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Democrats are forging ahead with plans to send millions of Americans $1,400 stimulus checks. Their most recent proposal sheds light on just who could be eligible for the money once it’s approved.
The House of Representatives unveiled its legislative drafts on Monday. Democrats, under the leadership of President Joe Biden, plan to try to have $1.9 trillion in additional coronavirus aid passed using a process known as budget reconciliation.
New $1,400 stimulus checks are among the measures expected to be included.
While there is bipartisan support for more direct payments, some lawmakers have questioned just how generous they should be this time around.
“I’m not cutting the size of the checks,” Biden said during an economic update last week. “They’re going to be $1,400. Period.”
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He did indicate the payments should be structured so that “folks making $300,000 don’t get any windfall,” which can happen when a family has many children.
Yet other lawmakers have complained the thresholds to qualify for the payments could be too generous. Last week, one group of Republicans proposed capping the checks completely for individuals who earn $50,000 and couples with $100,000 in income.
House Democrats’ latest proposal outlines who could be eligible for the payments unless changes are made.
Given the current guidelines, payments could be sent to roughly 160 million people, said Howard Gleckman, senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, based on previous modeling the nonpartisan think tank had done for a proposal with similar terms.
Generally, the payments would be $1,400 per individual, or $2,800 per married couple who file jointly, plus $1,400 per dependent. Unlike previous stimulus checks, both children and adult dependents would qualify.
Like the previous two rounds of checks, full payments would be available to individuals making up to $75,000 in adjusted gross income, heads of household with up to $112,500, and married couples who file jointly with up to $150,000.
The phase-out rate would make it so that payments declined by $50 for every $1,000 above the thresholds. That rate is “more or less the same” as the previous two sets of checks, Gleckman said.
The payments would phase out completely for individuals who earn $100,000 and couples with income of $200,000.
While moderate Democrats wanted to reduce those thresholds, progressive Democrats did not. With this proposal, it looks like the progressives thus far have won, Gleckman said.
“It’s always a possibility that they’ll give up a little bit of this,” he said.
Individuals would need to have a valid Social Security number in order to qualify. Couples where just one spouse has a valid number would get a $1,400 payment rather than $2,800. Their dependents would also be eligible for the checks, provided they also had Social Security numbers.
Deceased individuals who passed away before Jan. 1 will not be eligible.
The $1,400 payments will be based on 2020 tax returns, though if those are not on file yet, 2019 returns could be used instead, Gleckman said.
The legislation is expected to be passed by mid-March, at which point it may take several weeks for the direct payments to be deployed.
“You’re getting awful close to tax filing day,” Gleckman said. “I would imagine that it’s not going to be much of a hardship for people who are in line for significant payments to get their 2020 returns in.”