Every major stimulus check difference with the $1,400, $600 and $1,200 payments – CNET

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The three stimulus checks follow different paths.


Sarah Tew/CNET

How different the third stimulus check could be from the first and second payments is being worked out this week, as the Senate sets the details of the next payment in the next few days. Senate Democrats have already pitched one significant change that would alter who would be eligible for a stimulus check and how much of the $1,400 amount they could receive by ratcheting down income limits for a third payment.

If the Senate guideline is approved, the third stimulus check would look significantly different from the first $1,200 check and the second $600 payment. (More details in our chart below.) Any delay over the details of the third check’s income limits, or to any part of the $1.9 trillion relief package, could also push back when the IRS sends those $1,400 payments for individuals, families and dependents. (Here’s how you could get even more if you had a baby in 2020.) 

We’ve watched as Congress made changes from the first check to the second one, and have read through the version of the bill that’s now with the Senate. That gives us a good idea of how lawmakers view the next stimulus payment — here’s how the three checks stack up. This story was recently updated. 


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Stimulus check No. 3: What you need to know

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What the 3 stimulus check differences mean for you

With each round of stimulus payments, the House and Senate have reworked the payment amount and eligibility guidelines. While we know most of the proposed details of the third stimulus check — and they could change up to when the bill becomes law — there is one wild card. 

The IRS is in the middle of tax-filing season, so it’s unclear if the agency may not be able to turn around these third payments in a few days, as it did the second stimulus payments, or if there could be a delay in sending out the payments.

As the Senate works to complete its version of the bill this week, Democrats are looking to lower the income limit, the cutoff to receive a payment. That means some individuals and families could quickly phase out of receiving money with this round, even if they have dependents.

Three stimulus checks, compared

Third check (in the works) Second check First check
Maximum total (per adult) $1,400 $600 $1,200
Dependents (flat rate) $1,400 (any age) $600 (16 and younger) $500 (16 and younger)
Income to receive maximum amount Under: $75,000 (single); $112,500 (head of household); $150,000 (married) Under: $75,000 (single); $112,500 (head of household); $150,000 (married) Under: $75,000 (single); $112,500 (head of household); $150,000 (married)
Single taxpayer upper limit $100,000, or $80,000 if Senate changes $87,000 $100,000
Head of household upper limit $150,000, or $120,000 if Senate changes $124,500 $146,000
Filing jointly upper limit $200,000, or $160,000 if Senate changes $174,000 $198,000
Citizenship Mixed-status families, where one member has a Social Security number Citizens and noncitizens with a Social Security number Citizens and noncitizens with a Social Security number
Date approved By March 14 Dec. 27, 2020 March 27, 2020
First payments sent To be determined Dec. 29, 2020 April 13, 2020
Final payments issued Dec. 31, 2021 Feb. 16, 2021 Feb. 16, 2021
Number of payments made To be determined Over 147 million Over 160 million
Total dollar amount distributed To be determined $142 billion $270 billion

For more information, here’s what you need to know about stimulus checks today, including how to claim any missing stimulus money on your 2020 tax return and how to track your tax refund online.