$1,400, $600, $1,200 stimulus checks: The biggest differences compared

February 28, 2021 0 By boss

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The three stimulus checks follow different plans.


Sarah Tew/CNET

The goal of the third check is the same: Get stimulus money into people’s pockets as soon as possible. But Congress is taking a different route accomplish that aim, changing who would qualify for a payment and how much they would receive. The result is, the new $1,400 payment could look very different to many who received the first $1,200 check or that second $600 payment.

The new round of stimulus payments are part of the nearly $2 trillion relief package that Democrats are pushing to approve within two weeks. In addition to sending $1,400 payments to individuals and dependents, the relief bill that is now with the Senate is set to renew unemployed worker benefits through August, increase funding for COVID-19 vaccine distribution and potentially raise the federal minimum wage rate to $15 an hour.

Over the last year, we’ve studied 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 lawmakers intend to meet the same goals with the third check. Here’s how the three stimulus checks are similar and different.


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Each stimulus check is different from the others

With each round of checks, Congress has reworked the payment amount and eligibility elements. 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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