As the COVID-19 outbreak grew into a global pandemic, lawmakers quickly realized that this health emergency would also become an economic one.
One of the tools lawmakers used to combat the economic toll of this pandemic has been direct stimulus payments to Americans. These checks are intended to keep payments flowing through society, including debt payments, rent, and all the other expenditures that help stimulate the economy.
Many Americans have already received one stimulus check. While political debates continue to rage about many aspects of economic stimulus, major political players all appear to agree on one point: another round of stimulus payments could be on their way out soon.
2020 Stimulus Check Timeline
Before looking at what might be coming, it may help to refresh yourself on how we got here. Here are the major dates and events that brought the U.S. to where we are now.
Jan. 20, 2020 – A Washington state resident becomes the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the U.S. On the same day, a scientist studying the outbreak in China confirms that the virus can spread through human contact.
March 6, 2020 – President Trump signs the first COVID-19 stimulus bill. Called the “Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act,” this bill provided some $8.3 billion for vaccine development, medical supplies, business loans, and other response tactics. It also loosened restrictions on telehealth services.
March 17, 2020 – As the U.S. logs its 100th COVID-related death, the Trump administration pressures Congress to pass a bill that will send stimulus checks directly to Americans.
March 18, 2020 – Congress enacts the “Families First Coronavirus Response Act,” directing roughly $104 billion to individuals through measures such as expanding food security programs, unemployment benefits, paid leave protections, and Medicaid funding. Democratic senators introduce a plan to send quarterly stimulus checks to Americans throughout the pandemic, starting with $2,000 checks for every adult and child.
March 27, 2020 – Congress enacts the first round of stimulus checks with the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Along with sending $1,200 to most Americans, this $2.2 trillion bill also established the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) which loaned money to businesses and forgave those loans if they used most of the money to keep employees on their payroll.
April 24, 2020 – Congress enacts the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act. This $484 billion bill largely went toward replenishing the PPP, but it also included funds for hospitals and testing programs.
May 15, 2020 – The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives passes the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act, which includes a second round of direct stimulus payments to Americans. The Republican-controlled Senate has signaled that it will not pass this legislation.
May 28, 2020 – COVID-related deaths in the U.S. surpasses 100,000.
July 1, 2020 – President Trump says in an interview he wants to send out a second round of stimulus payments. He says he wants the checks to be worth more than the $1,200 checks Democrats proposed.
July 27, 2020 – The GOP-controlled Senate unveils a collection of bills and proposals that collectively become known as the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools (HEALS) Act. Despite including stimulus payments that enjoy widespread support, other aspects of the bill have since been fiercely opposed by Democrats in the House and Senate.
What Does the New Stimulus Plan Look Like?
The three major players in negotiations are House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and President Donald Trump. Additionally, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has taken on a major role in negotiations on behalf of the Trump administration.
These people will ultimately decide what the next round of stimulus looks like. Negotiations have largely been deadlocked since the end of July. That’s when Republicans in the Senate released their latest economic stimulus proposal. However, stimulus checks don’t appear to be a major sticking point for any of the negotiators, everyone involved has expressed support for another round of direct payments to Americans.
Speaker Pelosi’s plan is outlined in the HEROES Act that passed through the House in May. Sen. McConnell’s plan is outlined in the HEALS Act. The payments in these plans are largely similar to those included in the CARES Act, but they both go a bit further.
Many college students were left out of the first round of stimulus checks, and both Democrat and Republican legislation would change that this time around. The Democrats’ HEROES Act would send an extra $1,200 to families for each dependent child, even those older than 17.
The Republicans’ HEALS Act sends an extra $500 per dependent child of any age. While the Republican plan offers less stimulus per dependent, there is no cap on the number of children that qualify for stimulus payments. The Democratic plan caps the number of eligible dependents per family to three children.
The Democrats’ bill would also send payments to more immigrant families—while the CARES Act required recipients to have a Social Security number, the HEROES Act would only require recipients to have a taxpayer identification number.
Who Qualifies for the New Stimulus Package?
Who qualifies for the new round of stimulus checks largely depends on who gets their way as the details of the bill are hammered out, but it appears that it will largely replicate the first round of payments.
Under Sen. McConnell’s plan, anyone with a Social Security number could qualify for payments. Payments of $1,200 will be sent to Americans earning a gross annual income of $75,000 or less ($150,000 for married couples, $112,000 for a head of household).
Payments for smaller amounts will be sent to those earning more than $75,000, but less than $99,000 ($198,000 for married couples, $136,000 for a head of household).
Those earning more will not receive any stimulus payment. In addition to the $1,200 included for every adult who meets income requirements, stimulus checks increase by $500 for every dependent child. Unlike the first round of payments, there won’t be an age cap for these dependent children to qualify.
Speaker Pelosi’s plan differs in two ways. First, her plan sends families $1,200 per child, not $500, but it caps the number of eligible children at three per family. Secondly, her bill extends the same payments to those with taxpayer identification numbers, not just those with Social Security numbers.
How to Prepare for the Stimulus Payments
While we don’t know exactly what these payments will look like, you can take steps now to ensure that you’re prepared to receive your full benefits. The payments are based on tax filings, so you’ll want to ensure that your information is current with the IRS.
Check your direct deposit information and review your annual income to get an idea of how much you’ll get and where that money will land.
If you want to receive stimulus payments as quickly as possible, you may consider linking your RoarMoney account. These accounts expedite payments, whether they’re from the IRS or an employer, so that you get paid up to two days earlier than usual.
Whenever stimulus checks start going out, these account holders will be among the first to have access to their money. This count also includes a contactless mobile wallet, so you won’t risk spreading the virus as you spend your stimulus.