If no $2,000 second stimulus check instead of $600, how much would you really get? – CNET

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Your second stimulus check could be around half as much as the first — but there’s more.


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Just how likely is it that your second stimulus check could get you up to $2,000 instead of $600? It’s a massive jump, and one President Donald Trump pushed Congress to take, seemingly a condition to sign the $900 billion stimulus bill Congress passed Monday. But as of Thursday, a $2,000 second stimulus check per qualified adult is still a long shot.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement Thursday that she’ll bring a standalone bill for a $2,000 maximum direct payment for a vote come Monday, when Trump will have “hopefully” signed the stimulus package. But the enormous raise isn’t considered likely to pass the Senate.

It also isn’t clear if the $600 payment for child dependents would stay the same or if other rules, like the formula used to calculate your total, would shift. But we do know all those details for a $600 maximum check. As we wait for more news, we’ll help you figure out how much money a second stimulus check would bring you overall, comparing the maximum sum households could get with a $600 or $2,000 second stimulus check. (Here’s who might not qualify.) This story updated recently with new details.

$2,000 second stimulus check: 5 things you’ll want to know

  • If approved, a $2,000 stimulus check would be the maximum a person could receive. Couples could expect a ceiling of $4,000.
  • This would be a one-time payment, just like the first stimulus check.
  • It isn’t clear how much money, if any, child dependents would contribute to the total — it could remain at $600 apiece for the sake of simplicity.
  • If successful, the increase would raise the total cost of the stimulus bill well over $1 trillion.
  • The complex formula, which uses your adjusted gross income and determines the amount you’d ultimately receive, would change, potentially making more households able to qualify for more money for relatively higher earners. With the $600 check, this formula means more families wouldn’t qualify for a second stimulus check (more below).


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Second stimulus checks: Everything you need to know

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$2,000 versus $600: What’s the most money you could get in each stimulus check?

If a second stimulus check does pass, each household would stand to collect much more money than with the $600 check, that much is clear. But just how much, when you add in child dependents? We compared the two side by side, assuming that children would still count for $600 apiece in the household total. This chart represents the maximum you could get, but many would in fact receive partial payments as a result of diminishing returns based on your AGI, or other eligibility factors.

Stimulus check money: $600 vs. $2,000

$600 stimulus check ($600 per child age 16 or under) $2,000 stimulus check ($600 per child age 16 or under)
Individual taxpayer, no child dependents $600 maximum $2,000 maximum
Head of household, 1 child dependent $1,200 maximum $2,600 maximum
Head of household, 2 child dependents $1,800 maximum $3,200 maximum
Head of household, 3 child dependents $2,400 maximum $3,800 maximum
Married couple, no child dependents $1,200 maximum $4,000 maximum
Married couple, 1 child dependent $1,800 maximum $4,600 maximum
Married couple, 2 child dependents $2,400 maximum $5,200 maximum
Married couple, 3 child dependents $3,000 maximum $5,800 maximum

$600 stimulus check: Why fewer people would automatically qualify

If the $900 billion stimulus bill does in fact pass as is, some people won’t receive the full $600 allotment per adult in the second stimulus check. It turns out that the IRS uses the same formula to calculate the amount you would receive based on your adjusted gross income, or AGI, and using a sliding scale. But because the base amount is lower ($600 versus $1,200 from the first check), the rest of the math works out differently, too. It is not necessarily split in half.

For example, with the first ($1,200) check, a single tax filer who had an AGI under $75,000 received the full $1,200. As the income level rose, the total they were entitled to receive dropped. After $99,000, they wouldn’t be eligible to get anything at all. 

But with the $600 maximum amount, the cutoff is still $75,000 to receive the maximum amount, but following the formula laid out in the text of the bill, the cutoff to receive a check of any amount as an individual (with no children) is an AGI of $87,000. So with the first check, any individual taxpayer who made between $87,000 a year and $99,000 still received a partial check. This time around, they would not receive any.

Children change the equation, which is why we recommend using our stimulus check calculator for a better estimate of your personal financial picture (it does not store or use your personal information.)

$600 second stimulus check income limits

AGI to receive full amount AGI to phase out of payment Income limit for first check
Single tax filer Under $75,000 $87,000 $99,000
Head of a household Under $112,500 $124,500 $146,000
Married, filing jointly Under $150,00 $174,000 $198,000

What if another $1,200 stimulus check happens in 2021?

If a $1,200 stimulus check materializes in 2021, or maybe just in case you’d like to play a game of hypotheticals, we did some math based on previous proposals on how much more stimulus money some people could potentially see if certain rules changed.

More people qualify as a dependent: One Democratic proposal has expanded the definition of “dependent” to include anyone you can claim on your tax returns — such as children over 16 and adults under your care. That would be $500 more per person you support, with potentially no cap. If you had one dependent who qualified in the first round and three that qualify in the second, that would get your family $1,000 more if you had no other changes.

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The amount of stimulus money you could get in a second round of checks is still undetermined. 


James Martin/CNET

Child dependents get more money: The most recent White House proposal would keep the same age restriction for children, but double the payout to $1,000. So if you have one dependent, your second check could be $500 larger.

You gain another dependent: If you had or adopted a child, you may see $500 to $1,000 more, depending on the final bill.

Your employment status changed: If you became unemployed this year or your wages dropped, that could lower your AGI, which is used to determine the payment. For example, if you got a partial payment with the first check, you may receive a full payment if you are no longer employed.

You got married: Depending on several variables that include your spouse’s filing status and any new dependents, a change in marital status could result in a larger check. For example, if you were single and filing alone, you got $1,200 max. Married, you could be eligible for $2,400 maximum, since the IRS formula used to determine your total stimulus money is based on your combined household income.

You now share custody of a child: If you meet specific qualifications, you and the child’s other parent may both be entitled to claim extra stimulus money. That means you could get $500 more in the second check, especially if anything in your situation changed from the time you filed your 2018 tax return to 2019. The second check allowance will be based on your most recent tax filing.

A rule change concerning incarcerated people becomes permanent: A federal judge has ruled that the IRS owes stimulus checks to inmates in prison who qualify. If the ruling stands, these people may be entitled to a second stimulus check of up to $1,200, as well as the first. That’s a potential $2,400 total for individuals, with more potential money for dependents.

You’re an “undocumented immigrant”: Democrats propose that undocumented US residents should be eligible for stimulus relief funds if they pay taxes, as part of the Heroes Act that passed the House of Representatives in two forms, but which is not law. If that qualification goes through, it could mean that some people who did not get a check as part of the CARES Act could get a second check. If it works retroactively, individuals may be eligible for both payments. This is contingent, along with the rest of the stimulus check qualifications, on the details of a new law.

There’s a potential for $1,200 to $2,400 for this group, with more for dependents. For a married couple with two young children who didn’t receive the first check, the second round could possibly yield as much as $3,400.