Third stimulus check update: New $1,000 proposal, qualifications, when it could arrive

January 31, 2021 0 By boss

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America’s third stimulus check could shake up the rules even more.


Sarah Tew/CNET

new stimulus bill proposal from 10 Republican senators on Sunday paints a picture of a $1,000 stimulus check that goes to people who make $50,000 a year or less and a change to the stimulus check formula that would send a partial payment to fewer people overall. While much more restrained than President Joe Biden’s pitch for a $1,400 stimulus check, the GOP proposal is the latest expression among some lawmakers to create a more targeted stimulus check that would go out to fewer people, a theme that could color negotiations over Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package in the days and weeks to come.

Whether Democrats seek bipartisan agreement from Republicans or attempt to approve the larger, $1,400 stimulus check could become clearer this week after the House of Representatives returns to Washington on Monday, after committees spent the past week working on the framework for an upcoming stimulus bill. Will it expand the stimulus qualifications to include dependents of any age and families with mixed-status citizenship? What else could change?

Here’s what we know so far about how much money households might expect, when the next stimulus check could come and — importantly — how those stimulus funds would be delivered. Tax season adds an extra wrinkle, since the IRS orchestrates both stimulus check allotments and tax refunds and returns. Here’s what we know so far about a third stimulus check, including how you can set yourself up during tax season to potentially get the new funds faster.

What’s a ‘targeted’ stimulus check and why do some people want it?

The simple explanation is that some people are concerned that a stimulus check for $1,400 will go out to a proportion of people at relatively high income levels. For example, using our stimulus calculator for the third check, a person could make $102,900 per year (their adjusted gross income) and still get a partial payment… of $5. 

The point is that if lawmakers want people who make below $75,000 per year to get $1,400, there are going to have to be adjustments to how things are done. One way would be to change the stimulus check formula that was used in the first two checks. Another would be to present an arbitrary cutoff (e.g., a check would only go out to people who make under a certain amount per year, as per their AGI). A third could be to lower the maximum amount of the next stimulus payment (because, math). Our stimulus check article explains more.

On Jan. 31, a group of 10 Republican senators proposed a stimulus check that would change all three parts of the equation. It would drop the maximum to $1,000 per adult, drop the AGI threshold from $75,000 a year to $50,000 a year to receive the full $1,000 and would change the formula to make it so fewer people would get a partial payment overall — and the amount they would get would be smaller.

At the White House on Jan. 25, Biden said he was “open to negotiate” the income limits for a third check. “There’s legitimate reason for people to say, ‘Do you have the lines drawn the exact right way? Should it go to anybody making over X-number of dollars or why?'” he said. “This is all a bit of a moving target in terms of the precision with which this goes.” 

If the third check ends up being for $1,400, could some people still get $2,000?

Biden’s stimulus plan calls for the next check to max out at $1,400 per eligible adult — not the $2,000 some originally expected. The idea is that this third check “raises” the $600 maximum set out in the second stimulus check to $2,000, once you combine the per-person payment totals — but without factoring in dependents.

We can’t say for certain why Biden chose $1,400 as the maximum instead of $2,000, but there’s been opposition to a $2,000 stimulus payment (more below). If Biden is trying to keep the proposal below $2 trillion, a larger stimulus check could push his $1.9 trillion stimulus bill proposal over the threshold.

One question on people’s minds is whether, if the qualifications were extended to new groups of people who weren’t included in the first round, the new recipients could get the entire $2,000 sum.

Could Congress vote to approve a new stimulus check this week?

The House of Representatives is in session on Monday, but it isn’t clear if the plan is to still bring a bill of any kind to the floor shortly after, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested Jan. 21. 

Democrats had reportedly looked into a smaller, piecemeal bill that focuses on a third stimulus check and COVID-19 vaccine distribution, but on Thursday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki and others in the administration backed one bill, not two. A single COVID-19 relief bill is projected to be ready for a mid-March vote.

Would other stimulus check qualifications change in the third payment?

Biden proposes two changes that have been popular among Democratic lawmakers. The first would expand qualifications to dependents of any age, including 13.5 million more people, according to the People’s Policy Project, like college students, older adult relatives and dependents of all ages with disabilities (not just those under 17 years old).

The second change to eligibility would include all “mixed-status households” with one or more family members who aren’t US citizens. For example, if the parents aren’t US citizens, but their children, who were born in the US, are. The second stimulus checks expanded eligibility to families with one US citizen spouse.

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How much money could a third stimulus check really bring your household? We’ll soon see.


Sarah Tew/CNET

How quickly could the IRS send the new checks? Would there be another deadline?

The IRS and Department of the Treasury set a blistering pace to deliver the second stimulus checks, starting within days of former President Donald Trump signing December’s stimulus bill. They had to. The language of the bill provided only a 17-day window to send the checks before the imposed deadline. There were millions of direct deposit errors, and now anyone missing stimulus money will have to claim it as part of filing 2020 taxes. (Yes, even tax nonfilers, too.)

It’s too soon to say if the IRS would automatically send a third check to recipients as they have done with the second stimulus checks, or if the money would be wrapped up into a Recovery Rebate Credit. or something like it. We walk through more possible scenarios for the third stimulus check timeline here.

How could a $1,400 check bring more money to families?

A larger maximum total per person is the obvious way your household would see more money from a third check than from the second, but there’s more to it than that. Since the upper limit for the second check is $600 per adult, with an extra $600 per child dependent, the way the IRS’ formula works out, more people hit the upper income limit for receiving a second payment, which means they won’t actually qualify to get any stimulus money at all.

A third stimulus check could:

Here are other ways a third stimulus check could put more money in your pocket.

For more information, here’s other funding that could be in the next stimulus package, how to calculate your second stimulus check payment and who may not qualify for a stimulus check.



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