Stimulus checks compared: What’s new, the same and different with the 3 payments

February 23, 2021 0 By boss

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The three stimulus checks have major differences.


Sarah Tew/CNET

The third stimulus check outlines are coming into focus. The proposed next payment is part of a $1.9 trillion stimulus package Congressional Democrats are rushing to pass by the middle of March. Many of the details around the third payment — including who would qualify and when the IRS could start sending it out — still need to be settled. But we know enough about the shape of the third stimulus check that we can compare it to the first two rounds of payments to see what will look new and what will seem familiar.

To avoid a gap in federal unemployment payments that would expire March 14, Congress is rushing to finish the bill by that date. In addition to renewing unemployed worker benefits through August, the sweeping rescue bill is set to distribute $1,400 payments to individuals and dependents, add funding for COVID-19 vaccine distribution and possibly boost the federal minimum wage rate to $15 an hour.

The particulars around the first two payments are well known. The third check, not quite so much. From reading through the current version of the House bill (PDF), 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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Stimulus check No. 3: What you need to know



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Stimulus checks, side by side by side — and a wild card

While we know many of the proposed details around 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 with 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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