Will You Get a Stimulus Check Under the New COVID-19 Relief Bill?

December 22, 2020 1:06 PM , Updated December 27, 2020 8:15 PM
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$100 bill pictured upright in a 3D fashion with the image of Benjamin Franklin wearing a surgical face mask to protect from COVID-19 coronavirus; a spread of $100 bills cash lies underneath the upright $100 bill

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Congress passed another COVID-19 relief bill on Monday, and it will include another round of direct payments to Americans. Included with it is a bill to fund the government for the remainder of the current fiscal year.

President Trump has until December 28 to sign the funding legislation to stave off a shutdown before the current 7-day continuing resolution expires. The president is expected to sign the bill, however.

Update: After threatening to veto the bill, President Trump has signed it into law thereby averting a partial government shutdown.

So what’s in the new $900 billion, 5,593 page coronavirus relief spending bill? These are some items federal employees are likely to find of most interest.

Stimulus Checks

The government will be sending out another round of stimulus checks as it did under the CARES Act. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he expects they will start being distributed as soon as next week.

At $600 per person, the payments will be smaller than they were under the CARES Act.

Individuals making up to $75,000 will get a direct $600 payment, and married couples filing jointly who make up to $150,000 per year are eligible for a $1,200 payment. The payments begin phasing out for individual income over $75,000, when head-of-household income exceeds $112,500, and when income for married couples filing jointly exceeds $150,000. The payments are phased out entirely for single people earning over $87,000 or married couples earning more than $174,000. For comparison, under the CARES Act, the payments were excluded for single people earning over $99,000 and for couples earning over $198,000. 

Also, dependent children under age 17 are eligible for $600 payments.

Social Security Payroll Tax Deferral

Perhaps a lesser known provision of the bill that Congress just passed is one that will apply to federal employees.

President Trump issued an Executive Order that enabled deferral of Social Security payroll taxes. Federal employees were required to participate, and the tradeoff was that they would have higher paychecks in the fall when the tax wasn’t withheld, but then have smaller checks in the spring of 2021 when the taxes had to be paid back.

For this reason, some lawmakers decided that this was unfair and were pushing to make the payroll tax deferral optional. That hasn’t happened, but under the new coronavirus relief bill, federal employees will have until December 2021 to pay back the taxes. Prior to that, the taxes would have been due by April 2021.

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Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He enjoys writing about current topics that affect the federal workforce.

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