President Donald Trump’s hospitalization with COVID-19 has increased pressure for Democrats and Republicans to reach a deal that funds a second stimulus payment and other measures to help Americans. The situation was already hard to follow and predict, thanks to complex rules regarding eligibility and payment schedules. But the president’s illness raises more questions, even as it underscores the coronavirus’ far-reaching effects.
“We are making progress,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Sunday on Face the Nation. She stressed the need to agree on the larger implications of a stimulus bill that aims to “crush the virus.” COVID-19 has killed over 211,000 people and infected over 7.4 million in the US so far in 2020.
With the Nov. 3 election 30 days away, these nine crucial facts about stimulus payments lay out the situation as it stands, including how quickly you could receive another payment, how to estimate the size of your total check and how the stimulus payments are reflected on your income taxes. We update this story often.
Trump’s COVID-19 hospitalization could shift the timeline
Trump is currently being cared for at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland, with his treatment including the steroid dexamethasone and supplemental oxygen when needed, according to Trump’s personal physician, Dr. Sean Conley, who also said the president could be discharged as early as Monday.
What exactly Trump’s situation means and whether it’ll affect the outcome of a stimuluspackage remains to be seen. 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.
Meanwhile, the main negotiators for Democrats and Republicans — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin — have continued talks and appear to be closer to a deal than they’ve been in weeks.
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. The negotiations for a different, bipartisan bill are still underway.
If the talks are successful, they could yield a completely new bill 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.
Both parties want you to get a new check for up to $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.
The IRS could accelerate the process of issuing 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 strategy for who gets their check in what order
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 may pocket
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.
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.
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.