4th stimulus check? How you could see more money in 2021 – CNET

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Is Congress looking at a fourth stimulus check? There’s a chance.


Sarah Tew/CNET

President Joe Biden this week in a speech before Congress presented his next two stimulus proposals to help struggling Americans through the end of 2021 and into 2022. The next two proposals will be a companion to March’s American Rescue Plan that sent $1,400 stimulus checks to eligible families and individuals. As of this week, the IRS has made about 163 million payments as part of that bill, including “plus-up payments.” A fourth stimulus check is one way Congress could send money to those most in need. A potential fourth payment could also take the form of recurring payments.

In March, a group of 10 progressive lawmakers, including Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, asked Biden to include regular stimulus payments (PDF) in his next stimulus bill: “We urge you to include recurring direct payments and automatic unemployment insurance extensions tied to economic conditions in your Build Back Better long-term economic plan.” A few weeks later, another group of 21 Democrats made a similar request to Biden.

While the third stimulus check will help the economy to grow rapidly, it’ll also grow unevenly, economists say, with some cities projected to hurt for “decades,” even with COVID-19 vaccinations on the upswing and the US economy showing glimmers of hope. Would more direct payments arrive in a different form, other than a stimulus check? We spell out some possibilities below. Additionally, here’s how to track your payment and contact the IRS if there’s a problem. Also, here’s how to calculate your child tax credit. This story is updated frequently.

The next two stimulus bills are on the table. Will they include a fourth stimulus check?

Biden’s American Rescue Plan that passed in March is the first spending package in 2021, with $1,400 checks$300 extra in weekly unemployment benefits and an expanded child tax credit lined up. (See if you qualify for the recurring child tax credit payments.) The Biden administration is working on a sequel, a package the president refers to as the Build Back Better plan. That proposal aims to invest in the nation’s energy grid, transportation, broadband and water systems — and may not include stimulus checks, despite the urging of progressive senators (PDF).

(Note: There’s some debate over what counts as a “relief,” “rescue” or “stimulus” package. For the purposes of this article, “stimulus” refers to any funding, check or measure in response to the coronavirus pandemic or to inject money into the US economy.)


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Stimulus check 3: How much money you’ll get

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The next stimulus package could look different from the previous ones

The American Rescue Plan doesn’t authorize just one direct payment. It contains three types of payment designed to help struggling individuals and families. It’s possible a future bill could extend or introduce more money through direct checks that go to specific groups of recipients, including parents who earn below a certain income or people out of work.

Here are the three types of direct payments approved in the March 2021 bill:

Stimulus checks: The new one-time stimulus payments send up to $1,400 a piece to those who meet the requirements.

Child tax credit: An expansion of the child tax credit for 2021 sends qualifying families $3,600 for each child under age 6 and $3,000 for children age 6 or older, in periodic payments through the end of the year and into 2022

Federal unemployment bonus: A monthly federal unemployment check is being sent until Sept. 6 at up to $300 a month, in addition to state benefits for unemployed workers.

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Congress has already approved a variety of aid this year.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Congress could send out more payments this year in 4 other ways

Approve recurring payments: Biden’s infrastructure bill is the next likely place for Congress to provide more funding. This is where Democratic senators are calling on Biden to push for recurring stimulus checks during the pandemic.

Pass a minimum wage hike: Some senators continue to look for ways to boost the federal minimum wage, which currently stands at $7.25 per hour. Sens. Mitt Romney and Kyrsten Sinema are the latest to pitch a hike. Some proponents want to set the bar at a $15 hourly wage but others are looking to go to $11 an hour. “If any senator believes this is the last time they will cast a vote on whether or not to give a raise to 32 million Americans, they are sorely mistaken,” Sanders tweeted on March 5. A February report from the Brookings Institute models how a $15 minimum wage could help make 37% of US households financially self-sufficient.

Make the child tax credit raise permanent: Money from the expanded child tax credit is set to start in July, sending periodic payments to lower-income and middle-income families with children. According to White House press secretary Jen Psaki, Biden wants to make the child tax credit permanent. Others, including Romney, also support making the credit permanent since it will lift millions of children out of poverty.

Renew federal unemployment payments beyond September: Along with recurring payments, the 10 progressive senators in their letter to Biden requested he also extend federal unemployment assistance beyond September.

Here are all the ways the American Rescue Plan can help you, how much money you could expect in the third check and how to track your stimulus payment.

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