By now, most Americans have received the federal stimulus checks directed by the CARES Act in March to help consumers weather the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Three months later, the downturn has been declared an official recession and the official unemployment rate has soared into double digits, heightening calls for a second round of stimulus checks.
There's good news and bad news on the prospects for additional government assistance.
The proposed $3 trillion Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions, or HEROES, Act would authorize another round of stimulus payments for most U.S. households.
While the bill was passed by the Democrat-controlled House last month, it still must get through the Republican-controlled Senate.
Yet there are signs the White House may get behind additional stimulus funding, with the Wall Street Journal reporting that the administration is working on its own plan. During a press conference last week to discuss unemployment, President Donald Trump said his administration will be "asking for additional stimulus money," while his economic adviser Kevin Hassett told the Journal this week that the odds of another stimulus package "are very, very high."
On Thursday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the administration is "very seriously considering" a second round of stimulus checks, according to The Wall Street Journal.
To be sure, it's unclear whether the HEROES Act will pass Senate scrutiny, or what its final contents might be. But here's what Americans could be looking at if the bill passes.
How much money could I get with a second stimulus check?
The HEROES Act offers a larger stimulus payment than the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. Under the new legislation each member of a household would receive $1,200, including children. The income thresholds would remain the same, meaning that single taxpayers earning less than $75,000 and married taxpayers earning a total of $150,000 would receive the full payments. For instance, a family of four whose parents earn less than $150,000 would receive $4,800.
HEROES would cap total payments at $6,000 per family. Under CARES, a family of four whose parents earn less than a combined $150,000 received $3,400, since that law directed $500 for each child under the age of 17.
To see how much you would receive under the HEROES Act, you can check this stimulus calculator from OmniCalculator.
Could older students get stimulus payments?
One criticism of the CARES Act stimulus payments is their restrictions on older teens and college students. Only dependents under 17 years old were eligible for the $500 payments, which excluded many high school juniors and seniors. The payments also excluded college students who were claimed as dependents on their parents' taxes.
HEROES broadens its scope to include all dependents, which means that older teens and college students would be eligible for the $1,200 per-person payments.
How about immigrants?
CARES also drew fire for its exclusion of many immigrants, including those who are in the U.S. legally. Only immigrants with Green Cards were allowed to receive stimulus money, which excludes millions of immigrants who pay taxes but haven't qualified for a Green Card. The law also excluded Americans who are married to immigrants without Green Cards, an exclusion that sparked lawsuits alleging discrimination against them as well as their American children denied payments.
HEROES would require only that a taxpayer have a "taxpayer identification number" — a number used by immigrants to pay taxes — rather than a Social Security number, as CARES required.
What's not to like?
Some say Americans need even more help, while others believe it's best to wait to see if the economy picks up as businesses begin to reopen and rehire. Among those advocating for bigger payments is Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who with Democratic Senators Kamala Harris of California and Ed Markey of Massachusetts have introduced a bill to provide $2,000 per month for every U.S. resident until the coronavirus crisis ebbs.
Bills are piling up, rent is due, millions are jobless. A one-time $1,200 check won’t cut it.We need to provide $2,000 a month to every man, woman and child—and make it retroactive to cover the past three months.If we can bail out corporations, we can ensure everyone’s needs.
In the meantime, it's clear that most households across the country have taken an economic hit from the pandemic. About 54% of consumers said their income has been affected by the COVID-19 crisis, according to a recent survey from Betterment.
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