US stimulus checks news summary: 21 February 2021

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Third stimulus check updates today: IRS tax return, when it´s coming, how much, $600 California status | Live

Stimulus relief bill live updates - 21 February

Headlines:


- House Democrats will introduce $1.9 trillion covid-19 aid bill with $1,400 stimulus checks on Monday

- IRS tax return could decide your third stimulus check entitlement (full story)

- Rep. Lieu (Dem) pledges to pass stimulus check legislation "next week" (full story)

- Governor Newsom has announced details of a new covid-19 relief bill that would see Californians receive direct payments worth up to $600, if eligible (full story)

- Progressives continue to push for $2,000 recurring stimulus checks

- US retail sales rebound strongly in January amid additional stimulus

-  President Biden has urged Congress to "pass the American Rescue Plan and deliver much-needed relief"

- Study says child tax credit expansion and stimulus check boost could halve child poverty in the US

- Get the latest stimulus check news in Spanish (las noticias sobre los cheques de estímulo en español)

- US covid-19 cases/deaths: 28.07 million / 498,384 (live updates)

What to do if you lose your IRS Taxpayer Identification Numbers

Millions of Americans are currently preparing their tax returns to send to the IRS, something which can always be a fiddly process. Most of the details needed for the filing are related to your personal information and employment situation, but there are some that are specific to the tax return process. 

If you're not sure where to look to find your Taxpayer Identification Numbers here's a full breakdown of what they mean, and where you can find them. Tax returns will likely decide the amount that you receive in the third stimulus check payments so make sure to get your filing done promptly. 

Read more:

Stimulus checks will provide "urgent aid to those in need"

President Biden's chief of staff, Ron Klain, has outlined the need for Congress to pass the covid-19 economic relief bill that is set to be tabled tomorrow. America is in the midst of an unemployment crisis that is disproportionately affecting low income earners. The bill includes a third stimulus check worth up to $1,400 which is intended to provide short-term relief to those who are really struggling.

This has caused a dramatic rise in childhood poverty and food insecurity on a national level as millions are left without sufficient income for months on end. Biden's American Rescue Plan puts together $1.9 trillion of federal funding. It is hoped that the bill can be passed in the coming weeks and stimulus checks may begin distribution in March.

Biden defends his stimulus bill proposal

Shortly before the American Rescue Plan is due to be unveiled in the House of Representatives, President Biden has responded to questions regarding the cost of the package. The $1.9 trillion bill includes a third stimulus checks worth $1,400, boosted unemployment benefits and a new-look child tax credit. 

All of these measures are aimed at providing additional financial support to those who have been hardest hit by the pandemic. Biden argues that the trillions of federal spending will help to kick-start the American economy, which has been ravaged by the pandemic. In fact, studies have shown that a targeted round of stimulus checks, as he has recommended, is a very efficient way to boost the economy because the money is more likely to be spent than saved. 

Your IRS tax return could decide how much you get in your stimulus check

Tax season 2021 has already begun and millions of Americans will be filing their annual tax returns with the IRS in the coming weeks. However this year will be different with tax details likely to be used to decide eligibility for the third stimulus check, worth up to $1,400. 

Stimulus check eligibility is largely based on the Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) entered on your tax return, which is defined by the IRS as “gross income minus adjustments to income”. The higher your AGI, the less money you will recieve in your stimulus check. 

But with adult dependents to be included in the payments for the first time and millions more expected to be eligible after suffering loss of income over the last year, the timing of your tax return could be crucial to maximising your stimulus check entitlement. 

Read more:

 

Stimulus bill offers $1.9 trillion of economic support

The $1,400 stimulus checks have probably been the most publicised part of President Biden's American Rescue Plan, but there is plenty more in the huge stimulus bill than just a third round of direct payments. California Rep. Ted Lieu throws his support behind the proposal which includes both immediate and more long term financial relief for individuals, families and businesses that are struggling. 

The stimulus bill will be proposed in the House tomorrow and Lieu said recently that he expects the package to be passed by the end of the week. From there it will go to the Senate where the Democrats expect to use reconciliation to pass the bill after facing stiff opposition from the Republicans. 

Stimulus bill could halve childhood poverty

The American Rescue Plan proposed by President Biden has the potential to halve childhood poverty in the United States if it can be passed in Congress. Included in the stimulus bill is significant changes to the child tax credit entitlement which would see the amount upped to monthly payments of up to $300 per child. Biden hopes to have these payments made in monthly direct deposits, more like the stimulus checks. 

