Which Political Party Would Give You a Better Second Stimulus Check?

George Washington in a mask on a dollar bill
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Senate Republicans unveiled their new stimulus package on July 27, after more than two months of pressure from Democrats to move forward on such legislation.

The $1 trillion set of bills collectively known as the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability and Schools Act — or HEALS Act — would provide aid for businesses, nursing homes, state and local governments, and individuals and families, including the unemployed.

The HEALS Act is the Republican-led Senate’s response to the $3.4 trillion Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act, or Heroes Act, that the Democratic-led House of Representatives passed in mid-May.

There’s a $2.4 trillion difference between the estimated costs of the two bills — a gulf that Congress must bridge before Americans see another pandemic relief law of any kind.

But one provision that the HEALS Act and the Heroes Act already share in common is a second stimulus payment for taxpayers in 2020, which suggests that Americans can expect another round of payments if a new law happens.

The amounts and terms of the second stimulus payment differ under the HEALS Act and the Heroes Act, however. So, here’s a breakdown of what your second payment would look if either bill were to become law.

Payment amounts

Individuals and couples who are eligible for a second stimulus rebate would see the same amount of money under either bill, as both bills would authorize $1,200 per single taxpayer and $2,400 per married couple.

A vast majority of taxpayers with dependents would come out ahead under the Heroes Act, however: It would authorize $1,200 per dependent, whereas the HEALS Act calls for $500 per dependent.

The Heroes Act does limit a household’s stimulus payment to three dependents, effectively capping a family’s total payment at $6,000.

The HEALS Act does not mention such a cap, but a two-parent family still would need at least eight children for their stimulus check to be bigger under the Republican bill. A single parent would need at least 10 children to see a bigger check under that bill.

Income thresholds

The latest pandemic relief proposals from the House and Senate have the same income thresholds as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, the law that authorized the first round of economic stimulus payments.

The thresholds include:

  • $150,000 for joint tax returns
  • $112,500 for heads of households
  • $75,000 for single taxpayers

This means that if your adjusted gross income (found on your most recent tax return) exceeds the applicable amount above, you would not receive the full rebate amount or would not receive a rebate at all.

Other eligibility requirements

The Heroes Act and HEALS Act are both more generous than the CARES Act in terms of who is eligible for a stimulus payment.

For example, under the CARES Act, taxpayers received stimulus money for their dependents only if the dependents were under the age of 17. But under the new proposals, taxpayers could receive money for their dependents regardless of the age of the dependents.

What it means for you

In their current form, neither the Heroes Act nor the HEALS Act is likely to become law.

For starters, if Republican leaders were willing to accept the Heroes Act as it is, it is unlikely they would have gone through the trouble of drafting their own alternative.

Secondly, the Democrats’ $3.4 trillion bill would add more than three times as much to the national debt as the $1 trillion HEALS Act. It is hard to imagine either political party agreeing to the other side’s proposal when there is a $2.4 trillion gulf between the two acts.

More likely, the next coronavirus relief bill to pass both chambers of Congress will be a compromise, as was the case for the CARES Act.

So, the next round of stimulus payments likely will resemble a middle ground between the payment proposals in the Heroes Act and HEALS Act.

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