Updated 11:10 a.m. Dec 31
Efforts by Senate Dems to get a vote on the U.S. House measure that would have increased the stimulus payments to $2,000, as requested by President Donald Trump, were blocked by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Thus, the political scrapping is over, at least over this particular round of stimulus, and the payments have started going out. If you received your last stimulus via direct deposit, expect to receive this one the same way. Otherwise, you'll be getting a check or a debit card in the mail, according to an IRS release.
Updated 2:03 p.m. Dec 28
We're at least getting our $600 checks after all. On Sunday President Donald Trump signed Congress's second stimulus package into law. Congress passed the package last Monday, promising to send out $600 checks to Americans as Covid-19, but last Tuesday the president refused to sign the bill, criticizing the low amount. While Democrats in Congress seemed eager to increase the funding to the president's suggested $2,000, Republicans have so far held out.
Today, the House of Representatives is set to vote to on whether to expand the checks to $2,000. Also today, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer tweeted, "I’m going to fight to pass the House’s bill to give Americans $2,000 checks in the Senate."
Read more about the politics surrounding this $900 billion stimulus package, which is part of a $2.3 trillion coronavirus relief bill, here.
Updated 4:45 p.m. Dec 23
Well, the bill was sent to President Donald Trump, but the president has now indicated he wanted it to provide $2,000 stimulus checks. He hasn't said he will veto it (which could be overruled by Congress since the bill was passed in both the House and Senate by large majorities) and he hasn't said he won't. He could also just decline to sign the bill which will see federal unemployment programs end on Saturday but will also allow the unsigned bill to die with this Congress, which closes on January 3. In other words, the stimulus was on its way, but now we're all just going to have to wait and see. One thing we do know: Any delays in this process are guaranteed to slow down those checks hitting people's bank accounts.
Updated 4:55 p.m. Dec 22
Congress has finally passed the pandemic relief stimulus package after months of failed negotiations. The bill, which cleared the Senate 92 to 6 and the House by 359 to 53 late Monday night, was then sent to President Donald Trump. It only awaits his signature to be enacted. In addition to the funds for individuals, families, and businesses we've spelled out below, the legislation will also fund the Covid-19 vaccine rollout and fund the federal government through September 2021. As such, the bill, clocking in at 5,593 pages, is one of the longest bills ever recorded, according to the Associated Press.
Published 5:51 p.m. Dec 21
We'll soon be seeing round two of stimulus checks now that Congressional leaders have finally come to an agreement on the $900 billion stimulus package. Once it is passed and lands on President Donald Trump's desk to be signed into law, the bill will go into effect after months of stalled-out negotiations and the two sides being at loggerheads. So what does that mean for you? Well, for starters it means that most Americans, but less than the roughly 90 percent of citizens who qualified for the previous package, are about to receive some kind of stimulus cash. Below we've delved into who will be getting those funds and what the rest of the aid that the bill does—and doesn't—provide:
So who qualifies for stimulus?
This time around, the starting rate will be a $600 check for any single person earning $75,000 or less. Married couples whose combined earnings are $150,000 or less will get $1,200, half the amount provided by the CARES Act passed last March.
From there, if you're pulling in above those figures, the payments will be reduced by $5 for every $100 you make above those thresholds. This is a similar setup to the one provided by the CARES Act, but because the amount being given is lower, it phases out for individuals who earn more than $87,00o and married couples who earn more than $174,000, meaning there won't be as many higher-earning recipients of checks with this round of stimulus. (The last iteration phased out at individuals earning more than $99,000 and married couples earning more than $198,000.)
What about the kids?
The last stimulus check provided $500 for each dependent, even including dependents who are legally adults, such as college students. With this deal, the amount per dependent has been increased to $600, but this will only be given for those who are 16 years old or younger. Legal adult dependents, even if they are still high school students, will not be eligible for stimulus checks.
Is it going to take forever to get my check if I am receiving Social Security?
Because those on Social Security don't file tax returns, which the IRS used to send out the money when the first checks were cut earlier this year, there was a significant delay in getting those funds distributed to Social Security recipients. However, this issue has been remedied and now that money is expected to go out at the same pace as the rest of the stimulus.
So ... when are the stimulus funds going out?
Well, once Congress has passed the bill and the president has signed it, they should start being distributed fairly quickly. U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told CNBC on Monday morning that funds could start showing up in bank accounts very quickly. "The good news is this is a very, very fast way of getting money into the economy. Let me emphasize: People are going to see this money at the beginning of next week," Mnuchin said.
We'll see if things do move that quickly in the end. Last time, some checks did get rolled out in a matter of weeks, but others were delayed for weeks and, in some cases, months. Fingers crossed that things will go more smoothly this time.
What about unemployment benefits?
They're being bolstered back up by federal funds again. On top of the state unemployment aid that unemployed workers are receiving, they'll get an additional $300 per week through March 14, 2021.
And the PPP loans?
There will be another injection of funds for small businesses, this one to the tune of $284 billion worth of forgivable loans. The Paycheck Protection Program funds ran out quickly once they were available last time (going to a number of worthy small businesses, and to more questionable destinations and ... ahem, well, we're mentioning Lakewood Church's coffers here for no particular reason.) But if your small business can move quickly, you may be able to get the aid you need.
And what about funding for the City of Houston and other local governments?
That didn't happen at all this time around, a development that Mayor Sylvester Turner was not shy about expressing his displeasure over at a Monday afternoon press conference. In fact, when he was asked to share his thoughts on this decision, Turner laid out his frustration very clearly.
“It was unfortunate that local governments were not included in this initial relief package," Turner said, noting that local government includes police, firemen, public work employees, municipal employees, health care employees, parks, and people who take care of your water. He said he'd just been at a meeting earlier that day where the city finance department had shown how Houston is falling short because the city isn't receiving anywhere near its usual amount of sales tax because of the pandemic.
“I cannot tell you how disappointed I am with Congress that they did not include local government in the stimulus package," Turner continued. "We’ll take it in stride. We’ll do what we must to make sure we meet the priority needs of the people in this city, as we have done in the past. They certainly didn’t make our task easier, but we will keep moving forward. Having said that, I’m glad they did to something. And hopefully the relief that they’re providing will get to the people who stand in need as quickly as possible. So I’m glad that they did something. But I am very, very disappointed that local governments did not receive any assistance in this package.”