Second stimulus check money: What to know about your $600 payment – CNET

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


Sarah Tew/CNET

The second stimulus check is already going out to tens of millions of eligible Americans, and despite President Donald Trump and congressional Democrats pushing to increase the $600 upper limit for the direct payment to $2,000, the Senate ended its Friday session without voting on a $2,000 bill, leaving the second stimulus check maximum at $600 per head.

However, now that those $600 checks are settled, and being delivered through direct deposit, physical checks and EIP cards, we finally have definitive answers to your questions about how much money you can expect to receive with your second stimulus check.

To give you a running start on how much you could expect, we can help you calculate your stimulus check total. We dig into the details of how much you and your family members will qualify for and who might not qualify. None of it is as simple as it seems. This story was updated recently with new details.

$600 per person isn’t so simple. The most you and your household could receive

The IRS takes into account a handful of factors to determine the size of your check. Below, you’ll find the maximum you and your family could expect, with and without qualifying child dependents. Keep in mind that many people would in fact receive partial payments as a result of diminishing returns based on adjusted gross income or other eligibility factors.

Stimulus check money you can expect

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

$600 maximum payment: Why fewer qualify for a second stimulus check

Now that the $900 billion stimulus bill is approved, we know 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 stimulus check), the rest of the math works out differently, too. It is not necessarily split in half.


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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 weren’t eligible to get anything at all. 

But with the $600 maximum amount, the cutoff is still $75,000 to receive the maximum amount. But using 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 will 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

8 ways you could get more money with a third stimulus check

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

More people qualify as a dependent: Previous proposals 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 or $600 more per person you support, with potentially no cap. If you had one dependent who qualified in the first two rounds and three that qualify in the third, that would get your family $1,000 to $1,200 more if you had no other changes.

Child dependents get more money: A White House proposal from October offered to keep the same age restriction for children but double the payout to $1,000. So if you have one dependent, your third check could be $500 greater than the first check and $400 larger than the second, per qualified dependent.

You gain another dependent: If you had or adopted a child, you may see $500, $600 or $1,000 more, depending on the  amount stipulated in the next (hypothetical) bill.

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

You get 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 the first time around. 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 an extra $500 or more in the third check, especially if anything in your situation changed from the time you filed your 2019 tax return to your future 2020 return. The third check allowance would 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 third stimulus check as well as the first two, with more potential money for dependents.

You’re an undocumented immigrant: Democrats have proposed that undocumented US residents should be eligible for stimulus relief funds if they pay taxes (through an ITIN number), as part of the Heroes Act that passed the House of Representatives in two forms, but which isn’t law. Currently, you need to have a Social Security number to be eligible for a stimulus check.

If a third stimulus check arrives for $1,200 — just to pick a figure — that would mean 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 third round could possibly yield as much as $3,400 if the allocations were to follow the first stimulus check.