Second stimulus check: Who would qualify for more IRS money? What we know

Just because you got a stimulus check the first time doesn’t mean you’ll qualify for a second payment, if there is one.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Later this month, the Senate will likely start crafting what a second stimulus check could entail. But from the hints we’re hearing so far, those expecting a second direct payment similar to what they received in the CARES Act might be in for a shock. According to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell this week, a new package might tighten the requirements significantly.

There’s been talk of making more people eligible for an extra round of stimulus funds, but also discussions that could limit future IRS checks to fewer people total, as McConnell hinted, focusing on those who’ve been found to have the greatest need.

For example, McConnell said this when asked about a second stimulus check, “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.”

“I’m not sure why there seems to be some more enthusiasm among Republicans for a second check rather than [unemployment insurance] and [state and local] aid,” the director of the nonpartisan Economic Policy Institute, Josh Bivens, told CNET in an email. “But that seems to be the case, so it’s possible we do get a second check instead of one of the priorities above, which I think would be a shame.” 

Lawmakers haven’t decided who would qualify for more stimulus money or how much they would get, though we have a good idea when we think another payment could come. Here’s everything we’ve heard so far about who may or may not be eligible for an extra economic impact payment. The situation and this story update often.


Not everyone will qualify for a payment under the current proposal.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Who gets another stimulus payment? The big picture

We won’t know until another rescue bill is made official, but we can put some pieces together to get a sense of the possibilities. For example, the Heroes Act (PDF) passed by the House of Representatives in May proposes broad financial benefits to individuals, families and categories that were skipped by the first stimulus check (scroll down for the list of exclusions), including most college students and people who aren’t US citizens.

But the Heroes Act has been strenuously opposed by the Senate and President Donald Trump, who called it DOA. On the other end of the spectrum, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said that if his chamber passes another relief bill that includes more stimulus checks, the focus will be narrow.

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In making these decisions, the Senate and House will factor in economic data that is at best contradictory. The US economy added 4.8 million jobs in June (PDF), the Labor Department reported last week, as a result of every state reopening in some way. For the week ending June 27, however, first-time unemployment insurance claims were 1.42 million (PDF), marking the 15th straight week in which people filed for unemployment benefits for the first time — a sign that the US labor market is still shedding jobs. 

And with coronavirus rates now spiking across the US, governors are shutting businesses they had allowed to open just weeks before, threatening to set back new job gains.

Who could potentially qualify for a broad second stimulus payment?

  • 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 a taxpayer’s parent.
  • Families of up to five people.
  • SSDI recipients
  • People who aren’t US citizens and file tax returns, pay taxes and otherwise comply with federal tax law using an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN) instead of a Social Security number.

Who might not qualify for a second payment?

Based on speculation, there are some different ways exclusion from a potential second stimulus check could play out.

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 possible there could be 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. Senator McConnell hinted the cap could be as low as $40,000.

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.

President Donald Trump

President Trump has expressed interest in a second round of checks in 2020.

James Martin/CNET

Who isn’t eligible for the first stimulus check

Let’s review who’s been excluded in the first round.

  • A single taxpayer with an adjusted gross income above $99,000
  • A head of a household with an AGI over $136,500
  • A married couple with an AGI over $198,000
  • Children over 16 and college students under age 24
  • nonresident alien as defined by the US government

When will we know more about stimulus check qualifications?

We won’t know anything for sure until a stimulus bill comes into clearer focus. You can read more about the suspected timeline here, but in general, here’s what we know.

McConnell has said repeatedly– most recently on July 6 — that if the Senate starts work on a second package, it will be later this month. To fit into McConnell’s timeline, legislators will have to work around several extended breaks when the Senate is not in session: a scheduled two-week recess from July 3 until July 17 and its August recess, running from Aug. 10 to Sept. 7.

For more, here’s what we know about the major proposals for a second stimulus package. We also have information on unemployment insurance, what you can do if you’ve lost your job and what to know about evictions.

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