Stimulus Checks: Are We About to See a 4th Payment?

Another 1.8 million Americans received $1,400 stimulus checks last week according to the IRS, but these are part of the American Rescue Plan Act President Joe Biden signed into law in March. That was the third stimulus check program to help Americans facing economic hardship during the coronavirus pandemic. Since Congress is in session again, we could soon get an update on the status of a fourth stimulus check.

Eligible Americans have received at least $3,200 from the first three stimulus check programs. In March 2020, the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act included a $1,200 payment for eligible individuals. In December, a $600 payment was sent out. The American Rescue Plan included a $1,400 payment, which some Americans are still receiving. The IRS has issued about 167 million payments from the American Rescue Plan's aid, with 1.8 million being sent out in the past week.

While the economy has seen some recovery, 4 in 10 Americans still say their income is under pre-pandemic levels, according to a TransUnion survey, reports CBS News. Almost 16 million people are receiving some jobless assistance, and the unemployment rate is 6.1%. A Center on Budget and Policy Priorities analysis of Census data showed one in four Americans are struggling to pay household expenses.

With that in mind, some in Washington are interested in passing legislation for a fourth stimulus check. After all, many Americans will run through the $1,400 payment quickly. On March 30, 21 Democratic senators sent a letter to Biden asking the president to support recurring stimulus payments. "Almost 6 in 10 people say the $1,400 payments set to be included in the rescue package will last them less than three months," the senators wrote. They did not specify how much these payments should be, but many Democrats had pushed for $2,000 checks in January before the American Rescue Plan's payment was lowered to $1,400.

The White House signaled that when it comes to a fourth check, it will let Congress take the lead. "We'll see what members of Congress propose, but those are not free," Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters during a May 4 press briefing. Psaki pointed to another program Biden has supported, extending the Child Tax Credit (CTC). The American Rescue Plan included a one-year expansion that increases the credit amount, which can be distributed in payments in advance beginning on July 15, notes Yahoo! Money. The IRS recently launched an online portal for families who do not file tax returns to apply.

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It would be difficult for the White House and Congress to pass another relief package that would include a stimulus program. The Biden administration is focusing on its $2 trillion infrastructure plan, which it also hopes will help lift the economy through several programs, including rebuilding roads and bridges and renovating schools and airports. In April, Biden said the proposal would be paid for by raising corporate tax rates from 21% to 28%, reports CBS News. Biden said no one making less than $400,000 would see a tax hike.