CORONAVIRUS STIMULUS CHECKS

Third stimulus check: who could qualify for the third payment?

The House prepares to approve the changes to the $1.9 trillion covid-19 relief bill, which includes lower limits for eligibility to $1400 stimulus checks.

Third stimulus check: who could qualify for the third payment?
JOSHUA ROBERTS REUTERS

The House of Representatives is set to vote on President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion covid-19 relief bill on Wednesday. Should the lower chamber accept the modified legislation it would mean a third round of direct stimulus payments in less than a year. President Biden is expected to sign the bill once it reaches his desk.

Low- and middle-income households would then begin seeing $1,400 payments in their bank accounts one or two weeks after Biden signs the legislation. Democrats say the third payment, in addition to the $600 in the second round, will fulfill the promise to get Americans $2,000 direct payments. However, the third payment will be more targeted, with the eligibility cap for receiving at least some stimulus money tightened.

Who will be eligible for a third stimulus check?

As with the previous two rounds of direct stimulus payments, in the third round individuals who have an adjusted gross income (AGI) of $75,000, couples making $150,000, or heads of household earning $112,500, plus their children or adult dependents, qualify for the full $1,400 per person. Mixed-status households, where members have different citizenship but at least one person has a Social Security Number, are also eligible for a payment.

However, above those income thresholds, the direct stimulus payment amounts will phase out much faster than in the previous two rounds. An individual with an AGI of $80,000, a couple making $160,000, or a head of household earning $120,000 won’t see any stimulus money. This was a last-minute deal to keep moderate Democrats on board who wanted to more narrowly target the direct stimulus payments.

When will the $1,400 stimulus checks be sent?

The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act could be passed as soon as Wednesday when the House will revisit the bill to approve the changes that have been made in the upper chamber. Included in those changes was a lowering of the federal boost to pandemic unemployment benefits from $400 per week to $300. The House was set to vote a second time on the bill on Tuesday but due to the need to comb through the bill to process the changes, the lower chamber needed an extra day according to CNN.

Once the bill passes the House it will go to the White House where Biden is expected to sign the bill. The Democrats are in a hurry to enact the legislation before pandemic unemployment benefits, that were extended in December, expire 14 March. Then it will be up to the IRS to begin sending out the direct stimulus payments.

The agency has yet to announce when they will start sending out the payments or the timeline. The IRS was able to get the second round of payments out sooner than the first building on the systems set up in the spring. However, the agency is in the middle of tax filing season which may slow the third payment slightly. But it is expected that like the first two rounds of direct payments, they will go out automatically based on the information they have on file.

How can I get my stimulus payment faster?

In the previous rounds the IRS use the information from tax filings in 2018 or 2019, whichever they had on file at the time the payments were processed. This time the agency will use the most recent filing, either 2019 or 2020. The IRS is currently processing tax returns for the 2020 fiscal year, but not everyone has filed yet.

If you file electronically the agency will be able to process your tax return faster than if it is sent by mail. Furthermore, if you use direct deposit to receive your return then your direct stimulus payment will arrive sooner. On the contrary, the agency will have to send the payment via post in the form of a paper check or pre-loaded debit card which will take longer to receive.

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