Third stimulus check news summary: 08 March 2021

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Third stimulus check updates today: who gets the payment, how much, who qualifies, IRS tax | Live

Stimulus check news: live

Headlines:

- House of Representatives looks set for a final vote on changes to relief package on Wednesday, after Senate passed President Joe Biden's $1.9 stimulus bill on Saturday (full details)

- President Biden likely to sign stimulus bill into law this week before December benefits expire

- Biden to give first prime-time address to the nation on Thursday

- Bill provides for $1,400 stimulus checks and $300 weekly unemployment benefits through September 6

- White House says Americans can expect stimulus checks "by the end of the month" (who'll qualify?)

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

- US covid-19 cases/deaths: 29.05 million/525,728 (live updates)

Further reading: related news stories

Nancy Pelosi says House will take up stimulus bill by Wednesday

The US House of Representatives will take up by Wednesday the Senate version of the sweeping $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package backed by President Joe Biden, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Monday.

 

Airlines and travel groups urge Biden government to develop virus passport

US airlines, joined by travel groups and labour, urged the Biden administration to take the lead in developing standards for temporary covid-19 health credentials that would help reopen global travel by documenting vaccinations and test results.

Wall St

Dow advances as stimulus bill nears finish line

The Dow hit a record intra-day high but the big tech stocks that have led Wall Street to scale successive peaks over the past year fell, with the Nasdaq closing down 2.41%. The Nasdaq is now down 10.6% from its Feb. 12 record close, or more than a 10% slide the market considers a correction.

Shares related to finance, restaurants and travel rose on expectations those sectors will do well when the economy reopens, but they were unable to offset the weight of the bigger tech shares that dominate the U.S. stock market.

After the stimulus bill won U.S. Senate approval on Saturday, President Joe Biden said he hoped for quick passage by the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives so he could sign it and send $1,400 direct payments to Americans.

90% of American households eligible for stimulus checks

The Penn Wharton Budget Model estimates 90% of American households will be in line for the new round of stimulus payments. The full amount is $1,400 per person, but that phases out over the earnings thresholds. Full amount paid out under the following threshold:

Individuals: $75,000 adjusted gross income
Heads of households: $112,500
Married couples: $150,000

The upper limits, that is the amount over which you will receive no stimulus payment are as follows:

Individuals: $80,000
Heads of households: $120,000
Married couples: $160,000

What you may notice is that the upper limits are lower this time around, so people who received a check last time, albeit not for the full amount, may miss out this time. (The limits for the first check were $99,000 for individuals, $136,500 for head of household filers with one child and $198,000 for married couples)

94% of households received the first stimulus check, while 92% got the second (it phased out faster because the full amount was smaller, only $600).

 

Biden to give first prime-time address to the nation

On Thursday, President Joe Biden will address the nation in his first prime-time address, which will mark the one-year anniversary of covid-19 shutdowns. "The president will look forward, highlighting the role that Americans will play in beating the virus and moving the country to getting back to normal," said White House press secretary, Jen Psaki.

This may come on the heels of Congress passing his first major piece of legislation the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. On Wednesday the House is due to give final approval on the sweeping covid-19 relief bill passed in the Senate on Saturday.

The bill includes a number of measures to speed the recovery of the US economy and reduce the toll of the pandemic, including extending unemployment benefits and a third round of direct stimulus payments, this time for $1,400.

Getting stimulus checks into people’s hands

Getting the stimulus payments out to people should, in the most part, be fast and straightforward this time around - the IRS have sent out a whole heap of them already, and the bulk of the 160 million households expected to receive them should get their hands on the cash in the near future . Democrats in Congress have said the payments will go out in “short order” once President Biden signs the bill into law. That means days rather than weeks for many.

A key drive this time around though is to get payments to more people who earn too little to file tax returns or don’t get other federal benefits and who may have missed out on earlier rounds. One area which may be easier now is finding homeless people and those without internet access, because the community outreach groups that were closed down in spring 2020 due to the pandemic are now generally open and able to help in signing people up, according to Janet Holtzblatt, senior fellow with the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center speaking to Reuters.

