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Stimulus check money: Could you receive $1,200 or more?

If a new round of direct payments gets sent out in 2020, here's how much could end up in your pocket.

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We help you calculate the maximum amount that could end up in your piggy bank if another stimulus payment comes your way.

Angela Lang/CNET

Thanks to a potential change to qualifications for another round of payments, which could loop in more of your dependents, you and your family might get more money in a potential second stimulus check than in the first round of direct payments.

Congress must reach a deal (or an executive action must be signed) in order for you to know if you could receive $1,200 or if your potential payment will be lower or higher -- it'll all depend on the size of the total relief package. As the situation develops, let's take a look at everything we know right now about what a second round of stimulus payments could look like. Also, check out the most important stimulus topics, and use CNET's stimulus check calculator for a specific estimate. 

We recently updated this story.

How to find out if your payment could be more than $1,200

The $1,200 figure for individuals is based on guidelines from the last stimulus bill and two proposals, and uses your adjusted gross income, or AGI, and a set of rules to determine the total you could personally expect.

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But there are also allowances for your whole family, including up to $2,400 if you file jointly with your spouse, as well as more money for dependents. In the first round of stimulus checks, only dependents aged 16 or younger could qualify for an extra $500 each toward the family total. There's bipartisan support to include more people this time, which means you could potentially receive more from a second round of payments than from the first.

We lay out some potential scenarios below, based on our stimulus check calculator, which you can also use to get a more specific estimate for your particular situation. 

Stimulus check calculations


Scenario 1 Scenario 2 Scenario 3 Scenario 4 Scenario 5
Filing status Single Head of household Married Married Married
2018 or 2019 tax AGI $75,000 $90,000 $100,000 $100,000 $200,000
Dependents under 17 (CARES Act) 0 1 2 2 2
Dependents over 17 (HEALS Act) 0 0 0 2 0
Estimated check amount $1,200 $1,700 $3,400 $4,400 $900

How the IRS could get you your stimulus payment

While there's no official plan yet, it's likely that receiving this second stimulus check would work much like it did the first time around. 

Direct deposit: If you filed taxes in 2018 or 2019 and included direct-deposit banking information, it's likely you can receive your check as a direct deposit. Even if you didn't file your direct deposit information with the IRS during tax season, you should still be able to opt in. If you asked for an extension on your taxes, you can still file them before the deadline of Oct. 15, 2020, and choose to share your direct deposit information with the IRS. If another round of stimulus payments is authorized, the IRS is likely to reopen the online tool it used for the first round and let you log your information then.

A paper check in the mail: If you don't register your banking details with the IRS, you'll likely receive a paper check in the mail, which you can deposit or cash. If you've recently moved, make sure to file your change-of-address paperwork. The IRS will use your last known address, which could hold up delivery of your check or otherwise cause a delay.

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The amount of stimulus money you could get in a second round of checks is still undecided. 

James Martin/CNET

EIP card: Under the CARES Act, about 4 million people were also sent money in the form of a prepaid economic impact payment card, a payment that you can spend like cash on a debit card. The cards came in plain, unmarked envelopes.

How Americans used the first round of stimulus checks

A recent survey looked at how Americans are using their stimulus checks. According to research from the National Bureau of Economic Research:

  • 15% of recipients said they spent or would spend most of their checks
  • 33% said they mostly saved
  • 52% said they paid down debt

In general, the report found that lower-income households were significantly more likely to spend their stimulus checks, higher-income individuals were more likely to save it and those with mortgages or who were renters were much more likely to pay off debt.

Looking for more stimulus check information? Read up on all the finer points of the stimulus payment here. If you're still waiting for your first stimulus check, here are 10 possible reasons for a delaywhat you can do if you think your payment was lost or has fallen through the cracks and if you could receive two refund checks from the IRS.

Shelby Brown contributed to this report.