Coronavirus Stimulus Checks

Second stimulus check: what could eligible income limit be?

Where are the talks for a second stimulus bill at right now and what will the likely eligibility requirements be if a second check is included?

Second stimulus check: what could eligible income limit be?
Yuriko Nakao REUTERS

Since March lawmakers in the Capitol have failed to agree on another large-scale stimulus package to help Americans survive the economic fallout of the pandemic. After an initial surge of bipartisan sentiment to pass the CARES Act at the outset, the two parties have not been able to find a compromise since. To make matters worse, a coronavirus vaccine is being rolled out as we speak, which means that sympathy for those in financial dire straits is waning (especially for Republicans).

Both Republicans and Democrats agree that a stimulus bill needs to be passed, but the scope of the package is a very contentious matter with the negotiators still unable to find an agreement after months of talks. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has called for a more generous package on behalf of the Democrats, while President Trump’s Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Majority Senate Leader Mitch McConnell have proposed considerably smaller financial packages.

What could the eligible income limits be for second stimulus check?

Depending on which bill eventually passes through Congress, the terms could vary. If the income limits are the same as those in the CARES Act in March, they would be as below, based on your adjusted gross income  for the previous year, assuming you met all the other requirements.

With the amendment proposed by Bernie Sanders and Josh Hawley on 10 December – which threatens to prevent the Senate breaking for Christmas unless another round of $1,200 stimulus checks is agreed - the requirements guidelines would follow those set out in the CARES Act.

  • You're a single tax filer and earn less than $99,000.
  • You file as the head of a household and earn under $146,500.
  • You file jointly with a spouse and earn less than $198,000 combined.

If the eligibility rules stay roughly the same as in March, single taxpayers with a Social Security number and an AGI under $75,000 would receive the full amount of $1,200. However as your AGI goes up, the amount you're eligible for decreases until your AGI reaches $99,000 or above, when you wouldn't be eligible for the stimulus check.

What’s happening in stimulus bill talks?

The picture will change if the Democrats can flip the Senate in the Georgia runoff races in January but for now McConnell’s involvement in proceedings limits what can be included in the new relief package. Debate in Congress is currently focused on the relative merits of two forms of direct relief; stimulus checks and unemployment benefits.

While Americans will have been hoping that the new package will boost unemployment benefits and provide stimulus checks, it appears unlikely that both can be agreed before Congress breaks for Christmas. As it stands the two most likely relief bills each include one of those provisions.

Two possible stimulus bills on the table

For weeks now a cross-party group of lawmakers has been acquiring support for a bipartisan relief bill that would be worth $908 billion in federal funding. This attempt to get some form of support agreed before Christmas has been dismissed, by Pelosi amongst others, because it does not include another round of stimulus checks. It did however include a $300-a-week extension of federal employment benefits, half the amount provided in the CARES Act.

Alternatively, Mnuchin has tabled a $916 billion package which does include another round of Economic Impact Payments (stimulus checks). This time however Americans would be entitled to just $600 per person and $600 per child; half the amount provided in the CARES Act. Trump is known to be eager to get another round of direct payments agreed before he leaves office and this package was drawn up with the backing of the President.

President Trump and President-elect Biden have both publicly called for another round of $1,200 stimulus checks to be sent out to Americans as soon as possible, with Trump even proposing to use $300 billion of remaining CARES Act coronavirus relief funds to pay for it.