Exactly as you hear it, or perhaps read it. Law makers in Washington are eyeing the possibility of yet another round payments for the population. With all the money Washington lawmakers are sending to individuals and families in 2021, between the third stimulus check and plus-up payments, should you expect a fourth stimulus check this year? The answer will depend on how Congress defines “stimulus check.” Large batches of the third stimulus check for up to $1,400 per person are still going out from the IRS. But some are now talking about more direct payments, especially as President Joe Biden eyes a new infrastructure bill for 2021, one focused largely on revving the economy, fixing infrastructure and combating inequality.
In early March, a group of 10 progressive senators, including Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, asked Biden to include recurring stimulus payments (PDF) in the next spending 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. This crisis is far from over, and families deserve certainty that they can put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads.” Later in March, another group of 21 Democrats made a similar request to Biden.
The current stimulus checks will cause the economy to grow rapidly, economists say, but also unevenly, 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, something other than a “stimulus check”? We spell out some possibilities below. If you’re waiting for your third stimulus check, here’s how to track your payment and here’s how to contact the IRS with a problem. Also here’s how to calculate your child tax credit. This story is frequently updated.
Another economic stimulus bill is in the works. Would it include a fourth 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 CTC 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 purpose 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.)