Trump wants to send you a $2,000 second stimulus check. How much would you really get? – CNET


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

Sarah Tew/CNET

President Donald Trump threw a wrench in the government’s plans to send a second stimulus check worth as much as $600 per qualifying adult, saying in a video Tuesday evening that he would ask Congress “to amend this bill and increase the ridiculously low $600 to $2,000, or $4,000 for a couple.” Congress has adjourned until January, but leaders could potentially call them back for a vote.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi responded on Twitter, “At last, the President has agreed to $2,000 — Democrats are ready to bring this to the Floor this week by unanimous consent. Let’s do it!” 

Earlier in the day, President-elect Joe Biden committed to a third stimulus check. The total amount could depend on who controls the Senate after Jan. 5.

House Democrats could attempt to pass the bill quickly on Thursday, a CBS news reporter tweeted, using a tactic that would take advantage of Representatives’ absence to speed along passage of a vote. 

Even if the House of Representatives passed a standalone bill with a second stimulus check for up to $2,000 per adult, would it become law? And when? What would that mean for the $600 stimulus check currently in limbo with the $900 stimulus package that Trump now says he won’t sign?

While we don’t have the answer to every question yet, we can note that even if the House does authorize a standalone $2,000 second stimulus check, it can’t become law without also being passed in the Senate. Normally, the president’s signature completes the transition of a bill into a law, but Congress could override Trump’s potential veto of the existing $900 billion stimulus bill with a two-thirds majority vote from both chambers.

While we wait for more news, here’s what we know so far about how much money you could expect from the current stimulus package that Congress unanimously passed Monday night. Below, we’ve created a chart to illustrate how that small raise will impact the total sum of your second stimulus check

We update this story often as the situations in Washington develops.

3 points you need to know about a $600 stimulus check

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Second stimulus checks: Everything you need to know


Same stimulus check formula, but less money

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

For example, with the first 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. Married couples filing together (with no children) won’t get a second check if their AGI is $174,000 or above. 

For reference, here are the other income limits from the first ($1,200) stimulus check. They do not account for child dependents:

  • Head of a household: AGI under $112,500 limit (full amount) to under $146,500 (sliding scale). You won’t qualify at $146,500 or above.
  • Married, filing jointly: AGI under $150,000 (full amount) to under $198,000 combined (sliding scale). You won’t qualify at $198,000 or above.

$1,200 versus $600: What’s the difference for a second stimulus check?

It bears repeating. 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 for up to $600 per adult. The chart below gives you an idea of how much a household could get if it did receive the full benefit of a second stimulus check

As a reminder, the $600 sum per child dependent applies only to children under 17 years old. You also may not get the entire total per adult.

Stimulus check money: $600 versus $1,200

$600 stimulus check ($600 per child age 16 or under) $1,200 stimulus check ($500 per child age 16 or under)
Individual taxpayer, no child dependents $600 maximum $1,200 maximum
Head of household, 1 child dependent $1,200 maximum $1,700 maximum
Head of household, 2 child dependents $1,800 maximum $2,200 maximum
Head of household, 3 child dependents $2,400 maximum $2,700 maximum
Married couple, no child dependents $1,200 maximum $2,400 maximum
Married couple, 1 child dependent $1,800 maximum $2,900 maximum
Married couple, 2 child dependents $2,400 maximum $3,400 maximum
Married couple, 3 child dependents $3,000 maximum $3,900 maximum

What if a $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 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.


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.