$10,200 unemployment benefit tax waiver

Unemployment benefits have caused far more issues with the passage of the bill than the $1,400 stimulus check. One provision that made it through the Senate was a tax waiver on the first $10,200 in unemployment benefits received in 2020 for households earning under $150,000. Full details:

Will President Biden's name or signature be on the stimulus checks?

White House press secretary Jen Psaki was asked if Biden's name or signature would be on the stimulus checks. Her answer was they still don't know, but she also made it clear that it's really not a priority:

"Our focus is on getting this bill across the finish line, getting relief out to the American people, which we will expect will happen by the end of the month, in terms of getting the relief out, in terms of what the checks will look like, I just don't have an update on that for you today.

Whether Biden's name is on the checks or not may not appear to be the most crucial question, but remember when Donald Trump made sure his signature was on the first batch of stimulus checks, that may have delayed them being sent out by several days. Officials back in April said engineers needed to make system changes and test them to include Trump's name. 

Note that Trump's signature was actually on the memo section of the checks, as the president is not legally authorised to sign disbursements. Given that and Biden's desire to make a very clean break with the way Trump did a lot of things, our money would be on there being no sign of Biden's signature anywhere near this round of stimulus checks

Biden going to be carrying on with the work after stimulus package made law

"There's still much more to be done, and absolutely no room for complacency. We're racing to finalize passage of this bill [the American Rescue Plan] and the president looks looks forward to signing this into law. And then the real work will begin," reads a White House memo drafted by senior adviser Anita Dunn and National Economic Council Director Brian Deese obtained by CNN.

Biden said about the passing of the bill in the Senate on Saturday: "By passing this plan, we'll have proved that this government, this democracy, can still work. It has to be done. It will improve people's lives."

Child tax credit - $3000 or $3600: how much will it be per child?

On Saturday, the Senate passed a measure to expand child tax credits for 2021 as part of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan.

Full details:

Who voted for and against Biden's bill in the Senate?

The American Rescue Plan narrowly passed the Senate on Saturday and now heads to the House of Representatives, but which senators actually voted for the $1.9 trillion bill?

Full story:

"People are pretty optimistic that this is going to pass and get to the president’s desk at some point this week"

NBC News’ Capitol Hill correspondent Leigh Ann Caldwell says Democrats in the House of Representatives can be expected to approve the changes made to President Biden's $1.9tn stimulus bill in the Senate, despite frustration among progressives at amendments such as a tightening of eligibility for the third round of stimulus checks.

"Some of the progressives took to Twitter to say that they weren’t OK with those changes because they were made to appeal to some of the more moderate Democrats like Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia," Caldwell reported on Monday, "but what was really telling was that the Congressional Progressive Caucus put out a statement over the weekend that called this piece of legislation 'bold' and 'really forward-looking' and called the concessions 'very minor'.

"So that was a sign to me that it looks like Speaker Pelosi is going to have the progressive wing of the party, the one who was most likely to defect on it because of these changes, that they are going to most likely be on board. We know it’s a slim majority Democrats have in [the House] so they can’t afford to lose more than a handful of Democrats, but it looks like people are pretty optimistic that this is going to pass and get to the president’s desk at some point this week."

What to do if "Your tax return is still being processed" message appears

With the IRS stretched to the limit this year, you may need to be patient as you wait for your tax refund.

More info:

Lack of minimum-wage increase frustrating, but getting checks into people's pockets the "overriding concern" - Khanna

Congressman Ro Khanna (D-Calif) says House Democrats will overwhelmingly vote to accept the changes made to President Biden’s $1.9tn stimulus package in the Senate, despite "frustration" among progressives over the exclusion of an increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

"There’s definitely frustration about that," Khanna told CNN on Monday, "but overall no-one wants to play games with people’s lives. People are suffering, and the fact that this is going to get checks and money directly into the pockets of people and cut child poverty, cut poverty, I think is going to be the overriding concern, so I believe it’ll have the votes to pass."

