As reported by cnet,

America’s third stimulus check could shake up the rules even more.

Sarah Tew/CNET

As soon as Congress approved the $600 second stimulus check at the end of 2020, everyone from then-President Donald Trump to several Republican and Democratic senators to our new president have argued for more money. In a recent survey, 53% of Americans surveyed agree, saying the $600 second stimulus check won’t even see them through one month, according to Bankrate. (Bankrate and CNET share a parent company.) 

President Joe Biden and his administration are in favor of a larger payment. “We will not let people go hungry,” Biden said from the White House on Friday. “We cannot let people be evicted because of nothing they did to themselves.” Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package proposal includes a $1,400 third stimulus check, which would deliver a combined $2,000 maximum per person (when you add the second and third checks together). But more important for many, Biden’s proposal would also expand certain qualifications for the third stimulus check, which would make millions of families either eligible for the first time or able to receive more money for dependents who were left out of the previous two rounds.

Biden’s proposal doesn’t yet provide all the final details on a third payment, but it’s enough to start working out how much money households can expect, when the third check could come and — importantly — how those stimulus funds would be delivered. Tax season adds an extra wrinkle, since the IRS orchestrates both stimulus check allotments and tax refunds and returns. Here’s what we know so far about a third stimulus check, including how you can set yourself up during tax season to potentially get the new funds faster.

Could Congress vote on a new stimulus check as soon as Feb. 1?

The House of Representatives won’t be in session again until Feb. 1, but the plan is to bring a bill to the floor shortly after.

“We will be doing our committee work all next week so that we are completely ready to go to the floor when we come back,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday in a press conference.

It isn’t clear if this will be a sweeping stimulus package as suggested by Biden, or a smaller, piecemeal bill that focuses on a third stimulus check and COVID-19 vaccine distribution, as reported by Punchbowl News, a news outlet of former Politico journalists who report on Capitol Hill activities.

Will the check be $1,400 or $2,000? Could that change depending on who you are?

Biden’s stimulus plan calls for the next check to max out at $1,400 per eligible adult — not the $2,000 some originally expected. The idea is that this third check “raises” the $600 maximum set out in the second stimulus check to $2,000, once you combine the per-person payment totals.

Biden said during a Jan. 14 press conference that “we will finish the job of getting $2,000 in cash relief to people who need it most.”

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Second stimulus checks: Everything you need to know


“Even for people who have kept their jobs, getting this check is really important,” Biden added, noting that workers who worry about job security or getting sick would gain peace of mind and could also immediately spend the money on food and rent. “$2,000 is going to go a long way to ease that pain.”

We can’t say for certain why Biden chose $1,400 as the maximum instead of $2,000, but there’s been opposition to a $2,000 stimulus payment (more below). Combined with the $600 second check that went out in December, a full $2,000 would bring the combined total of up to $2,600 per person, without figuring in dependents. If Biden is trying to keep the proposal below $2 trillion, a larger stimulus check could push his $1.9 trillion stimulus bill proposal over the threshold.

One question on people’s minds is whether, if the qualifications were extended to new groups of people who weren’t included in the first round, the new recipients could get the entire $2,000 sum.

How would stimulus check qualifications be different?

Biden proposes two changes that have been popular among Democratic lawmakers. The first would expand qualifications to dependents of any age, including more than 10 million adult dependents, like college students, older adult relatives and children of all ages with disabilities. This would cover 13.5 million more people, according to the People’s Policy Project.

The second change to eligibility would include “all mixed-status households” (PDF) under Biden’s proposal. The term mixed-status household refers to households with one or more people who aren’t US citizens –for example, if the parents aren’t US citizens, but their children, who were born in the US, are. The second stimulus checks expanded eligibility to families with one citizen spouse.

How soon could the IRS send the checks and would there be another deadline?

The IRS and Department of the Treasury set a blistering pace to deliver the second stimulus checks, starting within days of Trump signing December’s stimulus bill. They had to. The language of the bill provided only a 17-day window to send the checks before the imposed deadline. There were millions of direct deposit errors, and now anyone missing stimulus money will have to claim it as part of filing 2020 taxes. (Yes, even tax non-filers, too.)

It’s too soon to say if the IRS would automatically send a third check to recipients as they have done with the second stimulus checks, or if the money would be wrapped up into a Recovery Rebate Credit. or something like it. We walk through more possible scenarios for the third stimulus check timeline here.

How would the third stimulus check affect the economy?

The idea of any stimulus check is for people to use it, either by paying for basic needs like rent and food or putting it back into the economy in other ways, such as by purchasing goods and services. Some have suggested that people who save their stimulus payments aren’t using the checks as intended, but the money is given free and clear, with very few exceptions as to how it’s kept or used.

Stimulus bills are clearly expensive and create national debt. If Biden’s proposal passes unchanged, it would cost $1.9 trillion.

“Neither the president-elect, nor I, propose this relief package without an appreciation for the country’s debt burden,” Janet Yellen, Biden’s pick for treasury secretary, said Jan. 18, CNN and others reported. “But right now, with interest rates at historic lows, the smartest thing we can do is act big.”


How much money could a third stimulus check really bring your household? We’ll soon see.

Sarah Tew/CNET

What are the biggest obstacles in the way of a third stimulus check?

There’s already pushback from Democrats in more ways than one. With the Senate evenly split, opposition from just one Democratic senator could sink the party’s hopes for a large third stimulus check.

“$2,000 means $2,000. $2,000 does not mean $1,400,” House member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat, said Jan. 14 to The Washington Post, referring to Biden’s earlier and repeated commitment to a $2,000 stimulus check.

On the other end of the spectrum, Sen. Joe Manchin, a centrist Democrat from West Virginia, expressed concern multiple times about the cost of a third stimulus check and suggested the financial aid could be better focused on those most in need of the money.

“How is the money that we invest now going to help us best to get jobs back and get people employed? And I can’t tell you that sending another check out is gonna do that to a person that’s already got a check,” Manchin said Jan. 8, later reportedly indicating he was “open” to hearing Biden’s case for a larger stimulus check, but prioritizes vaccine distribution

Many Republicans are expected to object to a new, high-priced stimulus package, especially one that more than double the size of the $600 stimulus check. With a newly Democrat-led Senate, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is counting on pushing the legislation through, especially with Vice President Kamala Harris set to act as a tiebreaker in the Senate.

What are the ways a $1,400 check could bring more money to families?

A larger maximum total per person is the obvious way your household would see more money from a third check than from the second, but there’s more to it than that. Since the upper limit for the second check is $600 per adult, with an extra $600 per child dependent, the way the IRS’ formula works out, more people hit the upper income limit for receiving a second payment, which means they won’t actually qualify to get any stimulus money at all.

A third stimulus check could:

Here are other ways a third stimulus check could put more money in your pocket.

For more information, here’s other funding that could be in the next stimulus package, how to calculate your second stimulus check payment and who may not qualify for a stimulus check.

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