Third stimulus check proposal: $1,400 payment, with new qualifications. What we know


The latest proposal for a third stimulus check would change the rules, from the maximum payment to who qualifies.

Sarah Tew/CNET

If President-elect Joe Biden has his way, a third stimulus check will come to Americans soon. But it may not be for the amount you think. 

“We will finish the job of getting $2,000 in cash relief to people who need it most,” Biden said Thursday in a press conference. “Even for people who have kept their jobs, getting this check is really important.” He noted that workers who worry about job security or getting sick would gain peace of mind, and could also immediately spend the money on food and rent. “$2,000 is going to go a long way to ease that pain,” he said.

But a “$2,000” stimulus check wouldn’t be for $2,000, assuming the plan passes as is. Instead, Biden’s proposal (PDF) stipulates a payment of up to $1,400 per eligible adult, a figure that would “raise” the $600 second stimulus check maximum to $2,000 if you add the two payments together. Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package also includes a $400 weekly unemployment bonus.

Biden’s stimulus proposal is the first step toward a third stimulus payment during the nation’s unrelenting coronavirus pandemic, one that could see strong opposition to its passage (more on that below). It also raises a tremendous number of questions about the timeline for sending the checks; how much money would go toward dependents this time; if it would include more taxpayers who are not US citizens; and if dependents of any age would be counted in the final bill. Here’s what we know so far.

What’s the timeline for approving a $1,400 stimulus check?

Ironically, President Donald Trump — who was impeached on Wednesday and faces his second trial in the Senate — set serious discussions of a $2,000 stimulus check in motion when he initially delayed signing December’s stimulus bill and demanded to raise the $600 ceiling on the second stimulus check to $2,000.

Biden didn’t indicate when he would attempt to push through his stimulus package, and it isn’t clear if the IRS would automatically send checks to recipients as they have been doing with the second stimulus check, or if the money would be wrapped up into a Recovery Rebate Credit that everyone who doesn’t get a their second check shortly after the Jan. 15 deadline will have to claim as part of filing for taxes.

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Second stimulus checks: Everything you need to know


Two proposed changes to stimulus check qualifications

Biden proposes two changes that have been popular among Democratic lawmakers:

A mixed status household refers to households with one or more people who are not US citizens, for example, if the parents are not US citizens, but their children, who were born in the US, are. The second stimulus checks expanded eligibility to families with one citizen spouse.

What could hamper a $1,400 third stimulus check?

There’s already pushback from Democrats in more ways than one. With the Senate evenly split, opposition from just one Democratic senator could sink the party’s hopes for a large third stimulus check.

“$2,000 means $2,000. $2,000 does not mean $1,400,″ Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said Thursday to The Washington Post, referring to Biden’s earlier and repeated commitment to a $2,000 stimulus check.

On the other end of the spectrum, Sen. Joe Manchin, a centrist Democrat from West Virginia, expressed concern multiple times about the cost of a third stimulus check and suggested the financial aid could be better focused on those most in need of the money.


How much money could a third stimulus check really bring your household? We’ll soon see.

Sarah Tew/CNET

“How is the money that we invest now going to help us best to get jobs back and get people employed? And I can’t tell you that sending another check out is gonna do that to a person that’s already got a check,” Manchin said Jan. 8, later reportedly indicating he was “open” to hearing President-elect Joe Biden’s case for a larger stimulus check, but prioritizes vaccine distribution

Many Republicans are expected to object to a new, high-priced stimulus package, especially one with that could more than double the size of the $600 stimulus check. With a soon-to-be Democrat-led Senate, Schumer is counting on pushing the legislation through, especially with incoming Vice President-elect Kamala Harris set to act as a tiebreaker.

More than one way a third stimulus check could deliver more money

A larger maximum total per person is the obvious way your household would see more money from a third check than from the second, but there’s more to it than that. Since the upper limit for the second check is $600 per adult, with an extra $600 per child dependent, the way the IRS’ formula works out, more people hit the upper income limit for receiving a second payment, which means they won’t actually qualify to get any stimulus money at all.

A third stimulus check could:

Here are other ways a third stimulus check could put more money in your pocket.

For more information, here’s other funding that could be in the next stimulus package, how to calculate your second stimulus check payment and who may not qualify for a stimulus check.