Next stimulus check: 9 things to know today now that Trump has COVID, talks continue

Here’s what’s happening with a second stimulus check today. Angela Lang/CNET President Donald Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis and return to the White House to continue treatment for the coronavirus has created more pressure for Democrats and Republicans to reach a deal that could fund a second stimulus payment and other measures to push through the […]

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Here’s what’s happening with a second stimulus check today.


Angela Lang/CNET

President Donald Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis and return to the White House to continue treatment for the coronavirus has created more pressure for Democrats and Republicans to reach a deal that could fund a second stimulus payment and other measures to push through the coronavirus-spurred economic crisis. COVID-19 has infected over 7.5 million people and killed more than 213,000 in the US so far in 2020. 

“I am confident that we will have an agreement,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Monday on MSNBC. “The timing of it I can’t say, because I don’t know.”

With the Nov. 3 election now 28 days out, these nine key facts about stimulus payments will help you understand the current situation, including how quickly you could receive another payment if you are eligible, how to estimate the size of your total check, and how the stimulus payments are reflected on your federal income taxes. This story is regularly updated with new information.

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High unemployment rates and a faltering economy underscore the need for more aid.


Angela Lang/CNET

Trump’s COVID-19 illness could still alter the timeline

Trump on Monday returned to the White House after being cared for at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland. His treatment while in the hospital included the steroid dexamethasone (which he is still taking) and supplemental oxygen when needed, according to Trump’s personal physician, Dr. Sean Conley.

What exactly Trump’s situation means and whether it’ll affect the outcome of a stimulus package is unclear. But on Saturday, Trump’s Twitter account posted the president’s support for a new bill, a sign of urgency in the context of his illness. 

“I pray that in addition to his health, that the president’s heart will be open to the millions of people who have been affected,” Pelosi said Friday after the news of Trump’s hospitalization. Meanwhile, the president continues to downplay the virus’ dangers. As a result, there’s no clear indication how much pressure he might bring to bear over securing a bill and urging the Republican-led Senate to pass it if the total cost is higher than they’d like.

A new stimulus bill has passed, but here’s what it really means

The House of Representatives passed a revised stimulus bill Thursday that includes a stimulus payment, as well as $600 a week in federal unemployment benefits and aid for airlines and restaurants (compare it with the CARES Act here). But — and this is critical — this new take on the Heroes Act isn’t law. 

Meanwhile, the main negotiators for Democrats and Republicans — Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin — have continued talks. Politico reported the two are no closer to a deal, but will speak again on Tuesday.

If the talks are successful, they could yield a completely new bill that both the House and Senate would then vote on. If talks aren’t successful, the US may need to wait to see what happens next (some plausible scenarios below). The House is officially on recess as of Friday, but can be called back to vote at any time. 

One possible hurdle is getting Senate Republicans on board with the bill. Mnuchin has reached out with the outlines of the bill, according to The Washington Post, but Senate opposition could block a new package. Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell paused Senate votes until Oct. 19 after three Republican senators tested positive for COVID-19, but has said he’d reconvene to vote on a stimulus bill.

Both parties want you to get an additional check for as much as $1,200

There’s strong bipartisan support to provide another direct payment to people who qualify (more on that below). Republican and Democratic lawmakers and Trump all say they want a solution that includes a second stimulus check, among other measures in the relief bill, such as enhanced unemployment benefits.

Provisions for a second check have been part of three proposals since the CARES Act passed in March, one authored by Democrats and two by Republicans.


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Next stimulus checks: What to expect



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The IRS could speed up the process of getting out checks

The IRS and Treasury Department sent the first round of stimulus payments to recipients within 19 days. Mnuchin has said he could send them much faster this time, once new legislation is signed.

“I could get out 50 million payments really quickly” and start making payments a week after a bill is signed, he said in August. We’ve mapped out how quickly a new check could arrive.

You won’t pay taxes on relief money

The IRS doesn’t consider stimulus money to be income, and a payment you get this year won’t reduce your refund in 2021 or increase the amount you owe when you file your 2020 tax return. You also won’t have to repay part of your check if you qualify for a lower amount in 2021. The IRS said if you didn’t receive everything you were owed this year, you can claim it as a credit on your 2020 federal income tax return by filing in 2021. Here’s everything to know about stimulus checks and taxes.

Eligibility rules could change to your advantage

While we think a second stimulus check would largely follow the same guidelines as the first, eligibility requirements are subject to change. It might even benefit your family, if a new stimulus bill redefines who counts as a qualifying dependent.

Other notes on eligibility:

The IRS has a plan for who gets their check and when

With the first stimulus check, the IRS and the Treasury Department sent payments three ways: direct deposit, physical checks and prepaid EIP cards. According to the most recent numbers from the Treasury Department (from June), this is how the nearly 160 million payments break down:

  • Direct deposit: 75%, or 120 million payments
  • Paper check: 22%, or 35 million payments
  • Prepaid EIP debit card: 3%, or 4 million payments

It’s expected you’ll receive your money fastest with direct deposit, followed by the check and then the EIP card. Read more about priority groups here. The IRS automatically picks the payment method, but is likely to reopen its online portal that lets people register for direct deposit if new legislation passes.

We already think we know how much money you could get

If you’re still waiting for your first payment or are looking for an estimate of how much a second check could include, you can use our stimulus check calculator to get an idea for how much you, your family and your dependents may receive, especially if qualifications shift with another round of payments. Our calculator tool doesn’t retain your personal details in any way. 

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Less than a quarter of eligible recipients received their payment as a check in the mail.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Payment details can get complicated

When and if a second stimulus check does get approved, the details will require some unraveling. While some situations are straightforward, other complications about you and your dependents may make it unclear if you’re eligible, the size of a check you should expect and when it’s coming. Fringe cases abound. 

For example:

There’s much more to know about other government payments during the pandemic. Here’s what you need to know about a possible interest check from the IRS, the $300 federal unemployment benefit and the administration’s payroll tax cut.

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