Three stimulus checks helped many people pay for household expenses and cover other needs during the pandemic.
Americans are continuing to struggle financially while also dealing with the impact of the delta variant, and they’re calling for a fourth stimulus check. While there’s public support behind another payment, Congress has its focus on the $1 trillion infrastructure bill and the $3.5 trillion federal budget package. But there’s still relief aid on the table this year and next, especially for parents.
For starters, the IRS is disbursing monthly cash payments to millions of families through the expanded child tax credit, with the next check going out Sept. 15. And based on the American Rescue Plan signed in March, a newborn child who counts as a qualifying dependent this year could be eligible for that third stimulus payment of up to $1,400, though the money won’t be available until after filing a tax return in 2022.
The tax agency is also sending supplemental “plus-up” payments for owed stimulus amounts through the end of summer. There are $1,000 “thank you” payments going to teachers and school staff in some states, and California residents will see another round of Golden State Stimulus checks for $600 (or up to $1,100) in September. A petition calling for $2,000 monthly checks continues to gather support and the White House has floated the idea of sending $100 to the newly vaccinated.
Does Washington have plans for a 4th stimulus payment?
The short answer is no.
Researchers have found that the first three stimulus checks helped reduce hardships like food insufficiency and financial instability. So far, during the pandemic, eligible adults have received a max of $3,200 and children have received up to $2,500. For struggling families, that’s not enough to bounce back from lost wages and benefits.
Since the American Rescue Plan, the White House has proposed several packages, including the American Jobs Plan and the Build Back Better agenda, but those don’t call for more direct aid. President Joe Biden is “open to a range of ideas” regarding stimulus aid, according to a June statement by White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, but that he already put forward what would be “the most effective for the short term.”
The new scaled-back compromise of the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure deal, which was agreed to in the Senate on July 28, doesn’t include anything related to “human infrastructure” — it doesn’t address child care, improved wages or job training. Instead, those elements could be included in the proposed $3.5 trillion reconciliation package. The Senate took the first step toward approving the broader package through budget resolution, and the House recently followed suit.
It’s been some months since Democratic members of the House and Senate argued for another stimulus check. In late March, a group of lawmakers asked Biden to include regular stimulus payments (PDF) in his next stimulus package. In May, several members of the House Ways and Means Committee (PDF) made a similar request. Citing increased poverty and spiraling debt among Americans, they noted that “most people spent relief checks on monthly expenses or essentials such as food, utilities, rent and mortgage payments.”
Now playing: Watch this: Child tax credit: Everything we know
Other relief money to be disbursed this year and next
Advance child tax credit payments: A temporary expansion of the child tax credit for 2021 sends qualifying families up to $3,600 for each child — you can calculate your child tax credit total here. The advance partial payments, which began July 15, are issued monthly and last through the end of the year, with a final payment in 2022. Parents also have the option of deferring the advance monthly checks and instead getting one larger payout in the form of a tax refund next spring.
Additional federal stimulus money: The third stimulus payments of up to $1,400 are still going out in batches to those who are eligible. The IRS is also sending out “plus-up” payments, which is extra money making up the difference between the stimulus amount you already received (based on your 2019 return) and the amount you’re eligible to receive (based on your 2020 return). Also, if an individual in your family becomes a dependent in 2021, such as a newborn or foster child, they could also be eligible for a $1,400 payment. According to the tax agency, for any new qualifying dependents to receive the third payment, you’d have to claim a Recovery Rebate Credit on your 2021 tax return that you’ll file in 2022.
Stimulus payments to Californians: California has approved two rounds of state-level stimulus payments to eligible residents. Called Golden State Stimulus I and II, these payments are intended to support low-income Californians and help those facing hardships due to the pandemic, the state said. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office claims that nearly two-thirds of residents qualify for the expanded Golden State Stimulus II, amounting to a one-time payment of $600 (with an additional $500 for eligible families with children). The stimulus checks will start going out in September, the state said.
Bonuses to teachers: As part of the American Rescue Plan, state and local governments received $350 billion in assistance. Much of that aid will go to schools, with some states deciding to pay their teachers and other school staff a “thank you” bonus of up to $1,000. The states participating are Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Colorado, Texas and California. It’s likely other states will approve similar funds in the future, as they have until 2024 to spend the funds.
Details about the $2,000 monthly stimulus petition
A Change.org petition that has collected more than 2.8 million signatures calls on Congress to send out a fourth stimulus check of $2,000 for adults and $1,000 for children on a monthly basis for the remainder of the pandemic. The petition notes that “the recovery hasn’t reached many Americans” and points to the need for immediate checks and recurring payments so that “we can keep our heads above water.” While the Change.org petition is close to becoming one of the most popular on its website, whether it will have any effect is another question.
The IRS will continue to send stimulus payments until all eligible Americans have received their checks.
Sarah Tew/CNET Will Congress approve more aid soon?
Though there’s plenty we still don’t know and much up for debate, there could be additional cash in the pockets of Americans in the following scenarios:
If it makes the child tax credit raise permanent: Money from the expanded child tax credit started this summer with monthly payments to millions of lower- and middle-income families with children. In a July 7 speech, Biden called on Congress to extend the expanded child tax credit through 2025. Other aspects of the American Families Plan related to health care costs and medical leave have yet to be negotiated in the upcoming $3.5 trillion Democratic spending plan.
If it passes a minimum wage hike: Some senators continue to look for ways to boost the federal minimum wage, which stands at $7.25 per hour. A few proponents want to set the bar at a $15 hourly wage, and others are looking to only go up to $11 an hour. In recent years, many states, localities and businesses have implemented minimum wage increases above the federal level. However, the discussion of a new national rate of $15 an hour has hit a roadblock in recent months, and the likelihood of it being enacted anytime soon is low.