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IRS says it's sending millions more additional stimulus checks

Federal aid programs plagued by delays
Some struggling families are still waiting on government aid 06:43

The IRS on Wednesday said it is continuing to distribute federal stimulus checks to eligible Americans, with another 2.2 million payments issued as recently as July 21. Some of those payments include "plus-up" adjustments for people who received less money than they were entitled to in earlier checks.

The latest round of payments is part of the Biden administration's efforts under the American Rescue Plan to deliver $1,400 to each eligible adult and child. The IRS said it has now delivered more than 171 million payments worth more than $400 billion, with the last batch of checks amounting to more than $4 billion.

The tax agency added that it is continuing to issue stimulus checks on a weekly basis. Payments are still going out to people for whom the IRS didn't previously have enough information to issue a check but who recently filed a tax return, as well as for people who qualify for extra money known as "plus-up" payments.

The IRS has said it has sent more "direct relief" via the third stimulus check than compared with the two previous rounds of payments. More than half of the payments have been sent to households earning less than $50,000, while about 1 in 10 stimulus checks were sent to Social Security and other government-aid beneficiaries who aren't required to file a tax return, and to those who used the Non-filer tool on the IRS website, the agency has said.

People can still receive their stimulus payments by either filing a 2020 tax return or using the Non-filer tool on the IRS website, which is aimed at people whose incomes aren't high enough to require them to file a tax return, the agency said on Wednesday. People don't need to have children to qualify for the third stimulus check, although the Non-filer tool will also allow people with eligible children to register for the expanded Child Tax Credit program — which began providing monthly payments on July 15.

Long wait for some

While the latest stimulus payments began hitting bank accounts in March, some people have had to wait weeks or months for their checks. That's because the IRS prioritized sending checks to people who had already filed their 2019 or 2020 tax returns, since the agency was able to quickly verify eligibility based on income and also determine where to mail they checks or directly deposit the money in known bank accounts. 

But some others, such as those who aren't required to file tax returns or who claimed adjustments on their payments, have had to wait for the IRS to process their payments. 

Among the 2.2 million payments are 1.3 million checks sent to people who recently filed a tax return and for whom the tax agency didn't previously have enough information to issue the money. And another 900,000 payments were for plus-up adjustments for people who qualified for bigger checks based on recently processed 2020 tax returns, the IRS said. 

Fourth stimulus check?

The latest batch of checks comes as 26 states have or will soon end enhanced unemployment aid, cutting of millions of jobless workers from $300 in weekly jobless aid two months before the federal funding is due to expire. About 1 in 4 people on unemployment will lose their benefits from the early cutoff of jobless benefits, according to an estimate from the Century Foundation, a liberal-leaning think tank. 

Many families continue to struggle with a financial hit to their income since the pandemic, with the unemployment rate standing at 5.9%, or still far higher than its pre-pandemic level of 3.5%. A quarter of Americans struggled to pay their household expenses in the previous week, according to Census survey data from June 23 to July 5. And almost one-third of households continue to cope with reduced income due to the pandemic, according to a recent study from TransUnion.

"One spouse may be fine or one partner is fine but the other is seeing an impact" on their income, said Charlie Wise, head of global research and consulting at credit-reporting agency TransUnion, although he noted the data show an improvement from a year earlier, when about half of households experienced a loss of income. "It'll take a lot to get everyone back to full employment."

That's prompting some lawmakers to call for a fourth stimulus check. More than 20 senators — all Democrats — signed a March 30 letter to President Joe Biden in support of recurring stimulus payments, pointing out that the $1,400 payment being distributed by the IRS won't tide people over for long. 

So far, experts say it's unlikely that another round of checks will be approved by lawmakers anytime soon. But some people are now receiving aid through the expanded Child Tax Credit, with the American Rescue Act directing the IRS to send monthly checks from July through December for eligible parents. 

The Child Tax Credit will deliver payments of $300 for each child under age 6 and $250 for each child between ages 6 to 17 to low-income and middle-class families who earn below an income threshold.

The IRS said those income thresholds are:

  • $75,000 or less for single taxpayers
  • $112,500 or less for heads of household
  • $150,000 or less for married couples filing a joint return and qualified widows and widowers
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