Third stimulus check rules could change: How much money would you get if they do?

February 1, 2021 0 By boss



A $1,400 stimulus check per qualified adult? Here’s how to calculate how much money you’d get with this upper limit.

Sarah Tew/CNET

In December, a third stimulus check was synonymous with $2,000. Now it’s $1,400. And on Sunday, a group of 10 Republicans petitioned to make a third payment a maximum of $1,000 per qualified adult — with additional changes to the stimulus check formula that would have the net effect of sending the new payment to fewer people overall.

While Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has reportedly rebuffed the GOP pitch as a non-starter, according to New York Daily News, the $600 proposal presents a different way of looking at a third stimulus check, one that could dramatically contract the amount your household would receive. Conversely, new qualifications for dependents and mixed-status families could increase your future third stimulus payment. The end result would depend on the final stimulus package as negotiations are poised to begin.

Though nothing is certain till Congress approves a third stimulus check (even the timeline is a struggle), we’ll walk you through some possible scenarios.

Stimulus calculator: This could be your total if a $1,400 check is approved

Let’s say that a third stimulus check does get approved for $1,400, with all the current rules in place. As with the first two rounds, the total per person limit isn’t necessarily what you’d get in a final payment. Depending on circumstances such as your adjusted gross income, eligible dependents and other qualifications, you could get a lot more or less. 

For the sake of simplicity (and because there’s no formal stimulus bill quite yet,) the calculator below follows the same formula the IRS used for both stimulus checks so far, and keeps the $600 flat rate for child dependents from the second stimulus check. President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package proposal would seek to include dependents of all ages, including college students and older adults, so go ahead and add them now. You’ll need your AGI to get started. CNET’s stimulus calculator doesn’t store or use your personal details, and provides estimates only.

Calculate your $1,400 stimulus check total

Use details from your 2019 tax return.

1. Choose your filing status below.

What would happen if a “targeted” approach like the $1,000 Republican proposal is adopted?

Even if the $600 billion stimulus proposal (PDF) doesn’t make it out the gate, it’s significant for seeking to simultaneously lower the maximum dollar amount per person, the base income you need to get the full payment and the amount you could make per year (your AGI) before you don’t get any stimulus money at all. That’s an approach that some negotiators could potentially adopt if they wanted a “targeted” way to send a stimulus check to fewer people

Why the $1,400 sum automatically qualifies more groups of people, for now

When Congress dropped the second stimulus check limit to $600, it automatically disqualified many people, simply because it lowered the income limit (as a result of math). 


How much money you get and who gets it all hinge on small changes Congress will decide.

Angela Lang/CNET

For example, with the first check, a single tax filer who earned under $75,000 since their previous tax return received the full $1,200. As their adjusted gross income level rose, the total they were entitled to receive dropped. After $99,000, they weren’t eligible to get anything at all. 

Fast-forward to the $600 maximum amount in the second check. The cutoff remained $75,000 to receive the total, but using the formula laid out in the text of the bill, the threshold to receive any amount of stimulus money as an individual (with no children) is an AGI of $87,000. Make more than that, and you’re not eligible for a check. 

A third stimulus check for $1,400 would raise that income threshold, making a single taxpayer eligible to receive a full or partial payment up to an AGI of $103,000. With a $2,000 stimulus check, that cutoff to receive a partial payment would be $115,000 for a single taxpayer. (According to the formula used by the IRS, and a $1,400 per person limit, single taxpayers who make $102,900 a year would get a $5 stimulus check.)

Children change the equation, which is why we once again recommend using our stimulus check calculator for a better estimate of your personal financial picture.

Lawmakers seeking to target the third stimulus check could succeed in sending it to fewer people by changing the upper income limit, for example by making it smaller than $1,400 maximum. Or they could change the formula so fewer people could get a partial check. We’ll have to wait and see what happens.

$600 vs. $1,400 vs. $2,000: 8 examples to compare the maximum limits

Going from $600 to a $1,400 or $2,000 check is a huge leap any way you look at it, and we wanted to highlight just what a difference the three numbers make with a handy chart below. The $1,000 proposal from 10 Republican Senators is intriguing, too. For now, we’ll stick with these three figures because they all use the same formula, which makes it easier to compare apples to apples. We’ve also kept the $600 flat rate per dependent in the chart below — this figure could change when and if there’s a final bill.

The figures represent the highest amount a household could get, but remember that just like the first and second payments, there will be reasons some people may not get the full amount

We know that Biden wants to expand eligibility in the third stimulus check to dependents of any age, a move that would make approximately 13.5 million more adult dependents able to count toward the household total, according to The People’s Policy Project. Biden’s proposal would also appear to include all families with mixed citizenship status; that is, where at least one family member is a US citizen.

Stimulus check maximums: $600 vs. $1,400 vs. $2,000

$600 stimulus check ($600 per child age 16 or under) $1,400 stimulus check ($600 for dependents of any age) $2,000 stimulus check ($600 per child age 16 or under)
Individual taxpayer, 0 dependents $600 maximum $1,400 maximum $2,000 maximum
Head of household, 1 dependent $1,200 maximum $2,000 maximum $2,600 maximum
Head of household, 2 dependents $1,800 maximum $2,600 maximum $3,200 maximum
Head of household, 3 dependents $2,400 maximum $3,200 maximum $3,800 maximum
Married couple, 0 dependents $1,200 maximum $2,800 maximum $4,000 maximum
Married couple, 1 dependent $1,800 maximum $3,400 maximum $4,600 maximum
Married couple, 2 dependents $2,400 maximum $4,000 maximum $5,200 maximum
Married couple, 3 dependents $3,000 maximum $4,600 maximum $5,800 maximum

For more information on stimulus checks, here’s how to report missing stimulus money to the IRS, what to do if you’re missing any stimulus money and all the important things you need to know about stimulus checks and your taxes.


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