CORONAVIRUS

HEALS Act stimulus check: could I get more money this time round?

A second stimulus check, officially known as an Economic Impact Payment, is part of Senate Republicans' proposal for the US' next coronavirus relief package.

HEALS Act stimulus check: could I get more money this time round?
SHAWN THEW EFE

Some American households could be set to receive bigger stimulus checks second time round, after another direct payment was included in Senate Republicans’ proposal for the next coronavirus relief package in the United States.

Introduced on Monday, the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools (HEALS) Act vows to distribute a fresh round of stimulus checks - officially known as Economic Impact Payments - that would largely mirror the parameters of those paid out under the CARES Act, a $2.2tn relief bill signed into law in late March.

$1,200 stimulus checks for those earning under $75,000 a year

Like the CARES Act, $1,200 would be sent out to individuals who earn less than $75,000 a year, while joint tax filers on under $150,000 would receive $2,400. Checks for a steadily smaller amount would again be made available to higher earners, up to a final income limit of $99,000 for individuals and $198,000 for joint filers.

Eligibility broadened for additional credit for dependents

However, while the CARES Act offered an extra $500 for dependents but limited this to those under the age of 17, the HEALS Act proposes broadening eligibility for this additional credit, allowing households to also claim this sum for dependents over 16.

The provision is similar to that proposed in the HEROES Act, but the $3tn package - which passed the Democrat-controlled House in May but came up against Republican opposition in the GOP-held Senate - also sought to up the additional payment for dependents from $500 to $1,200.

That said, the HEROES Act capped pay-outs for dependents at a maximum of three per family, while - as was also the case in the CARES Act - there is no mention of a limit in the HEALS Act.

Removal of age limit would see 26 million more qualify

According to the Tax Foundation, a non-profit organisation that focuses on tax policy in the US, the removal of the age limit on dependents in the HEALS Act would make as many as 26 million more people eligible for the credit.

Immigrants without Social Security number left out

The HEROES Act also sought to include immigrants without a Social Security number after they were left out of the CARES Act direct payments, but the HEALS Act has opted to exclude this group once more.

Meanwhile, more than $1bn in stimulus checks was erroneously sent out to dead people as part of the first round of direct payments - and in its efforts to remedy this flaw in the CARES Act, the HEALS Act would exclude anyone who died before 1 January 2020 from the list of recipients.

Republican-Democrat talks begin after HEALS Act release

Following the release of the $1tn HEALS Act, which Senate Republicans put together alongside White House chiefs, discussions have begun with leading Democrats in a bid to shape it into a bill that will pass both the House and the Senate before the upper chamber goes on recess on 7 August.

"Unfortunately, we’re pretty far apart right now, although I’m optimistic we could have a good solution at the end," Senate Minorty Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who has been involved in the talks, told CBS on Tuesday, per CNBC.

Asked if a deal could be struck by 7 August, Schumer said: "I hope so, and that’s what we’re working for. We’ll sit down. We’re going to sit down again today. We’ll sit down 24/7."

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