It’s true, a second stimulus check is back on the table: Everything to know today


We’ll tell you what you need to know about the next stimulus check and you.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Does a second stimulus check for $1,200 have a chance of passing or is a $600 direct payment a sure thing? When will Congress really bring its bipartisan, $900 billion COVID-19 stimulus bill to a vote? And how soon could a second stimulus check arrive for for qualified adults and their dependents

We can help answer these shifting questions about a second stimulus check, including which payment priority group would you be in, how much money another direct payment could bring your household and how you could get your next payment faster next time. 

We also walk you through your stimulus check rights and other key facts you need to know right now. Keep reading for the latest about the second stimulus check in the next stimulus bill. This story updates often with new information.

Read more: You want a third stimulus check? That might depend on the new Congress

The new $900 billion stimulus bill is nearing a vote, but…

The timeline to vote on the finished stimulus bill and its second stimulus check keeps shifting. Part of that has to do with the fact that a bill to continue funding the government is also intertwined with the COVID-relief legislation, as an attempt to pass two critical bills at once before the end of the year.

The latest is that the House of Representatives could vote as soon as Sunday afternoon, but that could leave legislators with scant time to review an enormous bill. A vote may look more likely now to spill over to Monday, followed by a vote in the Senate before a bill that’s past both chambers of Congress goes to President Donald Trump for a signature to become law.

A $1,200 stimulus check unlikely to pass in 2020

 A $1,200 second stimulus check was already a long-shot at this point in the stimulus package negotiations, especially since so many details about a $600 per person check have already been hammered out, and how close the deadline is to vote on the COVID-19 relief bill before the end of 2020. 

On Friday, a last-dash effort from Sens. Josh Hawley, a Republican, and Bernie Sanders, an independent, failed to bring a standalone bill (PDF) for a $1,200 stimulus check to a vote.

At the beginning of the week, no version of a bipartisan stimulus package included a check at all, which is an indication of how quickly the situation can change. Until a final bill has been signed into law, technically anything could happen — however, time is not on its side.

The $600 second stimulus check could shift two things

If a second stimulus check is approved as part of the new $900 billion bill, it could change at least two things (that we know about so far). The first is the total amount you might get: $600 per qualifying adult and $1,200 for married couples filing jointly — yes, this is largely based on your tax status, but more on that below.

It’s believed that the same sliding scale that applied to the first stimulus check would carry through to the second, which means that single taxpayers with an AGI under $75,000 a year would be eligible for the full sum. 

What could change that would have an impact on the amount of money your second stimulus check could contain is if the new direct payment also awarded $600 to each of your dependents, regardless of age, as The Washington Post reported. Here’s some payment math (follow the link) to demonstrate how that could work out for your household.

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Next stimulus checks: What to expect


A third stimulus check in 2021? Sure, it could happen

Whether or not the latest economic relief package passes — with or without a second stimulus check — it’s likely that we’ll see yet another relief effort underway in 2021, when President-elect Joe Biden takes office. 

“It looks like there are going to be direct cash payments,” Biden said of the $900 billion stimulus bill on Wednesday. “But it’s a down payment, an important down payment on what’s going to have to be done at the end of January and into February.”

Whether that means there will be a second or third stimulus check in 2021 is unknown at this point, but it may not be out of the realm of possibility. The fate of a second or third direct payment and another, larger stimulus bill may rest on what happens with the new Congress in January.


The December COVID-19 relief package is seen as a stopgap for a larger stimulus bill in 2021.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Your next check will likely be delivered in order of payment group

Eligible Americans got the first stimulus money at different times, based on five de facto priority groups. The same system would likely be used if a second check is approved. For example, people who have set up direct deposit with the IRS — an electronic transfer of funds into their bank account — are expected to get their payment weeks before those who receive a paper check or prepaid EIP card in the mail. Here’s a more detailed explanation of the payment groups.


When will you get a second stimulus check? The first check was sent out in staggered groups.

