Here’s what’s happening with a second stimulus check today.

Angela Lang/CNET

Washington negotiators are still pursuing an agreement on a second stimulus payment and additional benefits for Americans who are eligible, though the situation is now made harder to follow and predict by President Donald Trump’s recent COVID-19 diagnosis and hospitalization.

In the United States alone, the coronavirus has infected over 7.4 million Americans and killed over 211,000 people.

As the Nov. 3 election approaches, we’ve identified nine key facts about stimulus payments that can help explain what’s happening now, including the bill’s daily-changing status, the ins and outs of eligibility, how quickly you could get a second stimulus check and how those stimulus payments relate to your income taxes. This story was recently updated.


High unemployment rates and a faltering economy underscore the need for more aid.

Angela Lang/CNET

Trump’s hospitalization with COVID-19 could affect the timeline

On Thursday night, Trump and First Lady Melania Trump announced that they both tested positive for COVID-19 and on Friday the president was admitted to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland after a report Friday morning that he had experienced “mild symptoms.”

What exactly that means and whether it will affect the outcome of the bill remains to be seen; however, on Saturday, Trump tweeted his support for a new bill from the hospital.

Meanwhile, negotiators — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin — have been continuing talks and appear to be closer to a deal than they have been in weeks. 

Even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was more optimistic about the outcome of the talks as Friday closed. 

“I’m trying to figure out here whether I should predict another bill quickly or not but the talks have speeded up in the last couple days … I think we’re closer to getting an outcome,” McConnell said, according to Washington Post congressional reporter Erica Werner, via Twitter.

As of Saturday morning, Trump’s condition was characterized as improving, though it’s been suggested he was in more serious condition than previously communicated by the White House. CNET is closely monitoring the situation.

A new stimulus bill has passed, but here’s what it really means

The House of Representatives passed a revised stimulus bill Thursday that includes a stimulus payment, as well as $600 a week in federal unemployment benefits and aid for airlines and restaurants (compare it with the CARES Act here). But — and this is critical — this new take on the Heroes Act is not law. The negotiations for a different, bipartisan bill are still underway, which could bring about even more changes to the legislation and the fate of another round of stimulus checks. Pelosi and Mnuchin spoke on Friday and have said they intend to continue discussions. 

If the talks, which are under immense pressure, are successful, they could yield a completely new bill both chambers would then vote on. If talks aren’t successful, the US may need to wait to see what happens next (some plausible scenarios below). The House is set to recess after Friday, but can be called back to vote. 

Both parties want you to get a new check for up to $1,200

There’s strong bipartisan support to provide another direct payment to people who qualify (more on that below). Republican and Democratic lawmakers and President Donald Trump all say they want a solution that includes a second stimulus check, among other measures in the relief bill, such as enhanced unemployment benefits.

Provisions for a second check have been part of three proposals since the CARES Act passed in March, one authored by Democrats and two by Republicans.

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The IRS could accelerate the process of issuing checks

The IRS and Treasury Department sent the first round of stimulus payments to recipients within 19 days. Mnuchin has said he could send them much faster this time, once new legislation is signed.

“I could get out 50 million payments really quickly” and start making payments a week after a bill is signed, he said in August. We’ve mapped out how quickly a new check could arrive.

You won’t pay taxes on relief money

The IRS doesn’t consider stimulus money to be income, and a payment you get this year will not reduce your refund in 2021 or increase the amount you owe when you file your 2020 tax return. You also won’t have to repay part of your check if you qualify for a lower amount in 2021. The IRS said if you didn’t receive everything you were owed this year, you can claim it as a credit on your 2020 federal income tax return by filing in 2021. Here’s everything to know about stimulus checks and taxes.

Eligibility rules could change to your advantage

While we think a second stimulus check would largely follow the same guidelines as the first, eligibility requirements are subject to change. It might even benefit your family, if a new stimulus bill redefines who counts as a qualifying dependent.

Other notes on eligibility:

The IRS has a strategy for who gets their check in what order

With the first stimulus check, the IRS and the Treasury Department sent payments three ways: direct deposit, physical checks and prepaid EIP cards. According to the most recent numbers from the Treasury Department (from June), this is how the nearly 160 million payments break down:

  • Direct deposit: 75%, or 120 million payments
  • Paper check: 22%, or 35 million payments
  • Prepaid EIP debit card: 3%, or 4 million payments

It’s expected you’ll receive your money fastest with direct deposit, followed by the check and then the EIP card. Read more about priority groups here. The IRS automatically picks the payment method, but is likely to reopen its portal that lets people register for direct deposit if new legislation passes.

We already think we know how much money you may pocket

If you’re still waiting for your first payment or are looking for an estimate of how much a second check could include, you can use our stimulus check calculator to get an idea for how much you, your family and your dependents could expect to receive, especially if qualifications shift with another round of payments. Our calculator tool doesn’t retain your personal details in any way. 


Less than a quarter of eligible recipients received their payment as a check in the mail.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Payment details can get complicated

When and if a second stimulus check does get approved, the details will require some unraveling. While some situations are straightforward, other complications about you and your dependents could make it unclear if you’re eligible, the size of a check you should expect and when it’s coming. Fringe cases abound. 

For example:

There’s much more to know about other government payments during the pandemic. Here’s what you need to know about a possible interest check from the IRS, the $300 federal unemployment benefit and the administration’s payroll tax cut

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