Second stimulus check: 6 key facts to know about another payment - CNET

What's happening with a second stimulus check? We'll tell you. Angela Lang/CNET With Washington lawmakers tra

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What's happening with a second stimulus check? We'll tell you.

Angela Lang/CNET

With Washington lawmakers transitioning into full-time campaign mode amid the daily news around COVID-19, it can be a challenge keeping up with the on-again, off-again negotiations over another coronavirus relief package and the second stimulus check that could come with it.

After weeks of deadlock, there are some signs that the two sides are inching closer, prior to the Nov. 3 election. "I want to see people get money," President Donald Trump said last week during a press conference. "We should have an agreement. People should be helped."

So, what's happening now and what are the most important takeaways concerning a second direct payment? We'll count them out below. (This story updates often.)


Washington continues to talk about the need for more direct payments.

Angela Lang/CNET

1. The new stimulus check is wanted, but not finalized

The stimulus check is not a done deal, and right now its fate is tied to that of the overarching stimulus bill, which is stalled in bitter negotiations, or to an executive order, which Trump hinted at in early September, but which hasn't developed since. Another direct payment has strong bipartisan support.

"It's very important that we have stimulus that helps the areas of the economy that need support," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Sept. 14. "I've told [House Speaker Nancy Pelosi] I'm available anytime to negotiate, no conditions," he said.

Now playing: Watch this: Next stimulus checks: What to expect


2. The IRS could send a second check faster than last time

It took the federal government about two and a half weeks to send the first round of stimulus payments to eligible recipients. Mnuchin has said he could send them much faster this time, once a deal is inked.

"I could get out 50 million payments really quickly," and start making payments a week after a bill is signed, Mnuchin said in August.

3. Qualifications may change in your favor

While we think a second stimulus check would largely follow the same guidelines as the first, eligibility requirements are subject to change. It might even benefit your family, if a new stimulus bill redefines who counts as a qualifying dependent.

Other notes on eligibility:

  • Your adjusted gross income, or AGI, plays a huge role. 
  • People who aren't required to file taxes -- either because they receive federal benefits or are below the income level to file -- could also get a check.
  • In the first check, children under 16 counted for $500 apiece toward the total check, but did not receive their own money

Less than a quarter of eligible recipients received their payment as a check in the mail.

Sarah Tew/CNET

4. You can estimate the size of your check now, in minutes

If you're still waiting for your first payment or are looking for an estimate for how much a second check could include, you can use our stimulus check calculator to get an idea for how much you, your family and your dependents could expect to receive, especially if qualifications shift with another stimulus check. Our calculator tool doesn't retain your personal details in any way. 

5. How your stimulus money arrives matters

To get economic relief money out as quickly as possible to eligible Americans, the IRS and the Treasury Department took several approaches that included direct deposit, physical checks and prepaid EIP cards. According to the most recent numbers from the Treasury Department (in June), this is how the nearly 160 million payments break down:

  • Direct deposit: 75%, or 120 million
  • Paper check: 22%, or 35 million
  • Prepaid EIP debit card: 3%, or 4 million 

With the IRS continuing to urge people to set up direct deposit to receive payments straight to their bank account, that number could be even higher. It's expected you'll receive your money fastest with direct deposit, followed by the check and then the EIP card. The IRS automatically picks the payment method, but is likely to reopen its portal to register for direct deposit if you haven't already.

6. The fine print can get complicated quickly

When and if a second stimulus check does arrive, the details will require some unraveling. While some situations are straightforward, other complications about you and your dependents could make it unclear if you're eligible, the size of a check you should expect and when it's coming. Fringe cases abound. 

For example:

There's much more to know about other government payments during the pandemic. Here's what you need to know about a possible interest check from the IRS, the $300 federal unemployment benefit and the administration's payroll tax cut
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