$1,400, $600 and $1,200 stimulus checks: Major differences compared

February 26, 2021 0 By boss

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The three stimulus checks don’t follow the same path.


Sarah Tew/CNET

The goal for each round of stimulus check has been the same: Get money into people’s pockets to spend. But with each new stimulus check, Congress has changed the rules around the payment to better meet their objectives, from targeting money at all dependents to expanding payments to mixed-status families. The stimulus payment amount has also changed over the three checks, from $1,200 with the first payment to $600 for the second and now $1,400 for the third.

The proposed $1,400 payment is part of a $1.9 trillion stimulus package House and Senate Democrats are rushing to pass by the middle of March. In addition to distributing $1,400 payments to individuals and dependents, the sweeping rescue bill is set to renew unemployed worker benefits through August, add funding for COVID-19 vaccine distribution and possibly boost the federal minimum wage rate to $15 an hour.

The particulars of the first two payments are well known. The third check, not quite so much. From reading through the current version of the House bill, however, we have a good idea of what the final details of the third check could look like. Here’s how the three checks are similar and different.


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The three stimulus checks are not the same

Congress has tweaked the amount and other details of 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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