What You Need to Know and Your Questions Answered
The second stimulus check package will send direct stimulus payments of $600 to individuals. Eligible families would receive an additional $600 per child.
The payments start phasing out for individuals with adjusted gross incomes of more than $75,000, and those making more than $99,000 would not receive anything. The income thresholds would be doubled for couples.
The amounts will be based on 2019 incomes. Those who filed their 2019 tax returns will receive their money automatically, as well as Social Security recipients and those who uploaded their bank account information using the IRS's online portal to receive their first payments.
Undocumented immigrants who don't have Social Security numbers remain ineligible for the payments. But in a change from the first round, their spouses and children are now eligible as long as they have Social Security numbers.
What does the new package cover?
The jobless will receive a $300 weekly federal enhancement in benefits for 11 weeks, from the end of December through March 14, 2021 under the deal.
Also, the agreement calls for extensions of two other pandemic unemployment programs that were created in the CARES Act in March. Both are currently set to expire in December, affecting an estimated 12 million people.
Also, the new package provides a federally funded $100 per week additional benefit to those who have at least $5,000 in annual self-employment income but are disqualified from receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance because they are eligible for regular state unemployment benefits.
Small business loans
The new package will reopen the Paycheck Protection Program so that some of the hardest-hit small businesses can apply for a second loan.
The second loans would be limited to those with fewer than 300 employees that have seen drops of at least 25% of their revenue during the first, second or third quarter of 2020. It would also reduce the amount a borrower can receive from $10 million to $2 million, give businesses more flexibility on how they spend the money and simplify the forgiveness process for loans under $150,000.
It carves out $12 billion for minority-owned businesses. It also expands eligibility to more nonprofits as well as local newspapers, TV and radio broadcasters.
The bill will extend until January 31, 2021 the eviction protection set to expire at the end of the year. It also will provide $25 billion in rental assistance for individuals who lost their sources of income during the pandemic.
Frequently Asked Questions
As with the first round of checks, the new stimulus package only calls for one additional payment. However, some lawmakers see this latest package as a stopgap measure to provide some relief until more relief can be enacted after President-Elect Joe Biden is inaugurated. So, will there be a third round of stimulus checks down the road? It's a possibility.
Everyone wants to know how much money they will get. You may have heard that your second stimulus check will be for $600—but it's not that simple. That's just the base amount (which is half as much as the first round of payments). Your check could actually be much higher or lower.
To calculate the amount of your check, the package will start with the $600 figure. If you're married and file a joint tax return, then both you and your spouse will get $600 (for a total of $600). If you have children who qualify for the child tax credit (they must be 16 years old or younger), you get an additional $600 for each child. So, for example, a married couple with two children can get up to $2,400.
Stimulus payment amounts will be phased-out for people at certain income levels. Your check will be gradually reduced to zero if you're single, married filing a separate tax return, or a qualifying widow(er) with an adjusted gross income (AGI) above $75,000. If you're married (or a surviving spouse) and file a joint tax return, the amount of your stimulus check will drop if your AGI exceeds $150,000. If you claim the head-of-household filing status on your tax return, your payment will be reduced if your AGI tops $112,500.
Also note that the IRS, which will issue the payments, will look at your 2019 tax return for your filing status, AGI, and information about your children.
No. As with the first-round payments, your second stimulus check is actually just an advanced payment of a new "recovery rebate" tax credit for the 2020 tax year. As such, it won't be included in your taxable income.
You also won't be required to repay any stimulus check payment when filing your 2020 tax return—even if your second stimulus check is greater than your 2020 credit. If your second stimulus check is less than your 2020 credit, you'll get the difference when you file your 2020 return.
Soon! Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said checks will start going out during the last week of December 2020. But, the overall process could take about 2 months to complete. That's good, since the IRS generally won't be sending any second stimulus checks after January 15, 2021—that restriction is included in the new law.
If the IRS already has your bank account information—either from a recent tax payment that you made or from a tax refund it sent you—then expect to get your second stimulus check faster. That's because the IRS will be able to directly deposit the payment into your bank account. The IRS can also make a second stimulus payment to a Direct Express debit card account, a U.S. Debit Card account, or other Treasury-sponsored account. Otherwise, you'll get a paper check in the mail.
You can check the status of your stimulus payment at IRS.gov/GetMyPayment. The site is currently offline, but should be working soon, the Treasury Department said.
Some people didn't file a tax return for the 2019 tax year because their income didn't reach the filing requirement threshold. However, if you receive benefits from the Social Security Administration, Railroad Retirement Board, or Veterans Administration, the IRS will get information from those federal agencies to calculate the amount of your second stimulus check if they don't have a 2019 tax return with your name on it.
However, even if you don't get a check now, you won't lose out on the money—you'll just have to wait until you file your 2020 tax return to get it (the IRS is expected to start receiving tax returns in late January or early February 2021). As we already noted, the checks that will be sent now are really just advanced payments of a new 2020 tax credit. So, if the IRS doesn't send you a second stimulus check by January 15, 2021, you can claim it as a refund or reduction of the tax you owe when you file a 2020 tax return. (You'll have to file your return, or request an extension, by April 15, 2021.)
Unfortunately, if you had a child in 2020, you won't get an additional $600 in your second stimulus check for him or her. That's because your new bundle of joy wasn't claimed as a dependent child on your 2019 tax return. You can, however, get an additional $600 recovery rebate credit for your new baby on your 2020 tax return.
If you filed a 2019 tax return and claimed your child as a dependent, you'll get an extra $600 added to your second stimulus check for that child—as long as your son or daughter qualified for the child tax credit in 2019 (i.e., was 16 years old or younger).
And don't sweat it if your child turned 17 in 2020 and, therefore, won't qualify for the child tax credit on your 2020 return. You won't have to pay back the extra $600.
Anyone who can be claimed as a dependent on someone else's tax return (whether or not they're actually claimed as a dependent) won't receive a second stimulus check and can't claim the recovery rebate credit on their 2020 tax return. That means no payments to children living at home who are 17 or 18 years old, or to college students who are 23 or younger at the end of the year who don't pay at least half of their own expenses.
Other dependents won't receive stimulus payments, either. For example, an elderly parent living with you is out of luck and won't get a check.
Your second stimulus check is not subject to reduction or offset to pay back taxes, child support, or other debts owed to the federal or a state government. (If you owed child support, the IRS could use first-round stimulus check money to pay arrears.)
In addition, second-round stimulus checks aren't subject to garnishment by creditors or debt collectors. They're can't be lost in bankruptcy proceedings, either. The IRS will also have to encode direct deposit payments so that banks know they cannot be garnished.