Blank Social Security checks are run through a printer at the U.S. Treasury printing facility February 11, 2005 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
William Thomas Cain | Getty Images
Congress won’t move on the next round of stimulus legislation this week.
Despite that, however, a second set of stimulus checks is still on the table.
Draft legislation released by Senate Republicans states, “These will be included, but the amount of the payment and eligibility are TBA [to be announced].”
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said this week that the size and scope of the payments will likely be the same as the first round. That is subject to change as negotiations with Democrats ensue.
Those checks were up to $1,200 per individual or $2,400 per married couple, plus $500 for dependents under 17.
Eligibility was based on income. Those earning up to $75,000 per individual, or $150,000 per married couple filing jointly, received the full amount. Those who made more than that received reduced payments. Individuals who make more than $99,000 and married couples with over $198,000 in income were not eligible for the money.
A second set of payments would be a concession for some Republicans, who are reluctant to send more money. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., previously suggested lowering the income threshold to those making $40,000 or less.
The stimulus checks are part of President Donald Trump’s plan to get relief help to Americans quickly, Mnuchin said in a Thursday CNBC interview. While the president still likes the idea of a payroll tax cut, more direct payments would get money to people sooner, Mnuchin said.
“The President’s preference is to make sure that we send out direct payments quickly so that in August, people get more money,” Mnuchin said.
Who will get checks most quickly
The timing of the money will depend first on how quickly negotiations on Capitol Hill are finalized.
Congress passed the CARES Act, which authorized the first round of cash, in late March. The Treasury Department and IRS subsequently began sending out checks in mid-April.
Those who were first in line for those payments had their direct deposit information on file with the IRS via their 2018 or 2019 tax return.
Some people could receive the money sooner the second time around.
“It may be a much quicker to get relief and support now than it was originally,” said Garrett Watson, senior policy analyst at the Tax Foundation.
In particular, those who are receiving direct payments from the U.S. government such as Social Security, Supplemental Security Income or Veterans Affairs benefits could get their money sooner, thanks to efforts with the first round to get data on those recipients, Watson said.
Who may have to wait
Admittedly, some people have never received their checks from the first round, which could put them in limbo while waiting for the new help.
Congressional representatives asked Mnuchin about those missing checks at a recent hearing. Mnuchin called it “inexcusable.”
“I am sympathetic, because these are real people who want their checks,” Mnuchin said.
Though the government is aware of these issues, some people could still be in for a long wait for their money, Watson said.
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“It may suggest that they will have to wait potentially as late as next spring, if they’re filers,” Watson said. “If not, it could be even longer until they get the rebate that they’re eligible for.”
One way to speed delivery of the money would be to improve communication with the IRS, Watson said. That way, people who need to update their information in order to get their payments, such as updating a mailing address, will be able to do so without falling through the cracks, he said.
The IRS has set up a phone number for people to call. However, many have reported limited success in getting through.
How eligibility could change
A second wave of checks will be an opportunity for the government to extend the money to some people who were shut out of the previous round.
One such group that both sides of the aisle agree should be included are adult dependents, including college students and people with disabilities.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has advocated for Americans who are married to non-citizens to be included, though it is not clear if that change will be added to the final measure.
In a related move, the Senate passed a bill on Thursday to prevent stimulus checks from getting garnished by private debt collectors for unpaid debts. That measure would also need to be approved by the House.