Stimulus check 2: Your second payment could be bigger than the first. Here’s how

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How much money could your next stimulus check could bring? We can help estimate.


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The need for more stimulus aid is acute, as COVID-19 cases and new jobless claims surge across the country. Time is running out for Congress to negotiate and pass some economic relief measures before the year draws to a close, but there’s still support for a second stimulus check from high-ranking leaders, including President-elect Joe Biden, who has cited another direct payment in his own stimulus plan.

Biden is “very concerned that we’re in a real crisis in many households in this country right now,” his incoming chief of staff, Ron Klain, said Sunday on ABC’s This Week. Klain cited benefits that will end in 2020 without more stimulus aid, including unemployment insurance and the current eviction moratorium. US economists are also pushing for an “immediate” second stimulus check, publishing an open letter this week (PDF) to urge Congress to approve another direct payment.

A second stimulus check is expected to max out at $1,200 per qualified adult, but changes to the eligibility rules could lead to a bigger check than the first time around. Several proposals, none of which have become law, have moved to expand or decrease eligibility for some groups, so if you didn’t get a check the first time, you might be able to claim all or part of a second check. You may also receive more money for dependents, or if there’s been a change to your personal circumstances.

Note that there are some steps you can take to get your next stimulus check faster. Read on for more information about stimulus payment amounts. We regularly update this story.

How much more money you could get with a second check

Again, we won’t know the rules for sure until a bill is signed into law. But we do know some possibilities, based on previous proposals and possibly even the most recent Republican offerings. For most people, the total amount you’re likely to receive is based on your adjusted gross income, or AGI, and other eligibility requirements.

Here’s how much more stimulus money you could potentially see if…

More people qualify as a dependent: The Democratic proposal for the next bill expands the definition of “dependent” to include anyone you can claim on your tax returns — such as children over 16 and adults under your care. By today’s sums, that’s $500 more per person you support, with potentially no cap. If you had one dependent who qualified in the first round and three that qualify in the second, that would get your family $1,000 more if you had no other changes.


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Child dependents get more money: The most recent White House proposal would keep the same age restriction for children, but double the payout to $1,000. So if you have one dependent, your second check could be $500 larger.

You gain another dependent: If you had or adopted a child, you may see $500 to $1,000 more, depending on the final bill.

Your employment status changed: If you became unemployed this year or your wages dropped, that could lower your AGI, which is used to determine the payment. For example, if you got a partial payment with the first check, you may receive a full payment if you are no longer employed.

You got married: Depending on several variables that include your spouse’s filing status and any new dependents, a change in marital status could result in a larger check. For example, if you were single and filing alone, you got $1,200 max. Married, you could be eligible for $2,400 maximum, since the IRS formula used to determine your total stimulus money is based on your combined household income.

You now share custody of a child: If you meet specific qualifications, you and the child’s other parent may both be entitled to claim extra stimulus money. That means you could get $500 more in the second check, especially if anything in your situation changes from the time you filed your 2018 tax return to 2019. The second check allowance will be based on your most recent tax filing.

A rule change concerning incarcerated people becomes permanent: A federal judge has ruled that the IRS owes stimulus checks to inmates in prison who qualify. If the ruling stands, these people may be entitled to a second stimulus check of up to $1,200, as well as the first. That’s a potential $2,400 total for individuals, with more potential money for dependents.

You’re an “undocumented immigrant”: Democrats propose that undocumented US residents should be eligible for stimulus relief funds if they pay taxes, as part of the Heroes Act that passed the House of Representatives in two forms, but which is not law. If that qualification goes through, it could mean that some people who did not get a check as part of the CARES Act could get a second check. If it works retroactively, individuals may be eligible for both payments. This is contingent, along with the rest of the stimulus check qualifications, on the details of a new law.

There’s a potential for $1,200-$2,400 for this group, with more for dependents. For a married couple with two young children who didn’t receive the first check, the second round could possibly yield as much as $3,400.

Keep reading below for how you could get less money than before.

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The amount of stimulus money you could get in a second round of checks is still undetermined. 


James Martin/CNET

What more money for dependents looks like

Here are some potential scenarios for how the two different approaches could play out for families. You can use our stimulus check calculator to get a more specific estimate for your particular situation.

Stimulus check calculations with dependents

Scenario 1 Scenario 2 Scenario 3 Scenario 4
Tax filing status Single Head of household Married Married
2018 or 2019 tax AGI $45,000 $60,000 $160,000 $190,000
Estimated total with:
1 dependent under 17 ($1,000 total) $2,200 $2,200 $2,900 $1,400
3 dependents under 17 ($3,000 total) $4,200 $4,200 $4,900 $3,400
1 dependent of any age ($500 total) $1,700 $1,700 $2,400 $900
3 dependents of any age ($1,500 total) $2,700 $2,700 $3,400 $1,900

How your next stimulus payment could also be smaller

In the first round of stimulus checks, the IRS, for most people, based the amount on their 2019 federal tax returns if they filed them and their 2018 returns if they didn’t. But some Americans who qualified for a check experienced personal or financial changes after filing that would affect a future payment. 

You might get a smaller check if you:

Started a job or received higher pay: A change in your AGI, either because of a wage increase or a change in employment status, could reduce the check’s size.

Have fewer qualified dependents: Congress could keep the restrictive dependent requirements of the CARES Act, which was passed in March, and any dependents you claim could age out of eligibility.

Owe child support: Under the CARES Act, the government held back money to cover owed child support.

Owe money to private banks or creditors: Your stimulus money can’t be garnished to pay rent or federal tax, but these two groups could seize your check.

Looking for more stimulus check information? Read up on all the finer points of the stimulus payment here. If you’re still waiting for your first stimulus check, here are 10 possible reasons for a delay and what you can do if you think your payment was lost or has fallen through the cracks.

source: cnet.com

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