Second stimulus check is happening. Who could be eligible for the next $1,200? – CNET

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

Senate Republicans are set to pull the curtains back on their plan for the next economic stimulus package on Monday. The proposal, known as CARES 2, will include a second stimulus check for up to $1,200 as well as other potential benefits beyond direct payments. (Here’s when we think the IRS could send the first checks.)

The new check is expected to follow the lead of the first stimulus check and max out at $1,200 for individuals and $500 for dependents. Factors such as annual taxable income, citizenship, age, marital status and number of family dependents will be examined to determine who will qualify.

Senate Republicans and the Democrat-led House of Representatives will debate how broad or narrow the requirements should be after the plan is revealed on Monday. The House wants to allow more people to qualify (including groups who were bypassed before), while the Senate has suggested tightening the income restrictions and distributing a direct payment to fewer people.

Here’s everything we’ve heard so far about what’s happening with the next relief package. This story is updated frequently.

How more people could qualify for the 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.

Now playing: Watch this: Second stimulus checks are closer to reality

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How the Senate could narrow the requirements for the next payment

While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has suggested that if the Republican-controlled Senate passes another relief bill with more stimulus checks, the focus will be narrow. United States Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin, however, said this week the Senate is considering an identical payment structure as with the CARES Act. 

“Our proposal is the exact same provision as last time,” Mnuchin told reporters on Thursday, according to Bloomberg

Based on those conflicting signals, here’s who might not be eligible for a second stimulus 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 and 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

Here’s who didn’t get the first stimulus check

If CARES 2 follows the same eligibility rules, these groups should not expect a check:

  • 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.

Is a $40,000 income limit still 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.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi 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
Who will meet the requirements to receive a second check? 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.

That the $40,000 figure McConnell cited may have come 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 the qualification requirements be final?

After the Senate makes its proposal, with the White House’s involvement, negotiations with the House begin. After an agreement is made, the stimulus bill won’t take effect until the president signs it into law. 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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