Third stimulus check in 2021, if a second payment passes by next week? – CNET


Here’s what you need to know about a second stimulus check for 2021.

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Will Congress approve a second stimulus check before next week? That’s a likely outcome as negotiations over the final stimulus package of 2020 begin to stretch into the weekend. The ins and outs of the $900 billion bipartisan COVID-19 relief bill get complicated fast, but the bottom line is that there could very well be a second stimulus check for Americans that tops out at $600 per person, or half the $1,200 provided to eligible adults in the first stimulus check. (Two senators are still vying for the full $1,200 per person in a separate, standalone bill.)

Part of the reason we could see a second stimulus check in the package now — after weeks of proposals that excluded another direct payment — is that Republicans and Democrats seem willing to pause their debate on some programs for the time being. The intention is to pick them up again in perhaps a more sweeping package in 2021.

“It looks like they’re very, very close. And it looks like there’s going to be direct cash payments,” President-elect Joe Biden said Wednesday about the stimulus package. “But it’s a down payment, an important down payment, on what’s going to have to be done at the end of January and into February.”

This raises the question: If Congress approves a $600 stimulus check in 2020 and a larger stimulus package comes in 2021, is there a chance Americans could see a third stimulus check next year?

It’s a serious consideration, as new reports come to light amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. More than 8 million people have fallen into poverty since the summer, the Washington Post reports, citing a new joint study. Over 241,000 new positive COVID-19 cases have been reported daily as part of a seven day average, according to the COVID Tracking Project. And once again, 3,200 people have died in a single day

As the first vaccine for COVID-19 is being administered, health officials forecast it’ll take months for the majority of the population to get immunized.

Here’s what we know now about stimulus checks in 2021, depending on what happens in the near future. We recently updated this story with new information.

Read more: Want a third stimulus check? Here’s why the next Congress could hold the key

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Next stimulus checks: What to expect


A $600 stimulus check could be delivered in early 2021?

If another direct payment happens in 2020 as part of the COVID-19 bill, there’s a good chance that the IRS and US Treasury could send this second stimulus check to you faster this time. But there’s also the very real possibility that many people wouldn’t receive their payment until 2021.

It all depends on exactly when the bill would be approved, how quickly the IRS could act and then a range of factors that could make you first in line to receive another check, or closer to the back.

Is a third stimulus check in 2021 also possible?

In theory yes, it’s possible to see another stimulus check in 2021. The ins and outs start getting complicated, but there are three essential things to think about.

First, there’s a tremendous amount of support from both Republicans and Democrats for a second $1,200 stimulus check. The holdup has mostly been centered around resistance to certain elements within the overarching bill and the amount of spending overall, not necessarily the size of the check. The $600 reported sum is a compromise to get the bill passed in a short time.


Another stimulus check isn’t out of the running yet.

James Martin/CNET

Next, there’s precedent. In addition to current support, the fact that Democrats and Republicans agreed on a $1,200 sum earlier in 2020 makes it more likely to see them want to at least match that. A $600 check now would get the US halfway there.

Finally, a new government will be sworn in. A complicated and divisive runoff for two Senate seats in Georgia on Jan. 5 will decide if Republicans maintain control over the upper chamber or if Democrats will narrowly take control, through a 50-50 number of seats, with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking vote. The party in control also controls several key subcommittees, with the power to influences laws. A third stimulus check may have a greater chance of passing depending on the makeup of the next Congress.

Would a third stimulus check give you $600 or $1,200?

It’s far too soon to say if a third stimulus check would make up the difference and match any $600 per person payment in 2021, or if lawmakers would advance a completely new $1,200 payment to follow the footsteps of the first stimulus check.

Much will depend on who wins control of the Senate (see above) and what the new administration sees as its goals in rehabilitating an economic weakened by the coronavirus pandemic. 

For now, we wait and see what happens with the second stimulus check, while keeping an eye to early 2021.

For more information on stimulus checks, here’s how you might get more money in your next check, or a smaller payment next time around. Here’s who may not qualify. And this is a primer on the five different priority groups and when you might realistically be able to get another check if and when it’s passed, based on key dates.