The 2nd Stimulus Check: How Much and Who Gets It?

A mom of two looks at her computer

The U.S. government has approved a new round of financial aid to assist families and individuals facing hardships due to the ongoing pandemic. This article is accurate as of January 6, 2021 and will be updated as more information becomes available. 

**The IRS recently released additional FAQs regarding the second stimulus. For more information, read IRS Statement about Second Economic Impact Payments.

At a glance: 

  • The U.S. government will be issuing a second round of economic impact payments, also known as stimulus checks. 
  • No action is required. Payments will be issued automatically.
  • Individuals who earn $75,000 or less per year will receive $600.
  • Couples who earn less than $150,000 per year will receive $1,200.  
  • Children under age 17 will receive $600 each. 
  • If you don’t receive the full payment you’re entitled to, file and claim the Recovery Rebate Credit on your 2020 tax return.
  • You need a Social Security number to qualify for this stimulus. People with a SSN who did not receive the first stimulus because they are in a mixed-status household may now qualify. 
  • Workers receiving unemployment will receive an additional $300 per week through March 14, 2021. The extended benefits also apply to self-employed individuals. 
  • Additional provisions include assistance with rent payments and childcare, plus aid for small businesses and various state and local programs. 

How much is the second stimulus check? 

The new stimulus is worth $600 for individuals earning up to $75,000 per year, or $1,200 for couples earning up to $150,000 per year*. Parents with dependents will also receive $600 for each child under age 17. Use TaxSlayer’s Stimulus Calculator to estimate your payment amount.

*The stimulus payment amounts will begin to phase out above these income thresholds.

Who gets the second stimulus? 

The IRS will look at your 2019 tax return (the return you filed in 2020) to determine if you are eligible for the second stimulus. You must have a Social Security number to qualify. Children can qualify if they are under age 17.

Individuals with an AGI of $75,000 or less per year can receive $600. Married couples who file jointly with an AGI of $150,000 or less will receive the full $1,200.   

When will the second stimulus checks arrive? 

The IRS is now delivering payments by direct deposit and mailed check. Many people have already received their stimulus payments. To check the status of your payment, please refer to the IRS Get My Payment tool, available in English and Spanish only on IRS.gov.

How do I get the stimulus check? 

You won’t need to take any action to receive the second stimulus check.

According to the IRS, “Payments are automatic for eligible taxpayers who filed a 2019 tax return, those who receive Social Security retirement, survivor or disability benefits (SSDI), Railroad Retirement benefits as well as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Veterans Affairs beneficiaries who didn’t file a tax return.”

If you registered for the first stimulus using the Non-Filers tool on the IRS website by November 21, 2020, or submitted a simplified tax return that has been processed by the IRS, you will also receive your payment automatically.

Where will the IRS send my payment?

The IRS will send your second stimulus check the same way you received the first payment: by direct deposit, mailed check, or debit card. Social Security and other beneficiaries who received the first round of payments via Direct Express will receive this second payment the same way.

How do I change/update my bank information for direct deposit?

The IRS has a very tight timeline to deliver the second stimulus. If they do not have your current direct deposit information on file – for instance, if you changed banks this year – your payment may be returned to the IRS by legal requirement. In this case, the IRS cannot reissue your payment by mailed check. Instead, you will need to file a 2020 tax return and claim the Recovery Rebate Credit.

Note: In some cases, people who received a debit card last time might receive a paper check this time, and some people who received a check last time could receive a debit card. Information about using the Economic Impact Payment card can be found here.

What if I don’t get my payment?

If you don’t receive the stimulus payment for any reason, you can file a 2020 tax return in 2021 and claim the Recovery Rebate tax credit for the amount you are owed. Filing electronically and choosing direct deposit is the fastest way to get your payment.

I never got my first stimulus check. What do I do?  

If you were eligible for the first Economic Impact Payment but you never received it, you can claim the amount as a refundable tax credit on your 2020 tax return.  

You can also use the IRS Get My Payment online tool to check the status of your first and second payments. 

My payment is pending/has not arrived. What do I do?

Use the IRS Get My Payment online tool to check the status of your stimulus payment.

If you see a direct deposit date and partial account information, then your payment is deposited in the account indicated.

If Get My Payment shows a date your payment was mailed, the check is on its way; it may take up to 3 or 4 weeks for your stimulus to arrive.

What else is included in the bill?  

Unemployment relief  

Workers who are currently receiving unemployment benefits will receive an additional $300 per week through March 14, 2021.  

You can claim unemployment benefits through your state program, the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), and/or Pandemic Emergency Compensation (PEUC) for up to 50 weeks.  

Unemployment relief for self-employed 

The $300-per-week of additional unemployment also applies to people who are self-employed and gig workers. 

People who normally earn income from both self-employment and wages can receive an extra $100 of unemployment per week to help make up for lost self-employment income.   

Help with rent payments 

If your family is having difficulty paying rent, you can receive financial assistance for help with your expenses, including past and future rent and utilities. These funds are being distributed by your state and local governments.  

Special rules for EITC and CTC  

If you claim the Earned Income Tax Credit and/or the Child Tax Credit, you can use the income you reported on your 2019 tax return (the return you filed in 2020) to determine your EITC and the refundable portion of the CTC when you go to file your taxes in 2021. This is important and can help you get a larger tax refund if you earned less money in 2020 due to the pandemic. 

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