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Stimulus check 2: How much money might a second payment bring? – CNET

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The first stimulus checks for up to $1,200 have mostly gone out. Now the government is considering a second payment to get us through the coronavirus pandemic.

Angela Lang/CNET

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It’s been three months since Congress agreed to distribute stimulus checks to help Americans absorb the financial blow caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Now the question of a second round of stimulus checks is on the table. What does it all mean for you? Will there be new terms for eligibility, will you qualify and how much money might come your way?

Right now the answer isn’t so clear. The thought of free money may be appealing, but the headlines of the day underscore that the situation is serious. First-time unemployment claims topped 1 million (PDF) for the 13th straight week, the Labor department revealed on June 18, and the US is now in a recession, according to another US agency. 

A second stimulus check isn’t a sure thing, and even if a larger rescue package passed, the question of how much individuals and families might expect is still undecided. White House economic advisers along with House and Senate leaders are weighing if the US needs another check or if other incentives would be a better approach to help stabilize businesses and rehire workers.

In March Congress passed an act that provided stimulus checks of up to $1,200 per person. Now even if a second stimulus check were agreed upon, it isn’t clear how much money individuals and families would get. There are a lot of factors at play, including how much the total relief bill would include, and how much of that money would be earmarked as direct checks to you. President Donald Trump, the Senate and the House of Representatives have all put a different dollar figure on their proposal — from $1 trillion to $3 trillion. 

There’s no guarantee you could get another stimulus check, but proponents include Trump, the Democrat-led House and the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell.

“This direct support can make a critical difference not just in helping families and businesses in a time of need, but also in limiting long-lasting damage to our economy,” Powell said in remarks before the Senate Banking Committee on June 16.

Here’s what we know about how much stimulus money you might expect to receive from three competing government proposals. This story updates frequently and is intended to provide an overview of the situation. 

If you’re still waiting for your first stimulus check, here are 10 possible reasons for a delay and what you can do if you think your payment is lost or fallen through the cracks.  

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How much money could I get from a second stimulus check?

So far, a few numbers have been thrown around. $1,200 per eligible recipient. $6,000 maximum per family. $2,000 per person per month until January 2021 — or maybe $2,000 per month until the pandemic ends

Those are some suggestions from prominent Democrats. The Senate and White House have yet to chime in with their preferences and projections, but we’re keeping our ears and eyes peeled for hints. 

Remember that how much you get will eventually depend on who you are. For example, even if the bill passes, there will certainly be eligibility restrictions based on criteria like how much money you make annually, your age and your US citizenship or residency status, to name a few qualifications applied to the first stimulus check.

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Did the first round of stimulus checks do enough?

Sarah Tew/CNET

Would a second stimulus check arrive the same way?

The first stimulus payments have arrived via direct deposit, as a paper check and as a prepaid debit card. It’s possible that the way some people get a second payment would be different the second time around. 

The House Financial Services Committee held a virtual hearing last week to discuss “digital dollars,” a payment method that could make it easier for some recipients to receive their stimulus money, especially if they don’t have a bank account, Fast Company reported.

How could a second stimulus check help the economy?

The goal of the second stimulus check would be the same as the first: to help individuals and businesses affected by the coronavirus outbreak. That includes people who couldn’t work because they got sick, were furloughed or cut to part time or lost their jobs when businesses closed to slow the spread of COVID-19. 

According to the World Bank, we are in the deepest global recession in decades. Americans continue to show concern about the state of the economy since the start of the pandemic, according to a June 5 poll by the Financial Times, with more than a third now saying a global slowdown is the biggest threat to the US economy.

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Under the backdrop of high unemployment and a potentially lengthy recession ahead, some wonder if the first check did enough for individuals, families, businesses and those who are out of work. The question of future stimulus checks rests in part on how best to distribute additional aid.

In June, the Labor Department reported (PDF) that 1.9 million Americans filed new unemployment insurance claims for the last week of May, with 21.5 million receiving unemployment benefits by the week of May 23. That was actually a drop, as more people went back to work, with the national unemployment rate declining from 14.7% in April to 13.3% in May, as states allowed businesses to reopen and hire or rehire employees.

The White House vision for the second stimulus check

The White House plan is still taking shape, according to The Wall Street Journal, with Trump and his economic advisers looking to boost the US economy with incentives for workers to find new employment or return to their preexisting jobs, eat at restaurants and take vacations, for example. 

