Coronavirus Stimulus Checks

$900 billion stimulus bill: how much will new check be?

How much will be in the post for your new stimulus check? It's likely to be smaller than the last and the amount will depend on your income last year.

$900 billion stimulus bill: how much will new check be?
Samuel Corum AFP

Nearly a whole week after it was passed by Congress, president Donald Trump on Sunday finally signed the new coronavirus relief bill worth $900bn, which includes a second round of stimulus checks for qualifying Americans.

How much could your stimulus check be?

Currently the package provides for a stimulus check of a maximum $600, with households also able to claim an additional $600 for child dependents aged 16 or under.

The amount you're eligible for will correlate with your reported income. Those who earned under $75,000 in the 2019 tax year will get the full amount, while a steadily smaller figure will be given to people on a higher annual income. The maximum phase-out limit is $87,000, at which point you won’t qualify for a check.

However, a major reason why Trump stalled on signing the new bill is his objection to the stimulus-check figure, which is half the maximum amount of $1,200 paid out as part of the first round of checks included in March’s CARES Act.

House to vote on $2,000 stimulus check amendment Monday

Describing the $600 figure as "ridiculously low" and "measly", Trump has called on Congress to up the second stimulus check to $2,000 - a proposal which Democrats on Capitol Hill have reacted to with enthusiasm.

In a statement issued after he signed the relief bill, Trump said:

"As President, I have told Congress that I want far less wasteful spending and more money going to the American people in the form of $2,000 checks per adult and $600 per child."

Republicans blocked an attempt by House Democrats to approve the increase by unanimous consent on Thursday, but the lower chamber’s speaker, Nancy Pelosi has said she will hold a full recorded vote on the amendment on Monday.

"Every Republican vote against this bill is a vote to deny the financial hardship that families face and to deny the American people the relief they need," Pelosi said in a statement on Sunday.

$2,000 checks likely to be blocked by Senate

However, the measure is not expected to get through the Senate, whose Republican majority has consistently fought to keep stimulus spending down since Congress passed the $2.2tn CARES Act in March.

Indeed, CBS quotes Heights Securities as saying that the cost of the new relief bill would increase by $385bn were the $600 checks to be replaced by $2,000 payments.

The proposal is therefore likely to be "dead on arrival" in the Senate even if it is approved by the House, Thomas Gift of University College London's School of Public Policy told CNN on Monday. Senate Republicans "have been saying from the very outset that they’re not willing to go over that $1tn mark and they’re not willing to entertain any proposals that would see direct checks to Americans over this $600 figure", Gift said.

Reacting to Trump’s signing of the relief bill, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell praised  his “decision to get billions of dollars of crucial covid-19 relief out the door and into the hands of American families”, but made no mention of the president’s call for bigger stimulus checks.

When will the stimulus checks arrive?

Whatever the final amount ends up being for you, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) can be expected to get the second round of stimulus checks out quickly, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said.

Speaking to CNBC’s Jim Cramer last Monday, Mnuchin said money will start going out by direct deposit within "one week" of the stimulus-check scheme being given the go-ahead.

"The good news is, this is a very, very fast way of getting money into the economy and […] let me emphasize that people are going to see this money at the beginning of next week," he said.

IRS has deadline of 15 January to send out direct payments

January 15 is the cut-off date in the $900 billion stimulus bill by which time the IRS and US Treasury must stop sending checks as part of this round of delivery. If you don't receive your full second stimulus check money by January 15, you will need to claim all or part of the missing amount when you file your federal tax returns in 2021. You will also be able to claim any money the IRS still owes you from the first round of payments sent out earlier in 2020.

"Most of these will be direct deposits. We call them 'checks in the mail,' but most will be direct deposits," Treasury secretary Mnuchin said on December 21. "It will be within three weeks. We are determined to get money in people's pockets immediately. So that will be within three weeks."

And if you’re expecting your check in the mail or as a prepaid debit card instead of direct deposit, you should look for a payment in the first three weeks of January, Mnuchin said on Monday. This is because of the January 15 deadline for the IRS to send out payments.

The overwhelming majority of recipients will get their money by direct deposit, though: the method accounted for some 120 million of the approximately 160 million CARES Act checks sent out, the Treasury Department said earlier this year.

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