The HEALS Act introduced by Senate Republicans this week includes several key changes from the CARES Act that might expand eligibility to an estimated 26 million people, according to an estimate from a think tank.
The Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan Washington-based think tank, said that “one difference from the CARES Act economic impact payments is that the $500 additional payment for eligible dependents will be expanded beyond qualified children (aged 17 and under) to include other dependents excluded from payment in the CARES Act, such as adult dependents, including those with no income.”
“This is similar to the definition of dependents used in the HEROES Act proposed by House Democrats, and may expand the number of eligible dependents by at least 26 million people,” according to its analysis.
A memo (pdf) released by the Senate Finance Committee revealed that the equation to determine who gets a payment mirrors that of the CARES Act. It would generally provide $1,200 payments to people who make up to $75,000 and would reduce the payments by $5 for every $100 earned, meaning that those who earn $99,000 are ineligible. A similar equation applies to couples who jointly file their taxes.
The Tax Foundation noted that the second round of payments is “structured identically to the rebates sent to taxpayers in the spring” and “would provide $1,200 for single taxpayers and heads of household, $2,400 for those married filing jointly.” What’s more, the measure “would increase taxpayer after-tax income by about 2.59 percent, with the average rebate totaling about $1,523,” the organization wrote.
After the passage of the bipartisan CARES Act, a frequent point of criticism was that the bill did not provide $500 payments to dependents if they are aged 17 or older, excluding millions of college-age students and disabled dependents.
“Unlike under the CARES Act, where the additional $500 was limited to taxpayers with a dependent child under 17, the additional $500 will now be provided to taxpayers with dependents of any age,” said a summary of the proposal released by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).
The stimulus payments appear to be among the least-controversial pandemic relief items included in both the HEROES and HEALS Act.
Republicans have pushed for liability protections for businesses and hospitals, while Democrats have pushed for the expanded unemployment insurance program, which is slated to expire at the end of the month, to be extended until January 2021. They have also called for more funding to state and local governments while urging the passage of the federal eviction moratorium, which expired July 25.
At the start of June, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) reported that it sent out more than 159 million stimulus payments that are worth more than $267 billion. The vast majority—or 120 million—were sent via a direct bank account deposit, while the others were either sent as checks or in the form of a prepaid debit card.