Second stimulus check update: What we know about the ‘dramatic’ IRS payment for 2020


White House and congressional leaders may begin work on a second stimulus package in the coming weeks.


Angela Lang/CNET

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To evaluate whether the US economy needs a second round of stimulus checks, members of the White and Congress are expected to consider the effects of the first round of stimulus checks on ordinary people. A new study (PDF) by the Center on Poverty and Social Policy at Columbia University advanced that without the stimulus money, America’s poverty level could have spiked from 12.5% before the pandemic to 16.3% today. 

The center predicted “if high unemployment rates persist beyond July 2020, additional income support will be needed” to keep poverty from soaring during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The study also notes the categories of people who aren’t eligible to receive the funds authorized by the CARES Act and that some eligible families are facing roadblocks receiving their benefits. The expanded unemployment benefits keeping some afloat are set to expire at the end of July.

President Donald Trump has expressed support for a second stimulus package.

“I think we’re working on something that’s going to be very dramatic, very good,” the president said last week, responding to a journalist’s question as to whether Americans should expect another stimulus check this summer. “I think we are looking at a Phase 4. Phase 1, 2 and 3 have been fantastic for people generally,” Trump said, referring to three earlier economic stimulus packages from the federal government. Only one of those phases included stimulus checks for individuals and families.

The definition of “dramatic” and the timeline for deciding if and when Washington will start work on a second stimulus package are still largely unanswered. Could the stimulus check proposal fail altogether? And what about talk of a $4,000 travel credit that’s been going around? Read on for what we know today, and what it will take to get a second round of checks in your hand. Here are the different government proposals we’ve heard so far. 

This story updates frequently with new information and is intended to provide an overview of the situation. If you’re still waiting on the first round, you can track the status of your stimulus check, see some possible reasons why you don’t have a check yet and learn how to report a missing stimulus check to the IRS.

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Congress is expected to start work soon on a new coronavirus stimulus bill that may put another $1,200 in your wallet.


Angela Lang/CNET

Stimulus check timeline: When exactly to expect a decision

Congress hasn’t set a date for a vote on a second stimulus package, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he hasn’t wavered from his July projection. 

“If there’s another [stimulus package], it will come together in July,” McConnell said Friday. “We need to take a look at how the economy is coming back, and decide whether or not we’re going to do one last rescue package. And I predicted we’d make that decision in July and I’ll continue to say that today.” 

The second relief package could very well be the last, he has previously said.

The Senate calendar includes a scheduled two-week recess, from July 3 until July 17, CBS News reported. White House officials also anticipate that the executive branch will work on its own proposal through July, The Wall Street Journal reported in early June. 

Before White House and Republican leaders begin negotiating the details of a new stimulus proposal, they want to evaluate how much money allocated to the first stimulus checks and other aid for businesses has actually been spent, CNBC reported.

When the Senate, House and White House negotiators do begin negotiations, they’ll be under pressure to reach a deal quickly, as the enhanced unemployment allowances for an additional $600 per month are set to expire July 31. 

Do we still need a second stimulus check? The unemployment debate heats up

Is a second stimulus check necessary? That question is at the heart of this debate.

Back in April, 82% of survey respondents said a one-time payment of $1,200 wouldn’t be enough, preferring a monthly payment through the end of the crisis. And a poll of over 6,000 Americans taken in May revealed that 30% had spent their stimulus check on household bills, indicating that the pandemic’s effects are taking a financial toll.

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A second stimulus bill could be the last for Americans affected by the coronavirus pandemic.


Angela Lang/CNET

“This direct support can make a critical difference not just in helping families and businesses in a time of need, but also in limiting long-lasting damage to our economy,” said Chair of the Federal Reserve Jerome Powell in remarks before the Senate Banking Committee last week.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in Senate testimony on June 10 that the US economy may need more help. “I think we’re going to seriously look at whether we want to do more direct money to stimulate the economy,” he said. “This is all going to be about getting people back to work.” 

