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Second stimulus check: could any new payment be more than $1,200?

US citizens are still hoping Congress can pass a new coronavirus stimulus package - the proposals for dependents could see some people's payments rise.

US citizens are still hoping Congress can pass a new coronavirus stimulus package - the proposals for dependents could see some people's payments rise.

Most people entitled to a payment under the first round of stimulus checks to help hard-hit Americans through the coronavirus pandemic have now received their money, and attention is very much focused on whether the White House and Congress can reach a deal on a new relief package that would provide for a second round of much needed stimulus checks.

More stimulus money is seen as vitally important by both Democrats and Republicans as Covid-19 continues to wreak havoc on both people and the economy, and in the latest round of negotiations the two sides seem to be edging closer to a deal, with a $1.8 trillion pitch from the White House and a $2.2 trillion reworked Heroes Act from the Dems. That said Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has announced that a deal on a new coronavirus relief bill before US elections looks unlikely.

Will the standard stimulus check still be $1,200?

But if a deal can be reached, how much could people expect to receive from their second stimulus check? Here, it does look like there could be good news for some people, depending on their family situations. But first up, it is important to note that pretty much all the proposals that could actually make it into into legislation for a second round of stimulus payments would maintain the the base stimulus check of $1,200 for individuals and $2,400 for married couples at the same amount.

Remember, the limits for claiming the first stimulus check, set out in the CARES Act that President Trump signed into law back in March, were as follows:

Individual filers earning under $75,000 received the full amount of $1,200 tapering up to $99,000 above which no payment was due.

For married couples those limits were earnings of under $150,000 to get the full $2,400 payment, tapering off to $198,000.

Head of households got the full $1,200 with earnings under $112,500, tapering to zero at $146,500.

Earnings for these purposes is what the IRS call adjusted gross income, which is all your earnings in the year less a number of allowable deductions.

  • Register for direct deposit to your bank account

This is the fastest way to get your money. The IRS has a system in place to electronically transfer the funds into your checking account, if you already provided those details and registered for direct deposit for your first check or as part of filing your IRS tax return.

  • If you moved, contact the post office

If you don't have direct deposit, a physical check is the most likely way that you'll receive a stimulus check. The IRS will mail your check to your last known address, so If you've moved recently, you'll need to file a change of address with the US Postal Service.

  • Keep an eye on the mail

Don't miss a check mailed to you, and also be aware some four million people received a prepaid economic impact payment card in the mail for the first stimulus payment. Don't throw it away by mistake!

Also, beware of scams, a lot of fraudsters are looking to take advantage of people's desperation as they wait for their payment.

Provision for dependents could increase stimulus checks

What could have a major impact on how much people get from a second stimulus check compared to the first, are the proposals for dependents. Under the first round, there was a payment of $500 for each dependent under the age of 17 (with no limit on the number of dependents) the taxpayer claimed on their return. That excluded older offspring, despite the fact that many remain dependent on their parents for a significant time, a move that was highly criticised.

Trump plan ups payment for dependents to $1,000

Under new proposals, the amount available for dependents could rise, depending on each families circumstances. The current $1.8 trillion stimulus package proposed by the White House includes the same age restriction on dependents, but ups the payment to $1,000 per dependent, again with no limit on the number.

Dems plan removes age limitation

Set against Trump’s plan is the latest proposal from the Democrats - their newly revised HEROES Act, which went through the House on 1 October and calls for $2.2 trillion of funding, well down on the original amount of over $3 trillion.

This revised bill calls for the same $500 payment for dependents as in the first round of stimulus checks, but ups the age limitation to allow full-time students under 24 and adult dependents to qualify. Again, there would be no limitation on the number of dependents who could be claimed for. (Note that the original plan from the Democrats was for $1,200 payments for each dependent up to a maximum of three, but that has been ditched.)

So for families with dependents aged 17 to 24, the better proposal will likely be that from the Democrats, while those with younger children will be rooting for the White House’s plan. What’s clear right now though is that it is looking increasingly unlikely we will get anything signed and sealed before the election on 3 November.

To be decided by any final bill

  • Individuals: An AGI of less than $99,000 (Same as CARES)
  • Head of household: An AGI of less than $146,500 (Same as CARES)
  • Married Couple filing jointly: Joint AGI less than $198,000 (Same as CARES)
  • Dependents of any age: As defined by your tax filing (HEALS proposal; and revised Heroes Act)
  •  US citizens living abroad: Yes, same as CARES Act
  • Citizens of US territories: Likely, with payments handled by each territory's tax authority (CARES)
  • SSDI and tax nonfilers: Likely, but with extra steps to file
  • Non-citizens who pay taxes: Proposed in Heroes Act, unlikely to pass in Senate
  • Incarcerated people: Possible. IRS argued that no under CARES, which is currently before the courts, with initial victory going to the inmates
  • People who owe child support: Unlikely. Included in Heroes proposal, but excluded under CARES