Asked about tensions between the progressive and moderate Democratic wings, after pressure from centrist senators in the party led to the tightening of stimulus-check eligibility and a $100 reduction to an initial $400 unemployment-benefits boost, Khanna said: "Of course there are going to be differences, but here’s the important point: we are coalescing around a $1.9tn stimulus that’s going to help the economic recovery, that’s going to pass with every Democrat ultimately most likely for it, so I think that the unity of purpose outweighs the differences and the differences are healthy because ultimately we’re each fighting for our convictions."

When was the first stimulus check sent out and how much was it?

Full details:

Who'll qualify for the third stimulus check?

The House is preparing to approve the changes to President Biden's $1.9tn relief bill - with narrowed stimulus-check eligibility among the amendments made to the version that passed the Senate on Saturday.

Full details:

Americans can expect stimulus check "by the end of the month" - Psaki

More on White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki’s remarks today on the timeline for payment of the third stimulus check (see post below) - Psaki says qualifying Americans can expect to get their check of up to $1,400 "by the end of the month".

"As the president said on Friday, we expect a large number of Americans to receive relief by the end of the month, but in terms of the mechanics of it the Treasury has to work through that and an update will likely come from them," Psaki told a press briefing on Tuesday.

Narrowed stimulus-check eligibility set to see 17m more Americans miss out

The narrowed eligibility requirements for the third stimulus checks mean 17 million fewer Americans stand to receive a direct payment than initially planned, says the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.

The coronavirus relief bill approved by the Senate on Saturday included changes to the stimulus-check income caps that featured in the legislation when it was passed by the House of Representatives late last month.

Although the income eligibility limit for the full stimulus check of $1,400 was kept at $75,000 for individuals and $150,000 for joint filers, the final phase-out cap originally set at $100,000/$200,000 was reduced to $80,000/$160,000.

In a research note published earlier this week, the ITEP said it estimated that the bill passed by the Senate "would benefit 280 million people (adults and children), compared to 297 million people under the House proposal".

The House is set to vote on the revised stimulus package on Tuesday.

How to claim your stimulus check on 2020 tax return

Didn’t get your second stimulus check? Never fear, you can claim your missing payment as part of your 2020 tax return through Recovery Rebate Credit.

Full details:

Biden

US can deliver stimulus aid checks quickly, but child tax credit is a hurdle

The US government should be able to start delivering $1,400 checks almost immediately once Congress finalizes a new aid bill and President Joe Biden signs it, tax experts say. Some Americans might receive direct payments as soon as this week if the House of Representatives, as expected, passes the $1.9 trillion bill on Tuesday, compared with the lag of several weeks experienced in April 2020.

Nearly 160 million households are expected to get payments, the White House estimates. The Treasury Department's Internal Revenue Service will have new challenges on its hands, though, thanks to the relief bill, which Biden and his fellow Democrats argue is needed to stem the continuing economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

Incarcerated people, those with non-citizen spouses and relatives of those who died in 2020 will be eligible to receive payments. The bill also includes an expanded child tax credit of up to $3,000 per child, or $3,600 for each kid under the age of six. The IRS will pay part of this in monthly installments of $250 or $300 from July through December, adding a benefits distributor role to the revenue collection agency's responsibilities.

A US Treasury spokeswoman said the Biden administration's priority was to speed relief to Americans, adding: 'Treasury stands ready to implement the direct payment check program as soon as the American Rescue Plan is passed.'

Making one-off payments to those who regularly file tax returns should not be a struggle for the IRS, said Janet Holtzblatt, senior fellow with the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center. 'As they have already ironed out many of the snafus that slowed the previous rollouts.

Senator Bob Casey claimed that payments will go out 'in very short order,' Casey said. 'The Treasury Department is prepared for this. They've been dealing with this issue since last March.' Another key priority for the next round will be signing up more people for electronic payments, including those earning too little to file tax returns or those not getting other federal benefits, who were left out of past payment rounds.

