Why You May Not Get a Second Stimulus Check Even if You Got the First One

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You may be surprised to find that more stimulus money isn't available to you.


Economists, leading business leaders, and the American public have been clamoring for another coronavirus stimulus bill for months, and lawmakers have finally reached an agreement to make that happen. The $900 billion deal that found majority support after months of partisan wrangling included a number of provisions designed to help struggling individuals and businesses cope with the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic

One of the key components of the coronavirus relief bill is a second stimulus check. Unfortunately, not everyone who received the first stimulus payment authorized under the CARES Act is in line to get money in their bank accounts this time around. Here's why you can't necessarily count on getting paid. 

Another stimulus check may not be on the cards for everyone

The new coronavirus relief bill makes a notable change to the second stimulus check. While the first CARES Act payment provided $1,200 in stimulus money for adults and $500 for eligible child dependents, the second payment will be smaller. Adults and child dependents each will receive $600 under the new relief bill.  

However, not all adults and dependents will get this money. That's because both the CARES Act and the new coronavirus legislation have income limits. For both the first and second checks, single filers with incomes under $75,000 and married joint filers with incomes under $150,000 should be entitled to the full amount of the COVID-19 money (provided they meet other requirements such as being U.S. citizens). With an income above these thresholds, however, the amount of your stimulus payment begins to phase out. 

And here's what the problem is for some higher earners with incomes above the $75,000 and $150,000 limits. The phase-out rules did not change with the second stimulus check, even though the size of the payment did. The amount of money you'll receive still phases out at a rate of $5 per $100 earned above the income thresholds.  

Since the first check allotted $1,200 per qualifying adult, single filers received at least some of the COVID-19 stimulus money with incomes up to $99,000 and married joint filers were eligible for a portion of the payment with incomes up to $198,000. 

But with the size of the check cut in half, the income at which you receive no stimulus payment at all is lower. If you make above $87,000 as a single filer or $174,000 as a married joint filer, you will not receive any stimulus money. In other words, single filers with no dependents who have incomes between $87,000 and $99,000 and married joint filers with no dependents and incomes between $174,000 and $198,000 generally will not be eligible for any second payment even though they got part of the first one. 

It'll probably come as a disappointment to not receive a payment this time, but it's best to be prepared for this reality so you don't expect a stimulus check to hit your bank account when one won't be coming.

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