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What to Know About Stimulus Checks and More as House Readies Vote on COVID Relief Bill

With only four days until the expiration of supplemental unemployment benefits, the House of Representatives is set to pass the sweeping $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package and send it to President Joe Biden’s desk for his signature.

Leaders are expected to vote on the bill today, which would offer eligible individuals $1,400 in direct payments and an extension to the $300 in weekly jobless aid. It also includes money for COVID-19 vaccinations, testing and contact tracing; support for schools and small businesses; as well as funding for rental and food assistance, among other measures.

Here, some questions and answers about the amount and status of the checks, as well as how the tax season plays a part in their distribution.

How much will eligible Americans receive?

Biden has agreed to narrow the eligibility for the third round of checks. Individuals with annual earnings of less than $75,000 and couples who take home less than $150,000 will still receive the full $1,400 payments as outlined in his original proposal. However, individuals who make more than $80,000 each year and couples bringing in more than $160,000 will not receive even partial checks. This differs from the prior two rounds of aid, which offered reduced stimulus payments to individuals with earnings between $80,000 and $100,000 as well as couples with earnings between $160,000 and $200,000.

When stimulus checks will roll out?

The Internal Revenue Service could begin sending out payments within one to two weeks of the bill’s signing into law, based on the timeframe for the previous rounds of checks. At a press conference yesterday in Buffalo, N.Y., Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said that “Middle-class Western New York households will be getting a $1,400 check in the mail in about two weeks.” He added, “They should get them by the end of March, so it’ll be a nice Easter present for everybody.”

How much of a boost do jobless Americans get?

Following revisions by the Senate, the latest version to be voted on in the House calls for a $300-per-week federal enhancement — $100 less than the $400 initially agreed upon by House Democrats. However, the extra funding will now run through Sept. 6, which would be about a week later than the original proposal. What’s more, two key pandemic unemployment benefits programs that were scheduled to phase out this weekend would also be extended through Sept. 6.

How does tax season factor in?

The IRS started accepting tax returns on Feb. 12 and plans to close the filing window on its annual date of April 15. (Last year, the agency extended that deadline by three months.) If a taxpayer doesn’t file their 2020 tax return before the bill is enacted, the IRS is expected to use their 2019 tax return to calculate their payment for the stimulus check.

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