Once it became clear that Americans would need financial relief in light of the COVID-19 outbreak, lawmakers acted fairly quickly, passing the CARES Act into law by late March. The CARES Act provided stimulus payments worth up to $1,200 for single tax filers earning $75,000 a year or less, and married couples filing jointly earning $150,000 a year or less.
Most of the stimulus payments due under the CARES have already been disbursed, and at this point, Americans are itching for a second check -- especially since many have already used up the stimulus money they received earlier on in the year. But while we don't know if lawmakers will approve a second stimulus payment, there are some clues that could tell us when such a check might arrive.
Keeping tabs on the Senate
Though the Senate is in the midst of a recess right now, lawmakers are set to return on Monday, July 20. And chances are, they'll be eager to hammer out a second relief package, especially in light of the fact that the COVID-19 outbreak has worsened in much of the country over the course of July.
Furthermore, the Senate is only scheduled to be in session through August 7, after which there's a break until early September. Given the urgency of the matter at hand, it's unlikely that lawmakers won't strive to come to an agreement between July 20 and August 7. And if we do have a stimulus deal by Aug 7, desperate Americans could be sitting on a second round of money by the start of September.
Remember, the IRS already has a system in place for sending out stimulus payments electronically. Those who received a refund on their 2018 or 2019 tax return and submitted direct deposit information for that money were able to receive a stimulus via direct deposit as well. Meanwhile, those without banking details on file with the IRS were able to use an online tool the agency set up to enter that information.
As such, it's feasible that if a second stimulus is approved in August, it will take just a matter of weeks to get that money directly into the hands of the people who need it the most. And given that the country is still grappling with a recession, that's a very good thing.
Will a second stimulus payment actually go through?
Republican lawmakers have pushed back on a second stimulus, saying it's less necessary than it was back in March due to the economy starting to open back up. But recent developments on the COVID-19 front could spur a change of heart.
It's very clear that on a national level, the outbreak is not slowing down, and as states roll back reopening plans and impose greater restrictions, the hope for a swift economy recovery is steadily being dashed. Ideally, lawmakers will recognize that a surge in COVID-19 cases means unemployment levels could spike again, and that alone may be grounds for a follow-up stimulus payment. It's too soon to know what that payment might amount to, but hopefully, we'll have an answer in a matter of weeks.