$1,400, $600, $1,200 stimulus checks: Biggest differences compared

February 27, 2021 0 By boss



The three stimulus checks follow different paths.

Sarah Tew/CNET

With the third stimulus check, Congress is heading down a different path than it took with the first two rounds of payments. The destination is the same: Put stimulus money into people’s pockets as soon as possible. But the route Congress is following with the new $1,400 payment may look different to many who received that first $1,200 payment or the second one for $600.

The proposed $1,400 payment is part of a $1.9 trillion stimulus package that just passed the House and that Democrats are pushing to approve by the middle of March. In addition to distributing $1,400 payments to individuals and dependents, the relief bill is set to renew unemployed worker benefits through August, add funding for COVID-19 vaccine distribution and potentially raise the federal minimum wage rate to $15 an hour.

We know how Congress designed the first two payments to help struggling families and boost the economy. From reading through the just-passed version of the House bill (PDF), we also have a good idea of how Congress intends to meet the same goals with the third check. Here’s how the three checks are similar and different.

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Stimulus check No. 3: What you need to know


No stimulus check is the same as the others

Congress has tweaked the amount and other details of the stimulus checks with each round it approves. While we know many of the proposed details of the third stimulus check, there is one wild card. The IRS is in the middle of tax-filing season, so it’s unclear if the agency may not be able to turn around these third payments in a few days, as it did the second stimulus payments, or if there could be a delay. 

Three stimulus checks, compared

Third check (in the works) Second check First check
Maximum total (per adult) $1,400 $600 $1,200
Dependents (flat rate) $1,400 (any age) $600 (16 and younger) $500 (16 and younger)
Income to receive maximum amount Under: $75,000 (single); $112,500 (head of household); $150,000 (married) Under: $75,000 (single); $112,500 (head of household); $150,000 (married) Under: $75,000 (single); $112,500 (head of household); $150,000 (married)
Single taxpayer upper limit $100,000 $87,000 $100,000
Head of household upper limit $150,000 $124,500 $146,000
Filing jointly upper limit $200,000 $174,000 $198,000
Citizenship Mixed-status families, where one member has a Social Security number Citizens and non-citizens with a Social Security number Citizens and non-citizens with a Social Security number
Date approved By March 14 Dec. 27, 2020 March 27, 2020
First payments sent To be determined Dec. 29, 2020 April 13, 2020
Final payments issued Dec. 31, 2021 Feb. 16, 2021 Feb. 16, 2021
Number of payments made To be determined Over 147 million Over 160 million
Total dollar amount distributed To be determined $142 billion $270 billion

For more information, here’s what you need to know about stimulus checks today, including how to claim any missing stimulus money on your 2020 tax return and how to track your tax refund online.


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