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Second stimulus check: How much could you get?

160 million Americans have received up to $1,200 with the first stimulus payment, based on certain requirements, and another round of payments could be on the way.

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 15: U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) joins a news conference following the weekly Republican policy luncheon in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill September 15, 2020 in Washington, DC. House Speake

At least 160 million Americans have received up to $1,200 with the first stimulus payment, based on requirements including age and income. If negotiators can restart talks to finalise a stimulus bill before the November 3 election, it's possible that another round of payments could be on the way.

"We are encouraged that after months President Trump is now calling on Republicans to 'go for the much higher numbers' in the next coronavirus relief package," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer said on Wednesday. "We look forward to hearing from the President's negotiators that they will finally meet us halfway with a bill that is equal to the massive health and economic crises gripping our nation."

Pelosi and Schumer say they are willing to reduce the $3.4tn outlay set out in the HEROES Act - a relief bill passed by Democrats in the House in May - to $2.2tn, while Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has stated that the White House would be prepared to go as high as $1.5tn.

The “March to Common Ground”, the Problem Solvers Caucus plan is a package with initial spend of $1.52tn, potentially rising to just under $2tn in February and March 2021 “depending on the severity of the pandemic”.

Allowances for families

A second round of stimulus checks would offer up to $1,200 per person, plus $500 additional credits for dependents of all ages. But there are also allowances for the whole family, including up to $2,400 if you file jointly with your spouse, as well as more money for dependents. In the first round of stimulus checks, only dependents aged 16 or younger could qualify for an extra $500 each toward the family total. There's bipartisan support to include more people this time, which means you could potentially receive more from a second round of payments than from the first round.

Olive branch between Republicans and Democrats

The "March to Common Ground's" possible $400bn extra spend - described as a program of "boosters" - includes a third batch of checks in March if the pandemic is not under control by early 2021. The "March to Common Ground" is not expected to be voted on in Congress. It "aims to be more of an olive branch between Republicans and Democrats than an actual contender for a new law", notes Forbes' Kelly Anne Smith, as it has been created not as a potential piece of legislation but as a platform for negotiations.

The Republican-held Senate would almost certainly reject the potential spend of nearly $2tn in the bipartisan proposal, having sought to limit a comprehensive package to $1tn in the HEALS Act, a bill unveiled by GOP senators in July. Republicans have also put forward a $300bn ‘skinny’ bill, which was blocked by Democrats last Thursday.

Depending on how negotiations go, the total amount per family could change. Here's a look at the caps put in place:

CARES Act: With the CARES Act from March, there was no limit to the number of children who could count as dependents, as long as they were under 17 and claimed by the taxpayer on the tax return, according to the Tax Foundation. Each dependent would receive $500. Therefore, a family in which two adults and six children under 17 were eligible for the full amount could receive $5,400.

HEALS Act: Similarly to the CARES Act, the HEALS Act put forward by Republicans doesn't mention a cap on the amount a family may receive. The difference is that it doesn't limit dependents to those under 17 to qualify for the $500 payment.

Heroes Act: The Heroes Act, put together by the Democratic-led House and which has never been taken up by the Senate, would place a cap of $6,000 on households of five or more. It proposes $1,200 for each adult and dependent, with a maximum of three dependents per family.

Claim payment

If you never received the first direct payment and you don't normally file taxes, you may be one of 9 million people who could be eligible to claim stimulus money.


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