Stimulus checks began arriving in millions of Americans' bank accounts last month as part of the CARES Act signed into law in March. The IRS has already sent out more than 88 million checks and the agency continues to do so. Along the way, there have been several hiccups and updates, many just in the past seven days.
The stimulus checks are part of the $2.2 trillion CARES Act and are intended to help Americans during the coronavirus pandemic. Due to stay-at-home orders across the country, businesses not designated as essential have been suffering. On Friday, the U.S. Department of Labor reported that another 3.8 million Americans filed for unemployment through the week ending on April 25. That means since the middle of March, over 30.3 million Americans have filed for unemployment insurance. That is about 18.6 percent of the entire U.S. workforce, reports CNN.
Despite the ongoing economic crisis during the pandemic, there are no plans as of yet for a second stimulus check. The first check only provides at least $1,200 for Americans who filed taxes in 2018 and 2019, with the number doubled for joint-filers. The check also includes $500 each for dependents under 17 years old. There are proposals for additional stimulus payments, but Congress has not passed new legislation to provide them yet.
The IRS did launch a "Get My Payment" website to help Americans track their payments, which may come through direct deposit or as a physical check in the mail. In the meantime, Americans have been hungry for constant updates on the situation. Here are some of the news stories from the past week on the stimulus checks.
Ways to cash checks without a bank account
Not all Americans have bank accounts, which is why they could not provide the IRS with direct deposit information. This may also lead some to wonder if they can still cash their checks. This is possible to do, and without going into a physical bank. Walmart and supermarkets can cash your check, although you will probably have to pay a small fee. Walmart charges between $4 and $8.
Republicans don't support monthly relief payments
Congressional Democrats have voiced support for the Emergency Money for the People Act, legislation that would include monthly relief payments to Americans. After House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she was interested as well, Republican lawmakers fired back, accusing the Democrats of being "opportunistic." Rep. Steve Scalise reportedly called it a "radical socialist" idea. Rep. Jim Banks accused Congressional Democrats of using the crisis "to turn America into a socialist country."
Some payments for dependents delayed until 2021
A Washington Post report found that some parents have received their $1,200, but are missing the $500 per child payments. The CARES Act includes $500 per dependent under 17 years old. Some parents may not see this benefit until next year. "If you did not receive the full amount to which you believe you are entitled, you will be able to claim the additional amount when you file your 2020 tax return,” the IRS noted in a new statement on IRS.gov.
College students are left out
The CARES Act stipulates that only dependents under 17 are entitled to $500, added to their parents' stimulus check. That leaves out some college-age students whose parents might list them as dependants, even though they are 17 or older, and they will not get any kind of check. Even if they work full-time, they will not get a check if they are listed as someone's dependant. Ever since this oversight was publicized, college students have taken to social media to complain.
Key dates for people still waiting for checks
There are still plenty of Americans waiting for stimulus checks, even though they may be eligible for one. Social Security, survivor and disability beneficiaries were expected to see their checks deposited by April 29. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Veterans Affairs beneficiaries who do not have to file taxes could see theirs in early May. Social Security and Railroad Retirement beneficiaries also needed to register for the $500 per dependent benefits on the IRS site by April 22, and that deadline has not been extended. SSI and VA beneficiaries have until May 5 though.
Treasury Secretary says checks sent to the deceased should be returned
One of the more bizarre glitches from the process has been reports of deceased Americans receiving stimulus checks. This is partly to blame on the IRS simply not knowing that someone who filed their taxes for 2018 or 2019 has died. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told the Wall Street Journal those checks should be returned. "You're not supposed to keep that payment," Mnuchin said. "We're checking the databases, but there could be a scenario where we missed something, and yes, the heirs should be returning that money. We will be issuing guidance on this shortly."
Trump voices support for a payroll tax cut0comments
On Tuesday, President Donald Trump endorsed the idea of a payroll tax cut instead of another round of stimulus checks. This would mean dropping payroll taxes for things like Social Security and Medicare. One drawback of the idea is it might not result in a big economic surge all at once. Jason Furman, an economist who advised President Barack Obama, told Business Insider it would be more like a "slow drip."
"I like the idea of payroll tax cuts. I've liked that from the beginning. That was a thing that I really would love to see happen. A lot of economists would agree with me," Trump said Tuesday, reports ABC News. "It would really be an incentive for people to come back to work and for employers to hire."