With COVID-19 cases climbing across the country and the June jobs report still confirming how unemployment levels are sitting at high numbers, countless Americans are holding out hope that the second round of stimulus checks will be included in the next, upcoming relief package. Congress should begin negotiations on Monday, and while further economic impact payments are gaining more support, not every American will be eligible for it.
Under the CARES Act, which was signed by President Donald Trump on March 27, those eligible for a direct payment included single residents with an adjusted gross income under $99,000; anyone who filed as the head of a household earning less than $146,000; and anyone who filed jointly without children and made under $198,000. Along with a one-time $1,200 payment, or $2,400 for joint filers, households were also eligible to receive $500 for children 16 and under. Some college students between 19 and 23, adults who can be claimed as dependents, those without a green card, estates and people who have not filed 2018 and 2019 tax returns, however, were not eligible. But while nine out 10 households qualified for a stimulus payment, will the same be true of a second round?
At this time, it largely remains unknown who will and who will not be entitled to a second stimulus check. Under a broader second stimulus plan, such as the Democrat-backed HEROES Act, limitations similar to those imposed by the CARES Act would exist. That proposal, however, is unlikely to pass, and some lawmakers have voiced support for much more restricted eligibility.
If recent remarks from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell hold true, Americans earning more than $40,000 will not be eligible to receive a direct payment. Speaking to reporters earlier this month, McConnell said that he believes "the people who have been hit the hardest are people who make about $40,000 a year or less." It is unclear if that belief stemmed from an open letter from 156 top economists, which stated that "among people who were working in February, almost 40 percent (PDF) of those in households making less than $40,000 a year had lost a job in March."
That $40,000 income cap would mean that the number of Americans eligible to receive them would be drastically more limited. According to some reports, approximately 20 million Americans who had received a payment under the CARES Act would no longer be eligible. However, it is not yet known if Congress will implement such a restriction, which has already become controversial.