Could a 4th stimulus check be coming in 2021? What to know about more payments

Is a new stimulus check in the works? What we know about the 4th payment debate

The fate of another direct stimulus payment is still to be determined. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

Should you be expecting a fourth stimulus check before the end of 2021? Since the American Rescue Plan in March, the IRS has issued over 165 million third stimulus checks and continues to send batches weekly. With this latest round of pandemic aid coming to a close, some members of Congress are pushing for a fourth payment, either as another check or in the form of recurring payments. Others in Washington disagree that any additional relief money is necessary. 

As President Joe Biden hasn’t committed to a fourth check, the debate is likely to continue. Some lawmakers are asking that the White House incorporate direct economic payments to struggling families in the new stimulus proposals, citing broad support by both the public and economic experts. Currently, those plans include other ways people can get benefits or tax breaks, including up to $3,600 per kid from the new child tax credit or $16,000 in tax credits for child care expenses. 

By the way, if you received an IRS letter signed by Biden, that confirms your third check, and you should keep it. We’ll tell you what we know about possible relief during this ongoing economic recovery. Meanwhile, here’s how to check on your tax refund and to see if you qualify for the recurring child tax credit payments. This story will continue to be updated.

Could a fourth stimulus check be on the horizon?

Approved in March, the American Rescue Plan was the Biden administration’s first stimulus package, which included $1,400 checks$300 extra in weekly unemployment benefits and an expanded child tax credit running into 2022. 

The White House has put forward two stimulus bills for 2021: the American Families Plan and the American Jobs Plan. Neither proposal calls for a new stimulus check at this stage. However, Democratic members of the House and Senate have thrown their weight behind a fourth stimulus check, including recurring or monthly payments. In late March, a group of 10 progressive lawmakers, including Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, asked Biden to include regular stimulus payments (PDF) in his next stimulus package.

“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,” the statement said. A few weeks later, a group of 21 Democrats made a similar request to Biden.

The most recent pitch for additional stimulus money came on May 17 from several members of the House Ways and Means Committee (PDF). Remarking on increased poverty and spiraling debt among Americans, their letter noted that “most people spent relief checks on monthly expenses or essentials such as food, utilities, rent, and mortgage payments.”

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Child tax credit: Everything we know


Could stimulus payments come through other means?

The American Rescue Plan from March contains three types of direct payments to individuals, one of which is the $1,400 stimulus check. It’s possible a future bill could extend or introduce more money through direct payments that go to specific groups of recipients, such as parents who earn below a certain income or people out of work.

The three types of direct payments approved in the American Rescue Plan were:

Stimulus checks: The onetime stimulus payments for up to $1,400 have gone to those who meet the requirements. There’s also money going to certain individuals in the form of “plus-up” payments

Child tax credit: A temporary expansion of the child tax credit for 2021 sends qualifying families up to $3,600 for each child — you can calculate your child tax credit total here. These monthly partial payment checks, which begin in July, will last through the end of the year, with a final payment in 2022. 

Federal unemployment bonus: A weekly $300 unemployment bonus, as well as pandemic unemployment assistance to gig workers and freelancers (the self-employed), was extended to Sept. 6. However, this month nearly two dozen state governments have chosen to opt out of the extended benefits, so millions of jobless Americans in those states will be cut off as early as June. 


Many are calling for continued economic assistance through the end of the pandemic. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

Will there be more financial assistance with the proposed American Families Plan?

As part of the White House’s economic stimulus strategy, the American Families Plan could include direct money to individuals and families. 

If it approves recurring payments: The proposal would be the next likely place for Congress to provide more funding in the form of a fourth, or even fifth, stimulus check. 

If it makes the child tax credit raise permanent: Money from the expanded child tax credit is set to start in July, sending periodic payments to lower-income and middle-income families with children. In his speech before Congress, Biden called on the House and Senate to extend the expanded child tax credit to 2025. Others, including Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, also support making the credit permanent, saying it could lift millions of children out of poverty.

If it passes a minimum wage hike: Some senators continue to look for ways to boost the federal minimum wage, which currently stands at $7.25 per hour. In his speech before Congress, Biden called on the legislators to raise the minimum wage to $15. Sens. Romney and Kyrsten Sinema have also pitched a hike. Some proponents want to set the bar at a $15 hourly wage, but others are looking to go to $11 an hour. A February report from the Brookings Institute models how a $15 minimum wage could help make 37% of US households financially self-sufficient.

If it renews federal unemployment payments beyond September: Along with recurring payments, some lawmakers had originally petitioned for federal unemployment assistance to extend beyond Labor Day this year. However, as dozens of states cut off extended benefits, many Democratic members of Congress are now expressing skepticism about allowing enhanced unemployment relief to continue past the September expiration date, as reported by Politico earlier this month. 

Here’s how to report a problem with your stimulus check, And here’s what we know about the new IRS portals that’ll help you get money with the child tax credit. 

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