Second stimulus check eligibility status update: Who might qualify for an extra payment

Walter White / July 17,2020
Second stimulus check eligibility status update: Who might qualify for an extra payment

The proposals for who may or may not qualify for a second stimulus check are dizzying.

Angela Lang/CNET

We know that the Senate will be “looking at another direct payment” when the new session starts on Monday, that much is clear. Among other things, the debate will center on how big a second stimulus check could be and who will (or won’t) qualify to get it. 

Even if you received the first stimulus check for the maximum amount of $1,200, you won’t automatically qualify for a second payment. Those requirements could be aimed at people who are currently unemployed or earn relatively low incomes, White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow said last week.

Eligibility is likely to be determined by citizenship, income limit, age, marital status and number of dependents in the household; these parameters could become either broader or more narrow in a second stimulus check. The first direct payment limited how many dependents you could claim and set an age limit for qualifying children (more below). 

Keep reading for all of the current information regarding another economic impact payment. And here’s when we think the IRS could send the first batch of new stimulus checks, if they happen. This story is updated frequently.

Keep track of the coronavirus pandemic.

Second stimulus check qualifications: Best case scenario

The broadest eligibility suggested so far comes from the Heroes Act (PDF) proposed by the House of Representatives in May. It has been strenuously opposed by the Senate and President Donald Trump, who called it DOA, but it can help frame the conversation about the upper limits of who might be able to receive a second stimulus check. Here’s who qualifies based on that proposal:

  • Individuals who made less than $99,000 according to the adjusted gross income from their 2018 or 2019 taxes (whichever was most recently filed).
  • College students, dependents over 17, disabled relatives and taxpayers’ parents.
  • Families of up to five people.
  • SSDI recipients.
  • People who aren’t US citizens and file tax returns, pay taxes and otherwise comply with federal tax law using an individual taxpayer identification number instead of a Social Security number.

 Who might qualify for an extra payment

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Who might not qualify for a second payment

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said that if the Senate, which his Republican party controls, passes another relief bill that includes more stimulus checks, the focus will be narrow. Based on speculation, here’s who might not be eligible for a second stimulus check.

Nobody qualifies: A stimulus package could be signed into law that gives tax credits and other incentives to businesses. It’s possible some people could get a travel or dining credit, but not a check.

People who make “too much” money: If another round of stimulus payments does pass, but allocations are smaller for IRS payments, it’s probable that income limits could become more strict — you may need a lower maximum yearly income (AGI on the tax form) to qualify. In other words, people who make more than a certain amount (that’s lower than the current cutoff of $99,000 for individuals) could potentially be left out of a second round. One example is a $40,000 per year income cap, first raised by McConnell (more below).

Carryover exclusions from the current CARES Act: Young people between 18 and 24, people who aren’t US citizens but pay taxes, people who are incarcerated.

 Who might qualify for an extra payment Who might qualify for an extra payment

It’ll soon become clear who can qualify for another stimulus check.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Who didn’t get the first stimulus check

Let’s review who the first round passed by:

  • Single taxpayers with an adjusted gross income above $99,000
  • Heads of households with an AGI over $136,500
  • Married couples with an AGI over $198,000
  • Children over 16 and college students under age 24
  • Nonresident aliens, as defined by the US government

Why people are talking about a $40,000 income limit

It’s been suggested that the next stimulus check would only go out to people who make $40,000 a year or less. The supposed income limit — which is not final — came from remarks made by McConnell on July 6, who answered a reporter’s question about the second stimulus check by saying: “I think the people who have been hit the hardest are people who make about $40,000 a year or less. Many of them work in the hospitality industry. So that could well be a part of it.”

Nancy Pelosi, the House Speaker, questioned McConnell’s proposed salary cap. “I don’t know where the $40,000 came from,” she said during a July 9 press conference. “I think families making over $40,000 probably need assistance, depending on their situation.”

 Who might qualify for an extra payment Who might qualify for an extra payment

Is a $40,000 per year income limit part of the next stimulus package? It’s too soon to say.

Sarah Tew/CNET

That figure doesn’t scale across all US markets. In San Francisco, for example, the US office of Housing and Urban Development defined “very low income limits” at $60,900 for a single earner and $87,000 for a family of four, based on 50% of the metro area’s median income in 2020. That would be well above any $40,000 cutoff.

It’s been suggested that the $40,000 figure McConnell cited came from an open letter published June 16 from over 150 economists, led by Ben Bernanke, the former chair of the Federal Reserve, which stated that “among people who were working in February, almost 40% (PDF) of those in households making less than $40,000 a year had lost a job in March.”

When will we know more about stimulus check qualifications?

We won’t know anything for sure until a stimulus bill comes into clearer focus, but we have a good idea when that might happen and when a check could be sent. The conversation is expected to start in earnest on Monday, July 20, when the Senate is back in session.

“As soon as the Senate gets back [from its current recess], we are going to sit down on a bipartisan basis with the Republicans and the Democrats,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC on July 9. He added that it will be a priority for the next legislation to be passed between July 20 and the end of the month.

For more, here’s what we know about the major proposals for a second stimulus package. We also have information on unemployment insurance, what you can do if you’ve lost your job and what to know about evictions.

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