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Here's Why Your Second Stimulus Check Could Differ From the First

By Maurie Backman – Jul 30, 2020 at 6:36AM

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If the HEALS Act goes through, Americans' next stimulus payment may not be the same amount as the first one.

In late March, the CARES Act was signed into law, and one of its most notable provisions was a one-time, direct stimulus payment worth up to $1,200 per adult, and $500 per dependent under age 17. Those payments have kept millions of households afloat as the country grapples with a recession and unprecedented levels of unemployment. But at this point, many of those who received a stimulus payment have exhausted those funds and need additional relief.

So lawmakers have been working to hammer out a second COVID-19 relief package, and earlier this week, Republicans revealed their plan, known as the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection, and Schools Act (or HEALS Act). It would extend boosted unemployment payments (albeit at a lower rate than the CARES Act allowed for), offer up another round of PPP loans, and send out another round of direct stimulus payments. But the money you get in that second round could differ from what you received in the first.

Man holding hundred-dollar bills in both hands

Image source: Getty Images.

What will your second stimulus check amount to?

First, let's get one thing out of the way: The HEALS Act has not been signed into law, so all of the following assumes that it does indeed pass. But if that happens, Americans will be in line for up to $1,200 per adult, plus $500 per dependent, similar to the first round of stimulus checks that went out.

The income thresholds for receiving a stimulus payment under the HEALS Act are the same as they were under the CARES Act. Here's what you can expect:

If This Is Your Tax-Filing Status:

You'll Get a Full Stimulus Payment With Earnings Up To:

You'll Get a Partial Stimulus Payment With Earnings Under:

Single

$75,000

$99,000

Head of household

$112,500

$136,500

Married filing jointly

$150,000

$198,000

Data source: CNBC.

The above is not accurate in all cases, because it assumes you don't have dependents. But it gives you a general idea of how much to expect under the HEALS Act.

You may be thinking, "Won't I just get the same amount I got a few months ago?" But here's why that may not be the case. First, the CARES Act paid $500 in stimulus cash only for dependents under the age of 17. The HEALS Act will pay $500 for dependents of any age. Therefore, if you have an 18-year-old who's listed as a dependent on your tax return, you may be eligible for an extra $500 this time around that you didn't get before.

Furthermore, stimulus payments under the CARES Act were based on your most recent tax return. If you hadn't submitted your 2019 return before those payment went out, your eligibility would've hinged on the income you reported for 2018. Many people, in fact, did not have their 2019 taxes done by the time the first batch of stimulus payments went out, since this year's tax-filing deadline was pushed back to July 15. But at this point, a lot more people have filed a return for 2019, and if you fall into that category, it could either work for you or against you.

If your income in 2019 was higher than it was in 2018, then you may get a smaller stimulus payment under the HEALS Act (or even none at all). On the flip side, if your income was lower in 2019 than it was 2018, you could have more money coming your way.

If the HEALS Act passes, there's a good chance stimulus payments will hit Americans' bank accounts fairly quickly. The IRS already has a system in place to get that money distributed, so if the bill is signed into law between now and Aug. 8, when the Senate is scheduled to recess again, eligible recipients could have their cash by September.

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