Another Stimulus Check Could Be Coming—and 26 Million More People Might Qualify for Cash This Time

The the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools, or HEALS, Act, introduced Monday night by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), includes a provision for a second $1,200 stimulus check. About 159 million Americans received the first economic impact payment according to the IRS, and if the HEALS Act is passed as written in the Senate GOP's proposal, tens of millions more Americans could be eligible for a check this time around. 

That's because the HEALS Act attempts to rectify a criticism of the first coronavirus stimulus bill. Under the CARES Act, taxpayers only received an extra $500 for their child dependents under 17. Dependents 17 and over were also not eligible to receive their own $1,200 check. 

That left out millions of college students and disabled dependents, among others. Now, taxpayers will receive the additional $500 payment for dependents of any age, according to a memo from the Senate Finance Committee. That means at least 26 million more people qualify, according to the Tax Foundation. A couple earning under $150,000 with one dependent in college will receive a check for $2,900, for example. 

The memo on the HEALS Act does not mention a cap on how many dependent payments a single household can receive, but the House-passed HEROES Act capped them at three, or an additional $1,500.

Otherwise, the stimulus check follows the same structure as the CARES Act. HEALS Act payments would be based on 2018 or 2019 tax filings, worth up to $1,200 for individuals earning up to $75,000 and $2,400 for couples earning up to $150,000. The top phase-out thresholds are also the same: $99,000 for individuals and $198,000 for couples.

The HEALS Act attempts to fix another flaw of the CARES Act by excluding anyone who died prior to January 1, 2020 from receiving a payment. An estimated 1.1 million checks were sent to dead people during the first round of stimulus payments.

That said, the HEALS Act still restricts the payments to American citizens and residents with a Social Security number, leaving out an estimated 15 million people in immigrant families.

If the bill passes with the $1,200 checks included, it could take weeks or months for Americans to receive the payment.

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