New stimulus check: $600 vs. $700 vs. $1,200. Every way your final payment could change – CNET

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


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In the blink of an eye, the stimulus package now being negotiated among top US lawmakers (they even have a nickname, “The Four Corners”) went from having no second stimulus check to another direct payment. This time, it could come in at half of the $1,200 sent as part of the CARES Act. The whispers we’ve heard so far suggest the second stimulus check could give you a maximum of either $600 or $700, a rate that reflects the relatively smaller size of the $900 billion stimulus proposal. (The CARES Act cost $2.2 trillion.)

This is the latest in a string of murmured changes to a second stimulus check. Various proposals since May have shifted one qualification or another in ways that could potentially bring a household more money than the first stimulus check. 

Remember, not everyone is guaranteed the full $1,200. And there’s actually quite a complex formula that determines how much money you got in your final check based on your AGI and the number of eligible child dependents in your household. (It gets even trickier when you consider child support situations.)

But lowering the stimulus check ceiling is a new suggestion. While we don’t have the details yet, a different proposal from the White House last week suggested that adults (according to the IRS definition) and their qualified children should each receive $600. That’s $600 less per adult than with the first check, but $100 more per child. The stimulus check that began arriving in April allotted $500 per child dependent.

Until we know for certain all the ins and outs of the new proposal for a second stimulus check, here’s how we think the new payment caps could shake out for you and your family. In addition, here are all the ways you could get less money in a second stimulus check — beyond a smaller government payout — and here’s who may not qualify for any stimulus payment at all.


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Your $1,200 stimulus check versus a smaller second stimulus check

Splitting the amount you got for your first stimulus check in half isn’t necessarily the best way to calculate how much you might get with a second direct payment. Remember that children might wind up being allocated more money on their behalf this time around. We also aren’t certain yet if the total check amount would be for $600, $700 or somewhere in between. You also may not receive the entire total.

This chart gives you an idea of how much a household could get if they did receive the full benefit of a second stimulus check for three possible maximum sums. We’ll update this as more information becomes available.

Stimulus check money: $600, $700, $1,200

$600 stimulus check ($600 per child) $700 stimulus check  ($600 per child) $1,200 stimulus check ($500 per child)
Individual taxpayer, no children $600 maximum $700 maximum $1,200 maximum
Head of household, 1 qualified child $1,200 maximum $1,300 maximum $1,700 maximum
Head of household, 2 qualified children $1,800 maximum $1,900 maximum $2,200 maximum
Head of household, 3 qualified children $2,400 maximum $2,500 maximum $2,700 maximum
Married couple, no children $1,200 maximum $1,300 maximum $2,400 maximum
Married couple, 1 qualified child $1,800 maximum $1,900 maximum $2,900 maximum
Married couple, 2 qualified children $2,400 maximum $2,500 maximum $3,400 maximum
Married couple, 3 qualified children $3,000 maximum $3,100 maximum $3,900 maximum

How much larger could your second payment be with a $1,200 second stimulus check and a rule change?

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 come people could potentially see if certain rules changed.

More people qualify as a dependent: The Democratic proposal for the next bill expands the definition of “dependent” to include anyone you can claim on your tax returns — such as children over 16 and adults under your care. By today’s sums, that’s $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.

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.

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


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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.