Homeless people and those without internet access will be difficult to reach, but Holtzblatt said community outreach groups that were shut down last spring due to the pandemic could now provide some help in signing them up.

The child tax credit changes are a vast undertaking, tax experts say. All taxpayers earning under $200,000 with children 17 or under living with them at least half the year can claim the credit. Biden's bill increases the credit to $3,000, from $2,000, for each child aged 6 to 17 for parents earning under $75,000 each and allows the monthly installments to supplement incomes and reduce child poverty.

Nina Olson, executive director of the Center for Taxpayer Rights in Washington and the IRS' national taxpayer advocate from 2001 to 2019, said a key challenge would be determining whether the children actually lived with their parents, which could hold up the payments. The IRS also needs to change its culture to reflect a changing mission, she said. 'The IRS needs to recognize that it's not just a revenue collector, but it is a social benefits administrator, and it needs to staff itself and organize its training accordingly,' Olson said.

 

"Just 9% of $1.9tn rescue package dedicated to Covid relief"

Iowa Senator Joni Ernst was the latest Republican to claim President Biden's $1.9tn rescue package is excessive, and says that just Just 9% of it will go towards Covid relief with just 1% allocated for vaccination.

A $1.9tn coronavirus relief bill including a third round of stimulus checks was approved by the US Senate on Saturday.

Read more:

Barasso: "People will lose enthusiasm when they found out what’s in Relief bill"

Wyoming Senator John Barrasso believes that the $1.9 coronavirus relief bill contains many provisions which GOP voters are against, items which he says, are little more than a Democrat wish list. He told NBC’s Meet the Press programme, "When people find out what's in this bill, they are going to lose a lot of enthusiasm they may have for it right now because this was not really about coronavirus in terms of the spending. This was a liberal wish-list of liberal spending  - just basically filled with pork. It didn't need to be this way. We have passed five, bipartisan coronavirus relief bills already. Every Republican voted against it, but also some Democrats voted against it. This was never about getting people back to work or kids back to school with the disease behind us, and that's where it should have been focused".

Jen Psaki: Biden feels there is a path forward on raising minimum wage 

In today's press briefing, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki assured that the Biden Administration will pursue raising the minimum wage, even though plans to hike the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 were removed from the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan bill. Psaki explained, "First, I would say, Senator Manchin and Senator Sanders, and a range of Democrats in between, just voted to support a $1.9 trillion package that is the most progressive piece of legislation in history. I would say we feel pretty good about that. And the fact that, that package was not broken up, it still contained the key components that the President advocated for - $1400 checks, assistance to schools and yes, there were some changes on the margins but it is the core of what he had originally proposed.

"The President feels there is a path forward on a range of issues where there has been a history of bipartisan support - including infrastructure. Infrastructure improvements are not a Democratic issue, they are not a moderate issue, a progressive issue, a conservative issue... the American people wants their roads, rails and bridges to be reformed. He feels there is a path forward. There is no bill that is being considered, he is having discussions to hear good ideas from members of both parties. And once we have a bill we are happy to have a discussion on how we move it forward".

Jen Psaki

Yellen "focused on getting stimulus checks out asap"

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki gave an update on the status of the economic aid which is included in President Biden's Relief Bill, telling reporters today: "I can assure you, having been on a call with her this morning that Secretary Yellen is focused like a laser on ensuring that there is a clear process and system for ensuring this assistance gets out as quickly as possible. My friends, neighbours... everybody's asking me the same thing about when they will get assistance, when this will go out the door... It really is up to them on the mechanics of it. And as I noted a little bit earlier, there was concern about the gap of people who were left out in the December package and didn't receive the assistance and that is certainly something that is being factored into the administration and the process here. I will leave it to Treasury to provide an update on the mechanics of it".

