When are the checks coming? —

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A second wave of stimulus is on its way into the US economy. On Dec. 21, Congress passed a $900 billion Covid-19 relief bill that included direct payments for citizens, another round of loans for businesses and airlines, and extended unemployment benefits and eviction moratoriums. After some last-minute drama, US president Donald Trump signed the bill into law on Dec. 27.

Did Trump sign the second stimulus?

Yes, although he kept the US in suspense right up until the last moment. The president initially threatened to derail the bill, saying that the direct payments to citizens weren’t big enough (and expressing displeasure with several unrelated budget provisions that his own administration requested).

Ultimately, Trump caved and signed the bill—just in time to avoid a government shutdown, but too late to keep federal unemployment benefits from lapsing. As a result, roughly 12 million unemployed Americans won’t get a $300 check from the federal government this week, and the 11 weeks of unemployment benefits included in the relief bill may be cut to 10.

How much money will we get?

Under the relief bill that just passed, eligible US adults will get $600 checks, plus another $600 for each child dependent.

Congress is still weighing whether to boost the payments to $2,000, a number Trump also threw out when disparaging the bill. Democrats, who wanted $2,000 checks all along, are likely to pass a bill in the House of Representatives to increase the payments as early as today (Dec. 28).

Trump says he has secured a promise from Republican Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell to at least consider boosting payments. But McConnell’s party opposes $2,000 checks and will likely vote the measure down in the Senate.

When will checks go out?

It depends on whether the IRS has your bank account information. If you’ve set up a direct deposit account with the tax agency, Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin has said the money could hit bank accounts in about a week.

For those who haven’t filed their direct payment information with the IRS, the Treasury Department will mail a check or prepaid debit card. The agency can deliver between 5 million and 7 million checks per week, and will start with the lowest-income earners.

Who is eligible?

US adults earning $75,000 or less are eligible for the full $600 check. For married couples who file their taxes jointly, the household income cap is $150,000, and for those who file taxes as a head of household the cap is $112,500. For every $100 in earnings over that threshold, the federal government docks $5 from the check.

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