The $1,400 stimulus checks are also expected to make a significant difference to low income Americans with much need direct assistance. Unemployment rates have soared since the pandemic forced shutdowns across the country and millions are still out of work, with families to feed. 

 

“As we continue to fight the pandemic and recover, I’m grateful for the Legislature’s partnership to provide urgent relief and support for California families” 

Gov. Gavin Newsom, on California's $600 stimulus checks

Democrats confident of passing stimulus check bill

The Democrats will officially propose President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan in Congress on Monday. One of the key inclusions in the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill is a third round of stimulus checks, which will be worth up to $1,400 per person. The stimulus checks are one of the key forms of direct support that Biden’s bill offers, along with extended unemployment benefits and a beefed up child tax credit allowance.

The Democrats hold a narrow majority across both Houses and will have to rely on a Senate mechanism known as reconciliation to pass the bill. The House is expected to vote on the bill at some point next week and will start to ball rolling for the package to be signed into law. 

Read more:

Graduates who file tax returns may now be eligible for stimulus checks

In the past millions of Americans were denied stimulus checks due to their status as 'adult dependents' on someone else' tax returns. It is thought that around 13.5 million people missed out on a payment for this reason, more than half of whom were students listed on their parent's tax returns. 

But as tax season 2021 begins there is a chance for college students who have recently graduated to get retroactive payments, to cover the $1,200 and $600 stimulus checks that they missed out on. If you now file independently you may be able to claim a tax rebate for the missing cash, which the IRS will distribute as they process your tax return. 

Third stimulus check: When is it coming?

House Democrats are set to officially propose Biden's American Rescue Plan in Congress tomorrow, before it can be sent on to the Senate. The Democrats should have the votes in both Houses to pass the bill, which includes a third round of stimulus checks worth up to $1,400 per person. 

However there may be some issues with the distribution of the vital support as the IRS are currently in the midst of a busy tax season. Tens of millions of Americans will submit their tax returns in the comings weeks and there are concerns that this could disrupt the stimulus check process. 

Some groups are therefor likely to get their stimulus checks well before others, with some potentially having to wait until late April to get the cash. For other, the payments could be in their bank accounts in March. 

Read more:

Sen. Schumer wants stimulus bill to address "health and economic crisis"

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has thrown his support behind the $1.9 trillion relief package that will provide $1,400 stimulus checks to eligible Americans. The proposal will be introduced in the House tomorrow but it is in the Senate, Schumer's domain, where it is likely to face the most opposition. 

During previous discussions a group of GOP lawmakers were eager for the stimulus checks to be reduced to $1,000 to lower the overall cost of the bill. However the Democrats should be able to pass the stimulus bill without Republican support using reconciliation. There are hopes that the package can be signed into law in early March, so the stimulus checks can be sent out soon after. 

Stimulus bill needed for national "emergency"

Democrat Congressman Matt Cartwright has told reporters in the Capitol that he believes that the American Rescue Plan, the stimulus bill set to be introduced to the floor on Monday, should be viewed as emergency funding. The US jobs market is still reeling from the economic fallout from the pandemic and the $1.9trn package includes plenty of immediate financial relief. 

Included in the bill is funding for a third stimulus check, this time worth $1,400, which could be a lifesaver for millions of families. There is also an extension to the additional unemployment benefits and a beefed up child tax credit system which would be worth up to $3,600 per year. 

Missing stimulus checks can be claimed on tax returns

The IRS have confirmed that they have sent out every stimulus check from the second round of payments, but acknowledge that some may still have missed out on the $600. Distribution issues, administrative errors and incorrect filing may have prevented millions from receiving the money that they were entitled to, but it's not too late!

The IRS also oversee the tax returns process and allow Americans to claim any stimulus checks that they have not received in the form of a Recovery Rebate Credit. If this applies to you, you can still claim both the $1,200 and $600 stimulus check payments on your upcoming tax returns. 

Rep. Lieu: "We will pass the American Rescue Plan legislation next week"

Democrat Congressman for California Ted Lieu has announced on Twitter that he expects the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill to be passed in the House next week. The legislation, Biden's American Rescue Plan, is set to be tabled on Monday and will be put to a vote before the end of the week. 