For those looking for signs that the US economy is already recovering without the need for a second boost, the US unemployment rate appears to be improving (PDF), or at least getting less dire. New jobless claims dropped slightly by 58,000 to 1.5 million for the week of June 13, the Labor Department reported (PDF), as more businesses reopen and re-employ hospitality, service and construction workers. 

On June 5, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported (PDF) that the US unemployment rate in May declined by 1.4% to 13.3%. Following the labor report, some in Washington asked if the US economy is already heading in the right direction without further government assistance. 

“It takes a lot of the wind out of the sails of any Phase 4,” Stephen Moore, a White House adviser, said about the job numbers and a second stimulus package, as quoted in The Washington Post. “We don’t need it now. There’s no reason to have a major spending bill. The sense of urgent crisis is very greatly dissipated by the report.”

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OECD/Screenshot by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

Others in Washington caution against reading too much into one month’s unemployment numbers. A report from the OECD earlier in June says COVID-19 has “triggered the most severe economic recession in nearly a century.” 

“There is good reason to be skeptical,” wrote former White House economic adviser Robert J. Shapiro, pointing to other numbers that suggest the jobless rate in May rose by 5.7% to 19%. Whatever the real May jobless numbers turn out to be, the US economy in February entered a recession, ending an economic expansion that started in June 2009, the National Bureau of Economic Research reported this month

Even with a reduced May unemployment rate, the US still has one of the highest rates of out-of-work job-seekers in the world, according to the OECD report. And despite the dip in new Labor Department filings, the numbers represent 13 straight weeks that more than 1 million out of work Americans filed for unemployment for the first time.

It’s unknown how the US economy will react to a spike in coronavirus infections, with cases soaring in the US and around the world as they reopen.

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How much money a second stimulus check could bring

It’s too soon to pinpoint how much money individuals and families could receive. First, it depends on the size of the rescue package as a whole. This figure has already drawn fierce debate, with the House proposing $3 trillion, McConnell seeking a $1 trillion cap and the president suggesting at least $2 trillion in June, according to White House trade advisor Peter Navarro. 

Then it depends how much of the package would be allocated for individuals and families. Remember that the CARES Act that passed in March also included money for small businesses and enhanced unemployment benefits. For reference, the first stimulus check gave individuals up to $1,200 with a total of $2,400 for couples who file for taxes jointly. Dependents under 17 years old netted another $500 apiece. 

Here’s a snapshot of who’s eligible for the first check, based on how you file for taxes:

  • Single US residents who have an adjusted gross income less than $99,000
  • Heads of household who earn under $146,500
  • Couples that file jointly without children and earn less than $198,000

Nonresident people who aren’t citizens (termed nonresident aliens) and people who are currently incarcerated did not qualify for the first stimulus check.

Is the IRS done sending the first wave of stimulus checks?

While it’s already made tens of millions of stimulus payments to eligible Americans, the IRS has more to go. As of June 3, the agency had made 120 million payments as direct deposit to bank accounts, 35 million as mailed checks and nearly 4 million as mailed prepaid debit cards, for 159 million payments total. The House Ways and Means Committee estimated (PDF) as many as 35 million Americans could still be owed a payment.

If you didn’t get your money yet, here are 10 possible reasons for a delay. If you’re worried you were supposed to receive your check and didn’t, here’s what you can do

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Even with some businesses starting to open, the US has a staggeringly high unemployment rate.


Angela Lang/CNET

What will it take to get a second stimulus check and what happens now?

For now, we wait for July, when Washington plans to begin work on the next stimulus package. To receive a second check, the proposed rescue package would need to pass both the House and the Senate before receiving a signature from the president. Only then could it take effect. After that, the IRS now has a system in place to organize and distribute those checks. But it could be weeks more before you receive a payment.

We’ll continue to update this story with new information as it arises. While the future of a second stimulus bill remains undecided, we’ll share available resources about unemployment insurance, what you can do if you’ve lost your job, what to know about evictions and late car payments and how to take control of your budget.





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