups we identified that help determine when you got your first payment.

Qualifications for a second check are anything but certain

Democratic and Republican negotiators both want to make changes to the eligibility requirements from the first stimulus check, but have different ideas about what should change.

For example, the Democratic proposals support bringing certain undocumented immigrants to the US who pay taxes the same $1,200 stimulus check afforded to US citizens at home and abroad, as well as some people living in US territories. They’d also either broaden the definition of a dependent to include college students and older adults, or else approve of $1,000 per child dependent instead of $500 apiece. There may also be changes to some child support situations.

Republican proposals originated the $1,000 allocation per child dependent.

It’s also possible a new bill could clarify if people who are imprisoned are eligible to receive a stimulus check. The issue is under current legal review.

A new stimulus check could bring you more money — or less

New qualifications might dictate a new total stimulus check sum for you. We’ve made some calculations to show you how you might be affected. In addition to changes in a bill that could show up in your next direct payment, there may be changes to your life circumstances since last April that could alter the size of a second check, in either direction. For more details, this is how the IRS determines how much money your particular check will bring.

P.S. If the IRS owes you money, you need to claim it by Nov. 21

If you’re still waiting for your first stimulus payment, there are several ways to hunt it down. As many as 9 million people were estimated to be eligible for a first check but didn’t receive it because they needed to register with the IRS — an extra step most people didn’t have to take. The deadline is Nov. 21 and we show you how to register here

Some people with dependents received only a partial payment and are still owed money. The deadline to get that in 2020 is also Nov. 21, and we explain how you can claim it with next year’s taxes.

And if you share custody of a child but you’re not married, you may each be able to receive $500 per child dependent

For more information about stimulus checks, here’s what to do if you haven’t received your first payment and how to calculate how much money a second check could bring you.