With a solid majority in the House the Democrats should have no problem securing the votes needed, and with it the next round of stimulus checks draws closer. The $1,400 direct payments appear certain to remain in the package despite the potential for amendments. However there is still some debate about exactly who should be eligible for the stimulus checks. 

Stimulus checks could be passed in the House next week

The third stimulus checks have been the focus of much discussion since President Biden took office but we now have the first solid information of when it´s coming. The Democrats have confirmed that they intend to officially introduce the American Rescue Plan in Congress on Monday. This will start the congressional process to have the bill passed in the House by the end of the week. 

The bill will then travel to the Senate for further debate, but it seems hghly likely that it will be successful. The Democrats intend to utilise a Senate mechanism known as reconciliation to pass the bill without Republican support. Lawmakers aim to have the new bill signed into law in the first half of March, to prevent the existing federal funding for relief programme running out. 

Stimulus checks could be passed in the House next week

The third stimulus checks have been the focus of much discussion since President Biden took office but we now have the first solid information of when it´s coming. The Democrats have confirmed that they intend to officially introduce the American Rescue Plan in Congress on Monday. This will start the congressional process to have the bill passed in the House by the end of the week. 

The bill will then travel to the Senate for further debate, but it seems hghly likely that it will be successful. The Democrats intend to utilise a Senate mechanism known as reconciliation to pass the bill without Republican support. Lawmakers aim to have the new bill signed into law in the first half of March, to prevent the existing federal funding for relief programme running out. 

Democrats to fight for minimum wage

Despite facing opposition among Republican lawmakers, progressive Democrats are determined to see a national minimum wage of $15 included in President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus package. 

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Garland vows to prioritize civil rights

President Joe Biden's attorney general nominee Merrick Garland will tell the Senate on Monday he plans to prioritize civil rights and combat domestic terror if confirmed as the top US justice official, according to remarks released on Saturday.

The Justice Department's mission to enforce the 1957 Civil Rights Act "remains urgent because we do not yet have equal justice," said Garland, whose confirmation hearing is scheduled to begin Monday.

"Communities of color and other minorities still face discrimination in housing, education, employment, and the criminal justice system; and bear the brunt of the harm caused by pandemic, pollution, and climate change," he said.

Garland, 68, serves as a judge on the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, one of 13 federal appeals courts. Former President Barack Obama, a Democrat, nominated him to the Supreme Court in 2016, but the Republican-controlled Senate at the time refused to hold hearings on the nomination.

Garland's confirmation this time around is considered a near-certainty, as several key Republican senators have endorsed him.

If confirmed by the full Senate, Garland will inherit the beginnings of a probe into the deadly storming last month of the US Capitol by former President Donald Trump's supporters, as well as the challenge of preventing future domestic attacks.

In his remarks, Garland called the 6 January riot a "heinous attack" on the peaceful transfer of power, and said that "battling extremist attacks on our democratic institutions also remains central" to the Justice Department's mission 150 years after its founding.

He will also face the daunting task of rebuilding a civil rights enforcement program that many advocates say was diminished by the Trump administration, promoting initiatives to eliminate racial disparities in criminal justice, and restoring morale among Justice Department employees, whom Trump repeatedly attacked as being part of a "deep state."

If confirmed, Garland will also face several politically sensitive investigations. Delaware’s top federal prosecutor is investigating Biden’s son Hunter over tax issues and federal prosecutors in Manhattan are probing former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s business dealings in Ukraine. Giuliani served as Trump's personal lawyer.

Photo: Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

Biden's relief bill under question from economists

The US president has spoken of the need to spend big and spend now to kick-start the economy and provide relief for millions of Americans hit hard by the knock-on financial effects of the coronavirus pandemic but several economists have questioned whether the size of the proposed $1.9 trillion stimulus bill is sustainable with the federal coffers already $900 billion lighter after the previous aid package.

trump

Trump plans return to spotlight

Donald Trump will seek to return to the political spotlight in an address to a major meeting of conservatives, a source familiar with his plans said on Saturday, as the Republican plots his post-White House moves.

Trump plans to speak to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida, on 28 February, the last day of their meeting, the source told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

"He’ll be talking about the future of the Republican Party and the conservative movement. Also look for the 45th President to take on President (Joe) Biden’s disastrous amnesty and border policies," the source said.

Trump's tumultuous four years in the White House ended shortly after he was impeached on a charge of inciting his supporters' deadly Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol, where lawmakers were gathering to certify Biden's victory in the 3 November election.

