Every major stimulus check difference in the $1,400, $600 and $1,200 payments

March 4, 2021 0 By boss

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The three stimulus checks take different paths.


Sarah Tew/CNET

We already have a good idea how the third stimulus check could differ from the the first two payments, but as of Wednesday, a new proposal could change what we know about the next stimulus payment amount yet again. A potential new change to the stimulus check formula would also clip qualifications to some, by further scaling back income limits to a third check

The result could be a third check that looks much different than the first $1,200 check or the second $600 payment. (More details in our chart below.) Any delay over the details of the third check’s income limits, or to any part of the $1.9 trillion relief package could also push back when the IRS sends those $1,400 payments for individuals, families and dependents (here’s how you could get even more if you had a baby in 2020.) 

We’ve watched Congress make changes from the first check to the second payment, and have read through the version of the bill now with the Senate. That gives us a good idea of how lawmakers view the next stimulus payment — here’s how the three checks stack up. This story was updated with new information.


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What the stimulus check differences mean for you

With each round of stimulus payments, the House and Senate has reworked the payment amount and eligibility guidelines. While we know most of the proposed details of the third stimulus check — and they could change up to when the bill becomes law — 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 in sending out the payments. As the Senate takes up the bill this week, Democrats are considering lowering the upper income limit to receive a payment.

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, or $80,000 if Senate changes $87,000 $100,000
Head of household upper limit $150,000, or $120,000 if Senate changes $124,500 $146,000
Filing jointly upper limit $200,000, or $160,000 if Senate changes $174,000 $198,000
Citizenship Mixed-status families, where one member has a Social Security number Citizens and noncitizens with a Social Security number Citizens and noncitizens 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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