Second stimulus check: 6 important things you need to know about another relief payment – CNET


What’s happening with a second stimulus check? We’ll tell you.

Angela Lang/CNET

It’s not easy to stay on top of what’s happening in Washington with a potential second stimulus check, but after more than a month of deadlock, there are faint indications of a final push for negotiations. No dates are officially scheduled, but we can predict the last day Congress can pass a bill before the Nov. 3 election

We’ve identified six key topics about the status of a second direct payment, which you can learn about below. This story is updated often.


Washington continues to talk about the need for more direct payments.

Angela Lang/CNET

1. A new stimulus check hasn’t happened yet

The stimulus check is not a foregone conclusion and right now its fate is tied to that of the overarching stimulus bill, which is stalled in bitter negotiations, or to an executive order, which President Donald Trump hinted at in early September, but which hasn’t developed since. Another direct payment has strong bipartisan support.

“It’s very important that we have stimulus that helps the areas of the economy that need support,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Monday. “I’ve told [Pelosi] I’m available anytime to negotiate, no conditions,” he said.

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2. The IRS might send a second check faster than last time

It took the federal government about two and a half weeks to send the first round of stimulus payments to eligible recipients. Mnuchin has said he could send them much faster this time, once a deal is inked.

“I could get out 50 million payments really quickly,” and start making payments a week after a bill is signed, Mnuchin said in August.

3. Qualifications could change

While we think a second stimulus check would largely follow the same guidelines as the first, eligibility requirements are subject to change. It might even benefit your family, if a new stimulus bill redefines who counts as a qualifying dependent.

Other notes on eligibility:

  • Your adjusted gross income, or AGI plays a huge role. 
  • People who aren’t required to file taxes — either because they receive federal benefits or are below the income level to file — could also get a check.
  • In the first check, children under 16 counted for $500 apiece toward the total check, but did not receive their own money

Less than a quarter of eligible recipients received their payment as a check in the mail.

Sarah Tew/CNET

4. You can already estimate your check size

If you’re still waiting for your first payment or are looking for an estimate for how much a second check could include, you can use our stimulus check calculator to get an idea for how much you, your family and your dependents could expect to receive, especially if qualifications shift with another stimulus check. Our calculator tool doesn’t retain your personal details in any way. 

5. How additional stimulus money could arrive

To get economic relief money out as quickly as possible to eligible Americans, the IRS and the Treasury Department took several approaches that included direct deposit, physical checks and prepaid EIP cards. According to the most recent numbers from the Treasury Department (in June), this is how the nearly 160 million payments break down:

  • Direct deposit: 75%, or 120 million
  • Paper check: 22%, or 35 million
  • Prepaid EIP debit card: 3%, or 4 million 

With the IRS continuing to urge people to set up direct deposit to receive payments straight to the bank account, that number could be even higher.

6. The fine print gets complicated quickly

When and if a second stimulus check does arrive, the details will require some unraveling. While some situations are straightforward, other complications about you and your dependents could make it unclear if you’re eligible, the size of a check you should expect and when it’s coming. Fringe cases abound. 

For example:

There’s much more to know about other government payments during the pandemic. Here’s what you need to know about a possible interest check from the IRS, the $300 federal unemployment benefit and the administration’s payroll tax cut