Texas winter storm victims to get extensions and other tax relief

Victims of last month's winter storms in Texas will have more time to file their individual and business tax returns and make tax payments, the Internal Revenue Service. Those in the state will have 15 June to file their returns or pay any taxes which are due.

The 15 June deadline also applies to quarterly estimated income tax payments which are due on 15 April and the quarterly payroll and excise tax returns normally due on 30 April. It also applies to tax-exempt organizations, operating on a calendar-year basis, that have a 2020 return due on 17 May. More information can be found on the IRS web site.

Child Tax Credit changes

(Reuters) - The Child Tax Credit changes are a vast undertaking, tax experts say. All taxpayers earning under $200,000 with children 17 or under living with them at least half the year can claim the full credit.

President Biden’s bill increases the credit to $3,000 per child from $2,000 and allows it to be paid in advance for all income levels, as monthly cash payments from July to December of this year.

Nina Olson, executive director of the Center for Taxpayer Rights in Washington and the IRS’ national taxpayer advocate from 2001 to 2019, said a key challenge would be determining whether the children actually lived with their parents, which could hold up the payments.

The IRS also needs to change its culture to reflect a changing mission, she said.

“The IRS needs to recognize that it’s not just a revenue collector, but it is a social benefits administrator, and it needs to staff itself and organize its training accordingly,” Olson said.

US could send $1,400 covid bill payments within days

(Reuters) - With plenty of practice sending coronavirus relief payments to Americans, the federal government should be able to launch the delivery of $1,400 checks almost immediately once Congress finalizes the new aid bill and President Joe Biden signs it, tax experts say.

Some Americans might see direct payments as soon as this week if the bill passes the House of Representatives on Tuesday as expected, compared with several weeks’ lag in April 2020. Nearly 160 million households are expected to get payments, the White House estimates.

The Treasury Department’s Internal Revenue Service will have new challenges on its hands, though, thanks to the $1.9 trillion relief bill. Incarcerated people, those with non-citizen spouses and relatives of those who died in 2020 will be eligible for payments.

Why are unemployment benefits changing from $400 to $300?

The stimulus bill was passed by the Senate on Saturday after a record-breaking 12-hour vote that saw both sides offer crucial amendments to the $1.9 trillion package. The discussion centered on the unemployment provision included in the bill, a key part of President Joe Biden’s economic recovery plan.

Senator Joe Manchin was needed to give the Democrats the majority to pass the bill but he threatened to support a Republican amendment that would have thrown the delicate compromise into jeopardy.

Some careful negotiation brought Manchin back onside, but how did the dramatic events unfold and what jobless support is now included in the stimulus bill?

Read more:

IRS warns against EFIN scammers

The Internal Revenue Service, state tax agencies and tax industry has warned tax professionals of a new scam email that impersonates the IRS and attempts to steal Electronic Filing Identification Numbers (EFINs).

More information here.

Who will be eligible to receive the 2020 tax-free waiver?

Since the beginning of the pandemic, unemployment benefits have been one of the most important financial lifelines offered by the federal government.

As the American jobs market was ravaged by the pandemic, around 40 million Americans received unemployment insurance benefits last year, according to study from Century Foundation.

The total amount spent by the federal government on the support is thought to be over $580 billion if you include the extra weekly $600 payments from the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) programme and the $300 weekly payments provided by the Lost Wages Assistance (LWA).

Tax waiver could wipe $10,200 from your 2020 tax bill

In the course of discussions with Sen. Joe Manchin, the Democrat who threatened to vote against the bill, the weekly jobless payment was dropped from $300 to $400 and the length was also shortened by a few weeks to 8 September. However, the 2020 tax waiver remains.

This means that taxpayers who received support during the course of 2020 will not be made to pay tax on the first $10,200 of unemployment benefits that they received. It is important to note that this is a retroactive waiver for benefits received in the 2020 tax year, not for the upcoming year's support.

Unemployment benefits 2020: how much is the tax-free waiver?

Thanks to a new inclusion in the stimulus bill, millions of Americans will get tax deductions or refunds on their unemployment benefits payments.