The president has already expressed support for a second round of checks. “We’ll be asking for additional stimulus money,” he said earlier this month. “Because once we get this going, it’ll be far bigger and far better than we’ve ever seen in this country — that includes as of three or four months ago, when everyone thought it was great and it was great.” 

Expanding on the president’s remarks, late last week, White House adviser Peter Navarro tweeted that the president is looking for at least $2 trillion for the next stimulus package, “with a bulk of that focused on bringing home our manufacturing base,” Navarro said. It isn’t clear how much of that would go to stimulus checks for individuals and families.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the White House will begin sketching out its own proposal for a second stimulus package this month. Presidential advisers are expected to focus on initiatives that could help the US economy recover, such as incentives for workers to find jobs and for people to spend money in their town.

The White House is also considering reducing unemployment payments to $250 or $300 a week during the second half of the year, which Republicans believe will induce people who lost their jobs to find work. Currently, payments are $600 a week, as part of the CARES Act passed in March. The enhanced benefits expire July 31.

The president continues to push for payroll tax cuts, an idea he brought up in March. “We will be going for a payroll tax cut,” he said earlier this month, “which will be incredible in terms of what we are doing because we are going to be bigger and better than we ever were.”

The White House is also looking at tax breaks for those who take a vacation in the US (PDF) this year to encourage spending, the Journal reported. Japan has taken a similar approach to encourage domestic travel. Presidential aides predict the terms of its package won’t be completed until July, according to the Journal.

What does the Heroes Act propose?

The House of Representatives, which has a Democrat majority, passed the Heroes Act on May 15. The bill, which has not passed the Senate and is not law, seeks a wide range of benefits for households, renters and people who live in the US and are not citizens, according to a fact sheet from the House Appropriations Committee (PDF). Because it’s already passed the House, the details of this stimulus proposal are the best known.

But that is no guarantee it will pass the Senate. In fact, McConnell has already dismissed the bill, as has the White House, saying the House package is “more concerned with delivering on longstanding partisan and ideological wishlists.”

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Here are its outlines.

Individuals: An eligible person would receive up to $1,200 if their adjusted gross income, or AGI, from their 2019 federal tax filing or 2018 filing (if you haven’t filed taxes yet) was less than $75,000 and incrementally decrease as the AGI goes up.

Children and dependents: Each dependent would qualify for a $1,200 payment, unlike the first stimulus bill, which capped up to three children at $500 apiece. It would apply to college students, children over 17, disabled relatives and a taxpayer’s parent.

Families: Households would qualify for a maximum payment of $6,000 total, capped at five family members at $1,200 apiece. The amount you’d be eligible to receive would decline the higher your AGI is.

People who aren’t US citizens: Noncitizens who file tax returns, pay taxes and otherwise comply with federal tax law using an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN) instead of a Social Security number would qualify for a payment.

Unemployment benefits: The bill would carry over the current enhanced unemployment benefit of $600 per week (on top of states’ typical unemployment payout) to January 2021.

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A House plan would mail out another round of payments.

Angela Lang/CNET

What are Republican leaders offering?

Senate Republicans, led by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have sketched out the guidelines they want to follow for a second round, including a cap on the size of the bill and a stipulation it will be the final stimulus package related to the coronavirus pandemic.

McConnell said the Senate may start work on the package after its planned July recess, Bloomberg reported, which is scheduled to run from July 3 until July 17.

McConnell said a second bill would be narrowly focused and not exceed $1 trillion, Axios reported in late May. In comparison, the CARES Act is a $2 trillion package, the same amount the president targeted. The Heroes Act proposes to spend $3 trillion.

  • The Senate package could include provisions to reduce liability for doctors and businesses from coronavirus-related lawsuits, the Journal reported.
  • It could include assistance for small businesses and health care.
  • If the package is approved, McConnell said it would be the last coronavirus stimulus package Congress passes.

Second stimulus check: What comes next?

While White House and congressional leaders may spend the next few weeks working on the outlines of their proposals, it’s not till the end of July that Washington is expected to begin hammering out the details of a second stimulus package, including if it will include a second round of payments for individuals and families and how much, if anything, they might expect in a check. 

While the prospects for a second package seem promising — “The odds of a Phase Four deal are very, very high,” White House adviser Kevin Hassett told the Wall Street Journal this month — until Congress actually passes the bill and the president signs it into law, we’ll have to stand by.

While we wait to learn more about a second proposal, here’s information about unemployment insurancewhat you can do if you’ve lost your jobwhat to know about evictions and late car payments and how to take control of your budget.

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