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Why some families around the U.S. got a bigger federal stimulus check

Why some families got a bigger stimulus check
Why some families got a bigger stimulus check... 01:02

Households in Utah have received the largest stimulus checks in the third round of direct payments with an average windfall of $2,784, according to new state-level data from the Internal Revenue Service. 

The IRS on Tuesday said it has sent almost $390 billion in direct aid to about 164 million U.S. households, noting that it is continuing to send checks to eligible people who recently filed tax returns or who are owed extra money under the relief plan. The agency also broke down its payments so far by state and income group, providing insights into which Americans are receiving the most from the latest round of aid. 

Because the payments are based on the number of eligible people in each household as well as individuals' income, the payments favor families with more children and those who earn below $150,000 annually. The typical household in Utah has 3.1 residents, compared with about 2.5 people per household nationally, as families in the Beehive state tend to have more children than people in other parts of the country. 

Under the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which President Joe Biden signed into law in March, children are eligible to receive $1,400 — the same amount as adults. That means larger families are likely to land bigger checks than households with fewer children. 

In Idaho, where IRS data show that households enjoyed the second-biggest average payout, at $2,628, the typical household size is 2.6 people. 

States with the smallest average per-household payments are in the Northeast, with Washington D.C. rounding out the bottom, at $1,965 per household. Massachusetts had the second-smallest payments, at an average of $2,215 per household. 

Families in the Northeast tend to be smaller compared with those in many Western and Midwestern states, and also tend to enjoy higher incomes, which likely limited the number of eligible families in New England. The typical household income in Massachusetts tops $81,000, compared with $71,000 in Utah, according to Census data. 

How much money can I make and still get a check?

The last round of stimulus checks provided $1,400 to each single tax filer earning less than $75,000, and $2,800 for couples making less than $150,000. Above those dollar thresholds, the payments taper off until they are cut off entirely for single people earning over $80,000 and married couples earning more than $160,000. 

More than half of the payments have been sent to households making less than $50,000 a year, the IRS said on Tuesday. Households earning less than $10,000 received the greatest number of payments, with the tax agency sending more than 22 million checks to this income group — far more than any other income segment. 

By dollar amount, households earning between $100,000 and $200,000 got the largest chunk of aid, at more than $52 billion. Those households may be more likely to represent two-earner families and married couples, which would result in $2,800 payments rather than $1,400 for single-person households. 

—With reporting from Irina Ivanova.

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