Next stimulus check closer to reality? The second relief payment could bring more money


We help you estimate the maximum amount that could end up in your bank account if another stimulus payment is approved.

Angela Lang/CNET

Getting more stimulus money into people’s hands through a second stimulus check seems to be a top priority for negotiators of the overarching stimulus package — and for President Donald Trump, who is currently hospitalized with COVID-19.

“Our great USA wants and needs stimulus. Work together and get it done. Thank you!” Trump’s account tweeted from the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where he is being treated for the coronavirus.

So how much money could you get from another round of direct payments? The first stimulus payment was for up to $1,200 per adult, but a second stimulus check could be larger or smaller, especially if the qualifications for dependents are broadened or if your financial circumstances have changed since the first round in March. The new eligibility rules under consideration (among others) would shape the size of a potential payment.

Read on to see how some realistic scenarios could play out — it may also be helpful to know how your yearly taxes help determine your share of stimulus money. You can also use CNET’s stimulus calculator to get an estimate of the size of your check. This story is updated often.

How you could get less than $1,200 — or maybe more

If another stimulus bill passes and includes a second stimulus check, it’s likely that $1,200 will remain the maximum for individuals, as it was in the last stimulus bill and two proposals. For most people, calculating the total amount requires them to know their adjusted gross income, or AGI.

That’s just the start. Family circumstances, such as if you file taxes jointly with your spouse, and a range of other eligibility requirements also play a role. A new move to let dependents of any age qualify could bring in more money, too. Here are some potential scenarios based on our stimulus check calculator, which you can also use to get a more specific estimate for your particular situation. 

How much stimulus money could you get?

Scenario 1 Scenario 2 Scenario 3 Scenario 4 Scenario 5
Tax filing status Single Head of household Married Married Married
2018 or 2019 tax AGI $55,000 $80,000 $110,000 $110,000 $200,000
Dependents under 17 (CARES Act) 0 1 2 2 2
Dependents over 17 (HEALS Act) 0 0 0 2 0
Estimated check amount $1,200 $1,700 $3,400 $4,400 $900

How to prepare for the IRS to send you a second check

The IRS will send your check automatically, it there’s another stimulus payment and if you’re eligible, but there may be some things you can do to help make sure you receive your money quickly.

Register for direct deposit to your bank account: Direct deposit will be the fastest way to get your money. The IRS already has a system in place to electronically transfer the funds into your checking account, if you already provided those details and registered for direct deposit for your first check or as part of filing your IRS tax return. 

Look for the registration tool to reopen if another stimulus check is issued. If you don’t have a bank account, read on for other ways to prepare.

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Next stimulus checks: What to expect


If you moved, you need to let the post office know: If you don’t have direct deposit, a physical check is the most likely way that you’ll receive a stimulus check. The IRS will mail your check to your last known address, so If you’ve moved recently, you’ll need to file a change of address with the US Postal Service.

Keep an eye on the mail: For the first stimulus payment, nstead of a paper check, about 4 million people received a prepaid economic impact payment card in the mail. This is money you can spend like cash on a debit card. The cards came in plain, unmarked envelopes that were prone to being tossed by mistake. When and if the time comes, you can sign up for a free USPS service to track your mail all the way to your mailbox, so there are no surprises — or disappointments.

Beware of scams: Stimulus check fraud is real, and it’s still ongoing as millions of people continue to wait for their first checks. Fraudsters prey on people they consider vulnerable. Knowing common attacks can help you recognize and avoid them. There’s no second stimulus check scheduled right now, but that won’t stop a scammer from trying to take advantage.

If you’re still waiting for your first stimulus check, follow these steps.


The amount of stimulus money you could get in a second round of checks is still undecided. 

James Martin/CNET

What’s the maximum amount your family could get?

It depends. If the qualifications are expanded to include dependents of any age, a married couple who files jointly and has a large number of dependents could get thousands without limit. It all comes down to the requirements. 

A quick, ballpark estimate with our stimulus check calculator: A married couple filing jointly, with a combined AGI of $75,000 per year and eight dependents, could potentially receive a payment of $5,200.

How people used the first round of stimulus checks

A recent survey looked at how Americans are using their stimulus checks. According to research from the National Bureau of Economic Research:

  • 15% of recipients said they spent or would spend most of their check.
  • 33% said they mostly saved.
  • 52% said they paid down debt.

In general, the report found that lower-income households were significantly more likely to spend their stimulus check, higher-income individuals were more likely to save it and those with mortgages or who were renters were much more likely to pay off debt.

According to the US Census Bureau, here’s the breakout for households that spent their stimulus checks on items rather than keeping it as savings or paying down debt.

  • 80% of those who spent their checks reported using it on food.
  • 77.9% spent it on rent, mortgage and utilities.
  • 58.2% bought household supplies and personal care products.
  • 20.5% purchased clothing.
  • 8.1% spent it on household goods — such as TVs, electronics, furniture and appliances — or recreational goods, including fitness equipment, toys and games.

Looking for more stimulus check information? Read up on all the finer points of the stimulus payment here. If you’re still waiting for your first stimulus check, here are 10 possible reasons for a delaywhat you can do if you think your payment was lost or has fallen through the cracks and whether you could receive two refund checks from the IRS.

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