Angela Lang/CNET

Not everyone will qualify for a second stimulus check

If the eligibility requirements change with another direct payment along with the maximum amount, or if maybe your life circumstances have shifted in the past 9 months, you and your family could find that you may not be eligible for a second stimulus check.

Remember, with the first round of checks, Congress set income limits based on your adjusted gross income and a long list of fringe requirements besides. Read more about stimulus payment qualifications here. Here’s how you can estimate how much you’d probably get if a (third) future check were to remain at $1,200 apiece. And here’s how the IRS determined how much money you got for the first payment.

It took the IRS 19 days to deliver the first check. Now it could go faster

With the first check, the IRS was tasked to create an online registration and payment tracking tool, as well as a payment schedule for more than 160 million people. It took 19 days before the first wave of payments was delivered. 

The hope is that the process could go smoother and faster with a second check. The tracking tool is already up and running, the system is in place and it’s probable that the majority of people who qualified for a first check would also receive another. 

The timeline is constantly changing, but we’ve mapped out potential dates a check could be sent if approved before — or after — Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration. Here’s what you can do now to help speed up the delivery of your personal check.

If money is missing from your first check, you can claim it

Guess what? The IRS might still owe you money from the first stimulus check payout. It may be that some money was left out for child dependents, or that an interpretation of a rule changed (this really happened). Or it could be that you fell through the cracks with your personal situation, that you didn’t think you qualified but you actually do and just need to take an extra step, or that some other error kept you from getting the total amount you were entitled to. Since the Nov. 21 deadline to file your claim has passed, you’ll now need to wait until tax season in 2021 to register for a payment from the IRS. Stay tuned for more information as we get closer.


You still have a few weeks to claim a stimulus check this year.

Angela Lang/CNET

You don’t have to file your taxes to qualify for a payment

While taxes and stimulus checks are tied together, you don’t need to have filed a tax return to qualify for a check. If you’re over age 65, for example, and receive Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability Insurance, you could still qualify for a stimulus check under the CARES Act. You might need to take an extra step to request your payment (you had until Nov. 21 for the first batch) to get your check.

Your 2020 stimulus check is not considered taxable income

The IRS doesn’t consider stimulus money to be income. That means a payment you get this year won’t reduce your refund in 2021 or increase the amount you owe when you file your 2020 tax return. You also won’t have to repay part of your stimulus check if you qualify for a lower amount in 2021. The IRS said if you didn’t receive everything you were owed this year, you can claim it as a credit on your 2020 federal income tax return by filing in 2021.

There are important rule exceptions to know

If a second stimulus check is approved, there will be lots of small details, rules and exceptions that may be confusing. While some situations will be easy to understand, others concerning you and your dependents might make it unclear if you’re eligible and how much money you might receive because there are many fringe cases.

For example:

Certain issues could delay your check, such as if you recently moved.

Your stimulus money can’t be taken by a landlord, but…

In most cases, your check is yours to spend or save how you want and it isn’t taxable. But there are a few situations where the state or federal government or a debt collector can take all or part of your check to cover a debt, such as if you owe child support. Here’s what you need to know about who can and can’t garnish your stimulus check.

For more information about stimulus payments, you can check in on what’s happening with stimulus negotiations right now, find out what Biden plans for a stimulus bill and see which federal benefits expire at the end of the year.

This IRS formula helped decide the size of your payment

Predicting what your payment could end up being isn’t straightforward. The IRS used a formula to determine how much stimulus money you got for the first check. Something similar for a second payment would determine whether you receive the full amount or a partial payment, even if the maximum amount per person ends up being $600. 

It also explains how you might still be able to get some stimulus money even if your family’s yearly income exceeds the limit set out by the CARES Act in March. The calculation starts with your household’s total adjusted gross income, adds on the money allotted to qualifying dependents and then deducts from the total based on your income bracket (as defined by the CARES Act). 

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