Second stimulus check eligibility update: Who could qualify? The status so far – CNET

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The proposals for who may or may not qualify for a second stimulus check are dizzying.
Angela Lang/CNET

With the Senate back at work this week, Washington can turn its attention to a new stimulus check as part of a larger relief package for individuals and families. The discussion involving Congressional and White House leaders is expected to run through the end of July and cover how much money a second stimulus check could bring, when another IRS payment could be sent and who will be eligible to receive a payment.

Everything is up for debate: If you qualified for the maximum $1,200 with the first stimulus check, you might not automatically get the full amount of a second payment — or any check at all. White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on July 10 that unemployed and low-income individuals are likely to be the focus of the discussion as Washington prioritizes which institutions and people to help. 

But other proposals have cast a wider net than Kudlow suggests, including people who were left out of the first round. Ultimately, the requirements for a second stimulus check will most likely come down to factors like income limit, age, citizenship, marital status and the number of dependents in your household. For example, the first stimulus payment limited the age of children to qualify, and the number of dependents you could claim per household (more below).

Keep reading for the current information about another direct payment. This story updates often with the latest information.

Could more people qualify for a second stimulus check?

The broadest eligibility parameters suggested so far come from the Heroes Act (PDF), which was proposed by the House of Representatives in mid-May. It has been fiercely opposed by Senate Republicans and President Donald Trump, who called it DOA. We can look to this bill to help frame the conversation about the upper limits of who might qualify for a broad 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 do file tax returns, pay taxes and otherwise comply with federal tax law using an individual taxpayer identification number instead of a Social Security number.

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Could qualifications for another payment be more restricted?

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.

 cash funds running out of money change dollars wallet empty
 cash funds running out of money change dollars wallet empty
It’ll soon become clear who can qualify for another stimulus check.
Sarah Tew/CNET

Who the first stimulus check passed over

Let’s review who the first round rejected:

  • 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.

New income limits: Why $40,000 is under discussion

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.”

cash funds running out of money change dollars wallet empty
cash funds running out of money change dollars wallet empty
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 Department of Housing and Urban Development defines “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 stimulus check eligibility be decided?

We won’t know anything for sure until a stimulus bill comes into clearer focus, but we have a good idea what Congress’ deadline is and when a check could be sent

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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