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Analysis: Senate stimulus check changes would reduce recipients by up to 16 million

Senate Democrats’ proposed changes to the cutoffs for stimulus checks in the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package would result in millions of people no longer receiving payments compared to the bill passed by the House, according to analysts.

The left-leaning Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy estimated that 11.8 million fewer adults and 4.6 million fewer children would be eligible for the direct payments. Steve Wamhoff, the group’s director of federal tax policy, said the changes in the Senate bill would not reduce eligibility for people in the bottom 60 percent of income.

Kyle Pomerleau, a resident fellow at the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute, estimated that about 8.7 million fewer households would be eligible for direct payments under Senate Democrats’ agreement. He also estimated that the changes would reduce the cost of the overall bill by anywhere from $15 billion to $20 billion.

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The right-leaning Tax Foundation estimated that 6.5 million fewer tax filers would receive partial payments under the Senate plan, and that Senate Democrats' proposed payments would cost $17 billion less than the payments in the House bill.

The IRS said it issued more than 160 million first-round payments last year, and almost 150 million second-round payments.

Senate Democrats this week reached an agreement to reduce the number of higher-income households that would qualify for partial payments, compared to the version of the bill that passed the House over the weekend. This change reflects a priority of moderates who wanted the payments to be more targeted to lower-income households.

Like the House-passed bill, individuals with income of up to $75,000 and married couples with income of up to $150,000 would be eligible for full payments of $1,400 in the Senate proposal. However, Senate Democrats now say fewer households above those thresholds will be eligible for partial payments. The Senate is slated to vote on the package later this week.

Under the House measure, individuals with income above $100,000 and married couples with income above $200,000 would be ineligible to receive any payments. Those cutoffs are lowered to $80,000 for single filers and $160,000 for married couples in Senate Democrats’ agreement.

—Updated at 3:56 p.m.