President Trump signed four executive orders Saturday aimed at providing economic aid to Americans struggling during the coronavirus pandemic. The president's actions were meant to bypass Congress, which remains deadlocked on the terms of the next stimulus bill, and did not provide any funding for a second round of stimulus checks.
The one form of aid lawmakers reportedly agree on is a second set of one-time $1,200 stimulus checks. If lawmakers can reach a deal this week, most stimulus checks could be sent out this month, says Chad Hooper, the national president of the Professional Managers Association (PMA), which represents managers at the Internal Revenue Service.
Hooper says the IRS "is better positioned to issue a second check" than the government agency was in April, when it began distributing the first round of stimulus checks, "since the infrastructure is already in place to administer such a payment." And with 30 million Americans out of work, for many people, extra cash can't come soon enough.
Here's what we know about where the coronavirus aid bill negotiations stand. And if a stimulus check is approved, here's what you can do to ensure you receive yours fast, according to Hooper.
Congress was hoping to reach a coronavirus stimulus deal before breaking for a scheduled recess, which began August 10 and will last through September 8. While many lawmakers have returned home for the summer break, they will remain on 24-hour notice to return to Washington in case a deal is reached.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin expressed optimism Monday, saying Democratic leaders seemed "willing to compromise." "If we can get a fair deal, we're willing to do it this week," Mnuchin said in an interview on CNBC's "Squawk on the Street."
The Treasury secretary spoke after President Trump issued executive orders over the weekend to establish a payroll tax holiday, defer student loan payments through 2020, extend the federal protections from evictions, and provide additional unemployment benefits. But it remains to be seen whether or not the president's orders will actually come to fruition. That's because continuing these aid programs initiated as part of the CARES Act would require federal funding, which Congress controls.
Unemployment aid seems to be the major sticking point in negotiations. Lawmakers are at odds over how much extra federal unemployment to provide to jobless workers. Under the CARES Act, eligible Americans received an extra $600 per week until July 31. Democrats want to continue the extra $600 per week through January. Republicans have proposed reducing that to $200 per week through September, followed by 70% wage replacement through December.
The president's executive order sets the amount at $300 per week from the federal government, plus up to another $100 from the state. But don't factor that money into your budget just yet, experts say, since the executive orders are likely to face legal challenges.
While unemployment provisions vary drastically between party lines, stimulus check aid doesn't. Hooper says it's his understanding that the competing bills — the Republican's proposed HEALS Act and the Democrat's proposed HEROES Act — "both essentially provide a duplication of the first round of checks, with slight modifications to eligibility."
The GOP and the Democrats's stimulus check proposals aren't that different. Both plans say individuals with adjusted gross income of up to $75,000 would be eligible for full payments. Checks would be reduced for those making over that amount and would phase out completely for income over $99,000.
Under the GOP's plan, individuals stand to receive up to $1,200 and married couples could get up to $2,400. Households can also receive up to $500 per dependent, with no cap on the number of eligible dependents. The Democrats' HEROES Act also called for including all dependents, but it features a bigger payment of $1,200, instead of $500, for a maximum of three dependents per household.
Use this calculator to figure out how much you could get under the GOP's proposed coronavirus aid package.
If lawmakers do reach a deal, there are a few steps you can take to ensure your check will arrive quickly, Hooper says.
- File 2019 taxes. "If you haven't filed your tax return for 2019, we encourage you to do so as soon as possible and to do so electronically. This is the fastest, most reliable way to ensure the IRS has your most current information in its databases."
- Update your address. "If you've previously filed but moved, please contact the USPS and IRS with your new address as soon as possible."
- If you don't usually file taxes, use the IRS web portal. "For those who do not file a return, the IRS has a secure web portal to input your information so that your EIP [Economic Impact Payment] can be issued timely."
- Give the IRS your banking information. "For those seeking to share with the IRS their most current banking information for direct deposit, there is a web portal for taxpayers to do that securely on the IRS website."
Despite optimism from some lawmakers, don't bank on receiving a second stimulus check yet. Congress still needs to agree on a new round of coronavirus aid legislation, pass it, and send it to President Trump to sign into law.
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