When Donald Trump signed his executive actions on coronavirus relief, nothing he signed was related to a second stimulus check. Americans have been waiting for a new one ever since the first one-time payment was included in the CARES Act, which was signed this past March. The IRS began sending those payments in mid-April. Late last month, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced the HEALS Act, which did include another stimulus check with some changes to eligibility requirements.
A new stimulus check is one of the few topics Democrats and Republicans agree on when it comes to the next step for coronavirus pandemic relief. A second check was included in both the Republican HEALS Act proposal and the HEROES Act, which House Democrats passed in May. Like the CARES Act's Economic Impact Payment, these both sent most eligible Americans at least $1,200 payments.
The executive order and memorandums Trump signed Saturday focused on the federal unemployment benefit, evictions, student loan deferment and payroll tax deferment. Trump could not unilaterally sign an executive order suddenly calling for the Treasury Department to issue checks because the president does not have the power to draw out money Congress did not already appropriate, notes Yahoo! Money. This is why the unemployment insurance executive order relies on funds Congress already designated to be used by FEMA for disaster relief.
While Americans wait for Congress and the White House to get back to the negotiating table, here is a look at how the eligibility requirements could change when or if a new stimulus check program is created to see where each side stands.
Setting the scene: eligibility requirements from the CARES Act's EIP
The CARES Act's Economic Impact Payment (EIP) program sets the foundation for how the next stimulus payment program could be set up. Citizens and resident aliens were eligible for $1,200 individually and $2,400 if they file jointly. Individuals had to earn $75,000 or less to receive the full $1,200. If they earned between $75,000 and $99,000, they received 5% less based on their adjusted gross income. Couples earning $150,000 or less were eligible and head-of-households earning $112,500 or less were also eligible. Dependents under 17 were eligible for $500 payments.prevnext
HEALS Act tweaks dependent eligibility
The HEALS Act fixed one of the major omissions in the CARES Act's program. Dependents of any age will be eligible for a $500 payment if the bill passes. The CARES Act's program left out college students and older high school students, as well as adults who filed as dependents. The HEALS Act also tweaked income requirements. While individuals still have to earn less than $99,000 to get a payment, heads of households can now earn up to $146,500 and couples filing jointly can earn up to $198,000. The Republican bill also excludes people in prison and bans creditors and banks from seizing payments for debts, notes CNET.prevnext
Republicans ditched a plan to limit eligibility
Just before the HEALS Act was introduced, Republicans debated if Americans needed a second stimulus check at all. McConnell sought to ease concerns over the bill's cost by introducing a limit to eligibility. He floated the idea that only individuals making $40,000 or less would be eligible for a payment. The idea was ultimately abandoned though, as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters they were now considering "about the same provision as last time."prevnext
The HEROES Act expanded eligibility, including non-citizens with ITINs
The HEROES Act mostly followed along the same lines as the CARES Act's EIP but expanded eligibility. Individuals who made less than $99,000 in adjusted gross income based on their 2018 or 2019 tax returns were eligible. A family of five people could receive payments up to $6,000, since each individual would be eligible for $1,200, including minors. Non-U.S. citizens who file taxes and have an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) instead of a Social Security Number were also eligible. The bill also expanded dependents to include those over 17. The HEROES Act passed in May, but Republicans did not negotiate with Democrats at that time, so the HEROES Act will not become law.prevnext
Standalone stimulus proposal from Republican Senators called for $1,000 for adults and minors
There are also standalone proposals in Washington for stimulus check programs that would not be part of a massive coronavirus stimulus package like the CARES Act. Sens. Bill Cassiday, Marco Rubio, Mitt Romney, and Steve Daines, all Republicans, introduced the Coronavirus Assistance for American Families Act, which would send $1,000 to individuals. While this is less than the $1,200 payments from the CARES Act, it also includes $1,000 for minors. So for example, a family of four would receive $4,000 in total. However, only U.S. citizens with Social Security Numbers would be eligible.prevnext
One proposal from Democratic Senators included monthly stimulus checks for anyone earning under $120,000 annually
Back in May, Sen. Kamala Harris, along with Sens. Ed Markey and Bernie Sanders, introduced the Monthly Economic Crisis Support Act. This proposal would send any American earning less than $120,000 annually a $2,000 monthly payment. It could be retroactive back to March 2020, meaning if the bill continued into next year and passed, some Americans could receive $10,000 in total. Any U.S. resident, even those without Social Security Numbers, would be eligible. This bill seems the most unlikely one to fruition since neither the HEROES Act nor the HEALS Act includes a monthly payment.prev