With 30 million Americans still unemployed and Covid-19 cases still on the rise in many states, Republicans in the Senate introduced a second stimulus package proposal that would send another round of direct $1,200 payments to many Americans.
The $1 trillion plan, called the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection, and Schools (HEALS) Act was announced on July 27, 2020. The HEALS Act is intended as a follow-up to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that was passed by Congress in March, 2020. However, the HEALS Act differs in some significant ways from the CARES Act.
HEALS Act vs.CARES Act
The rules around who will receive a stimulus check, and how much they’ll receive, will reportedly remain the same. Under the HEALS Act, if it’s passed by Congress, individuals who earn up to $75,000 would receive the full $1,200 payment. Married couples who make up to $150,000 would receive $2,400. For each additional $100 earned, the payments would decrease by $5. Individuals who make $99,000 or more and couples who make $198,000 or more would not receive payments.
Families would also receive an extra $500 for each dependent. While the CARES Act limited that $500 to dependents 17 and younger, the HEALS Act won’t apply the same age limit, so college age students would not be excluded.
As a part of the CARES Act, unemployed Americans have received an extra $600 per week in unemployment. That extra money expires at the end of July, 2020. The HEALS Act would decrease the additional benefit amount to $200 per week.
The HEALS Act is the Republican response to the bill passed by the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives in May, 2020. The $3 trillion Democratic bill, known as the HEROES Act, includes a second round of stimulus checks and an extension of the $600 weekly stipend. Republicans in Congress have suggested that the $600 stipend is too high, and gives people an incentive not to work.
What you can expect
Because of the gap between the $1 trillion Republican proposal and the $3 trillion Democratic proposal, negotiations are necessary and expected. But since both proposals include a stimulus check, it seems likely that you can expect to receive another check if you got one when the CARES Act was passed.
Although details have yet to be worked out, here’s what happened the last time. Recipients who qualified automatically received payments via direct deposit or mail. People who enrolled in direct deposit for their 2018 or 2019 tax returns also received stimulus payments that way. (So if you haven’t already done so, now might be a good time to consider filing your taxes for 2018 and 2019.)
People who signed up for direct deposit of their tax refunds into their Stash banking accounts when they filed their 2019 taxes had relief money deposited into their Stash accounts. The U.S. Treasury also has an online portal, where users could securely enter their bank account information for a direct stimulus payment. You’re likely to be able to access it here.
For people who don’t typically file tax returns, a group that includes many senior citizens, Social Security recipients, and retired railroad workers, the IRS said it would use information on the form SSA-1099 or form RRB-1099 to generate payments.
If you didn’t file your tax return for some other reason, such as not earning enough income, you can probably still use the IRS online portal to apply for a stimulus check.
Managing your finances during uncertain times
This second stimulus payment—if and when it is passed by Congress—is meant to provide another wave of relief to the millions of Americans affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. If you’re experiencing continued financial strain because of a layoff or lost work, you might use this payment for buying groceries or paying the bills.
If you can, consider putting some of the payment towards savings. It might be a good idea to pad your emergency and rainy day funds with extra cash in case financial stress continues or if something unexpected like a layoff happens. If you’ve found yourself with more savings than you typically have right now, maximize your savings by contributing more to your retirement fund or paying off debt.
You can find out more about managing your money during the Covid-19 pandemic here.