After spending two months falsely claiming his election loss was the result of widespread fraud, Trump was acquitted in an impeachment trial held in the Senate after he left office. The 57-43 vote fell short of the two-thirds majority needed for a conviction.

Trump has expressed anger at the 17 Republicans in the House of Representatives and Senate who voted to impeach or convict him, and on Tuesday he aimed his rhetorical fire at Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the nation's most senior elected Republican.

The loss of both the White House to Biden and control of the Senate - which Democrats picked up in a pair of upset Georgia election runoff victories last month - has left Republicans on edge as they plot how to win back control of Congress in 2022.

Trump and McConnell parted ways in the weeks after the November election, with Trump irked that the Kentucky Republican had recognized Biden as the winner in mid-December. They have not spoken since, a former White House official said this week.

Trump called McConnell "a dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack" this week and warned that if Republican senators stayed with him "they will not win again."

The gap between Trump and McConnell widened when the latter declared after the Senate's acquittal of the former president that Trump was "practically and morally responsible" for the Capitol siege.

A number of top Republicans who are considered possible candidates for the party's 2024 presidential nomination are also due to speak at CPAC, including Trump's secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, and Kristi Noem, the governor of South Dakota.

Two notable Republicans from the Trump administration not on the CPAC speaker list are former UN ambassador Nikki Haley and former Vice President Mike Pence.

Another source told Reuters that Trump had rebuffed a request by Haley to meet with him recently after she was critical of him in a Politico article.

Since he took office, Biden has signed numerous executive orders and actions dealing with issues such as climate change, health care, immigration and Civil Rights.

biden

Biden's "honeymoon" period over?

One month into the job, President Joe Biden is on the cusp of securing a bigger economic rescue package than during the 2009 financial crisis. He has wiped out his predecessor Donald Trump's policies from climate change to travel bans, while the US daily covid-19 vaccine distribution rate grew 55%.

That may have been the easy part.

The White House's broad strategy - avoid unwinnable political fights, focus on policies with mass voter appeal, and mostly ignore Republican attacks - will be increasingly difficult in the months ahead, Democrats and Republicans say, even as millions more are vaccinated and the economy rebounds.

"They've got some problems right around the corner," said Jim Manley, once a top aide to former Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Biden has made many of the changes he has clear authority to do by executive action. Landmines going forward include pushing laws on which the Democratic Party is divided, such as college debt relief, tax hikes and curbs on the energy industry.

Then there are the intractable policy fights that have defined American politics for a generation, including who can become a citizen, how easy it should be to vote, whether the government should pay for healthcare, and who should carry a gun.

Meanwhile, many tricky issues, from trade tariffs to China policy to tech oversight, are still under review at the White House.

Photo: Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

Biden's promise to deliver $1,400 stimulus checks

In a Q&A session published on Twitter on Friday, US president Joe Biden vowed that Americans would receive their $1,400 stimulus checks as soon as it is passed by Congress. "You can get your stimulus check as soon as the House and Senate pass my legislation. We committed to you, Democrat and Republican, a $2,000 stimulus check. $600 came forward last time around. Another $1,400 will be coming".

New Jersey to receive $9 billion as part of stimulus package

New Jersey and its municipalities would receive an estimated $9.4 billion as their portion of President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion Covid Relief package - $350 billion of which would be allocated in aid to state and local governments. The chief recipient is Newark, who would receive more money than any other New Jersey city, $169 million. Jersey City would get $135 million and Trenton $68 million.

Will the 3rd stimulus check be sent out before March?

With direct payments of $1,400 lined up in President Biden's American Rescue Plan, and a vote expected to approve them, when can you expect them to be sent?

More information:

Filing information for those receiving EITC or ACTC

Those who have claimed Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) might have had their tax refund withheld by the IRS. The IRS is legally obliged to do this but filers can use the “Where’s my refund” tool to update their return here. Those that update their tax return status before Monday 22 February are likely to receive their refund by the first week in March.

Calls for stimulus checks to be more targeted

The American Rescue Plan includes a round of direct payments worth up to $1,400 but Senators have passed an amendment calling for the checks to be more focused.

Read more here:

Democrats keen to get Covid Relief Bill signed off before 14 March

Democrats are racing to ensure that the proposed $1.9 trillion Covid Relief package bill is on President Joe Biden's desk and ready for him to sign by 14 March, the date when some unemployment benefits are due to expire.

Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Assistance (PEUC) and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits will expire on 14 March, hence the rush to get the legislation through.

 

Biden refuses to write off $50,000 student debt

US President Joe Biden has offered to cancel a maximum of $10,000 per borrower in student debt but is not willing to write off personal debts of $50,000 per student. Last month Biden extended the payment pause on student loans to September 2021 which means that repayments on loans have been suspended with 0% interest. Overall, student debt in the US stands at around $1.6 trillion. If Biden were to forgive $50,000 of student debt per borrower, it would wipe away all debt for 80% of students.

 

Biden is willing to make $1.9tn Covid relief bill "cheaper"

US President Joe Biden responded to Republican calls to trim his $1.9tn Covid relief package during a visit to the Pfizer manufacturing plant in Kalamazoo, Michigan this weekend.

'Let me ask them, what would they have me cut? What would they have me leave out?' Biden demanded. 'Should we not invest $20 billion to vaccinate the nation? Should we not invest $290 million to extend unemployment insurance for the 11 million Americans who are unemployed so they can get by? Should we not invest $50 billion to help small businesses stay open when tens of thousands have had to close permanently?' he asked. 

 

IRS Tax Return Update: Where's My Refund?

Little over a week into tax season 2021 and the IRS have confirmed that they are experiencing significant delays on processing mailed documents. The extra wait, due in part to the pandemic, comes as the third round of stimulus checks appears to be drawing closer. 

As well as functioning as the federal tax authority, the IRS have also been in charge of the administration and distribution of the previous two rounds of stimulus checks. There are concerns that once the new payments are ready to be sent (likely some point in mid March) they could leave the IRS overwhelmed

WIth longer waits likely, the IRS have published new advice: "Expect delays if you mailed a paper return or had to respond to an IRS inquiry about your e-filed return. You should only call if it has been 21 days or more since you e-filed [or] "Where's My Refund" tells you to contact the IRS".

$1.9 trillion COVID aid bill slammed as "liberal wish list"

The 591-page Covid Relief bill unveiled by House Democrats on Friday night has been slammed as a liberal wish list by Republicans.

The bill, which is due to go to the Senate within the next two weeks, includes $1,400 direct checks to eligible Americans earning $75,000 or less per year, extensions of $400 in federal unemployment benefits and a federal minimum wage increase to $15.00 per hour.

House of Representatives minority whip Rep. Steve Scalise said, “It’s clear Democrats have no interest in approaching Covid relief in a timely and targeted fashion and are instead using the reconciliation process to jam through their liberal wish list agenda”.

Bernie Sanders 'confident' minimum wage will be raised to $15

Vermont senator Bernie Sanders is confident that lawmakers will be able to raise the minimum wage to $15 via the reconciliation process. Democrats are pushing to include a $15 minimum wage in Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion Covid relief package via reconciliation.

“Raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour is not incidental to the federal budget and is permissible under the rules of reconciliation. The CBO has found that the $15 minimum wage has a much greater impact on the federal budget than opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling and repealing the individual mandate penalties — two provisions that the parliamentarian advised did not violate the Byrd Rule when Republicans controlled the Senate. I’m confident that the parliamentarian will advise next week that we can raise the minimum wage through the reconciliation process."

California stimulus bill to provide boost for small businesses

Earlier this week Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a new $9.6 billion state-wide relief bill aimed at providing immediate relief for those worst-hit by the pandemic. The proposal came as Congress is still yet to pass Biden's American Rescue Plan or the $1,400 stimulus checks included within. 

The California bill is state-funded and will see $600 stimulus checks sent to 5.7 million low-income Californians, defined as those earning less than $30,000 per year. The package is expected to be voted on this Monday with state officials eager to get the money out as swiftly as possible. 

In a statement released recently, Newsom said he was happy to "have reached an agreement on a package of immediate actions that will speed needed relief to individuals, families and businesses suffering the most significant economic hardship"

$3600 Child Tax Credit: how's the current negotiation for it?

House Democrats have released the full text of the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill Including a provision to enhance the Child Tax Credit. What’s in the bill?

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Hello and welcome to our live blog for Sunday 21 February on stimulus checks, California state stimulus, IRS tax filing season and more.

We'll be here all day bringing you the latest updates as they unfold in the US. Who's eligible for what, when to expect checks and help with how to file your tax returns.

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