After a day of proposals and debate in the Senate, we’re no closer to understanding who could expect to get(or ). Some senators may prefer passing a new stimulus package that closely follows that went into effect in March.
“If the parameters stayed the same, we could do it really quickly,” Sen. John Thune, a Republican from South Dakota, said, according to The Washington Post.
Not everyone, however, including House Democrats, wants to follow the CARES Act payment requirements, some hoping to cast a wider net for people who were passed by with the first round of stimulus checks, others wishing to lower the income limit, resulting in fewer people receiving a check.
Either way, discussions are on to retool the guidelines based on age, annual taxable income, citizenship, marital status, the number of dependents you claim and government benefits. Keep reading for the latest on a second direct payment. This story updates frequently with new information.
Would more people be eligible for a second stimulus check?
The broadest eligibility parameters suggested so far come from the Heroes Act (PDF), which was proposed by the House of Representatives in mid-May. It has been fiercely opposed by Senate Republicans and President Donald Trump, who called it DOA. We can look to this bill to help frame the conversation about the upper limits of who might qualify for a broad proposal:
- Individuals who made less than $99,000 according to the adjusted gross income from their 2018 or 2019 taxes (whichever was most recently filed).
- College students, dependents over 17, disabled relatives and taxpayers’ parents.
- Families of up to five people.
- SSDI recipients.
- People who aren’t US citizens and do file tax returns, pay taxes and otherwise comply with federal tax law using an individual taxpayer identification number instead of a Social Security number.
Will Congress tighten the requirements for another check?
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said that if the Senate, which his Republican party controls, passes another relief bill that includes more stimulus checks, the focus will be narrow. Based on speculation, here’s who might not be eligible for a second stimulus check.
Nobody qualifies: A stimulus package could be signed into law that gives tax credits and other incentives to businesses. It’s possible some people could get a travel or dining credit, but not a check.
People who make “too much” money: If another round of stimulus payments does pass, but allocations are smaller for IRS payments, it’s probable that income limits could become more strict. You may need a lower maximum yearly income (AGI on the tax form) to qualify. In other words, people who make more than a certain amount (that’s lower than the current cutoff of $99,000 for individuals) could potentially be left out of a second round. One example is a $40,000 per year income cap, first raised by McConnell (more below).
Carryover exclusions from the current CARES Act: Young people between 18 and 24, people who aren’t US citizens but pay taxes, people who are incarcerated.
Here’s who didn’t qualify for the first stimulus payment
Let’s review who the first round rejected:
- Single taxpayers with an adjusted gross income above $99,000.
- Heads of households with an AGI over $136,500.
- Married couples with an AGI over $198,000.
- Children over 16 and college students under age 24.
- Nonresident aliens, as defined by the US government.
Income limit: Is a $40,000 earnings cap under discussion?
It’s been suggested that the next stimulus check would only go out to people who make $40,000 a year or less. The supposed income limit — which is not final — came from remarks made by McConnell on July 6, who answered a reporter’s question about the second stimulus check by saying: “I think the people who have been hit the hardest are people who make about $40,000 a year or less. Many of them work in the hospitality industry. So that could well be a part of it.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi questioned McConnell’s proposed salary cap. “I don’t know where the $40,000 came from,” she said during a July 9 press conference. “I think families making over $40,000 probably need assistance, depending on their situation.”
That figure doesn’t scale across all US markets. In San Francisco, for example, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development defines “very low income limits” at $60,900 for a single earner and $87,000 for a family of four, based on 50% of the metro area’s median income in 2020. That would be well above any $40,000 cutoff.
That the $40,000 figure McConnell cited may have come from an open letter published June 16 from over 150 economists, led by Ben Bernanke, the former chair of the Federal Reserve, which stated that “among people who were working in February, almost 40% (PDF) of those in households making less than $40,000 a year had lost a job in March.”
When will Congress decide on stimulus payment qualifications?
We won’t know anything for sure until a stimulus bill comes into clearer focus, but we have a good idea.
For more, here’s what we know about the. We also have information on , and .