Full story:

Biden

How to apply for unemployment benefits

To apply for the benefit payments you need to file a claim with the unemployment insurance programme in the state where you last worked. States have their own procedures for doing so, but can usually be filed in person, by telephone, or online.

Here are some general tips to get started:

- As soon as possible after you become unemployed, you should contact your state's unemployment insurance programme.

- The claim should usually be made with the state where you last worked. If you worked in a state other than the one where you now live or if you worked in multiple states, the state unemployment insurance agency where you now live can provide information about how to file your claim with other states.

- To file the claim you will need addresses and dates of your former employment, so be sure to give the correct information to avoid delays.

- You can find the contact information for your state's unemployment office on the Department of Labor Online Portal.

Supplemental unemployment benefits extended

The $300 weekly payments will be the most universally available unemployment support, but there is also federal funding for other groups.

The mixed-earner supplement is extended until 6 September and will provide an extra $100 per week for those whose income is a mix of self-employed and wages paid by their employer. They are often given a lower state-issued unemployment benefit because their paid salary is lower.

There is also an extension to the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance programme, which covers the self-employed, gig workers, part-timers and others who are not able to receive regular unemployment benefits. The support for this group is available until 6 September as well and is capped at a cumulative total of 79 weeks, up from 50.

Who will get extra payments from the stimulus bill?

Additional unemployment benefits will be extended until September 2021 under the terms of the new stimulus bill that passed the Senate on Saturday. The $1.9 trillion package would provide a $300-a-week federal boost, with the payments ending on 6 September.

There is also a new tax-free unemployment benefits allowance that will allow recipients with an annual household income of less than $150,000 to avoid paying tax on the first $10,200 that they receive.

Read more:

jobs

Jobs growth in US exceeds expectations

The jobs improvement came amid falling new covid-19 cases, quickening vaccination rates and additional pandemic relief money from the government, putting the labor market recovery back on a firmer footing and on course for further gains in the months ahead.

Nonfarm payrolls surged by 379,000 jobs last month, after rising 166,000 in January. In December, payrolls fell for the first time in eight months. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast February payrolls increasing by 182,000 jobs.

"This is a rather impressive nonfarm payroll report," said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at OANDA in New York.

"There's momentum in the labor market and what that’s doing is providing I think more optimism that the growth picture is looking even better."

dollar

US stimulus bill sees peak in dollar

Asian shares rallied on Monday while the dollar held near three-month peaks after the US Senate passage of a $1.9 trillion stimulus bill and a surprisingly strong payrolls report augured well for a global economic rebound.

There was also upbeat news in Asia, as China's exports surged 155% in February compared with a year earlier when much of the economy shut down to fight the coronavirus.

BofA analyst Athanasios Vamvakidis argued the potent mix of US stimulus, faster reopening and greater consumer firepower was a clear positive for the dollar, and drag for bonds.

"Including the current proposed stimulus package and further upside from a second-half infrastructure bill, total U.S. fiscal support is six times greater than the EU recovery fund," he said. "The Fed is also supportive with US money supply growing two times faster than the Eurozone."

Third stimulus check: who voted for and against in the Senate?

The American Rescue Plan narrowly passed the Senate and now heads to the House of Representatives, but which Senators actually voted for the $1.9 trillion bill?

Full story:

IRS

IRS challenges

Making one-off payments to those who regularly file tax returns should not be a struggle for the IRS, said Janet Holtzblatt, senior fellow with the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center.

"They have already ironed out many of the snafus that slowed the previous rollouts," Holtzblatt said. "The IRS continues to surprise me in its ability to step up to these challenges."

t took more than two weeks for the IRS to begin sending the first $1,200 electronic payments to taxpayers in April 2020 after then-President Donald Trump signed the $2.2 trillion CARES Act into law on March 27. There was more than a three-week lag for paper checks, after changes were made to print Trump's name on them.

The year-end $900 billion stimulus was signed by Trump on Dec. 27, a week after Congress passed it. The IRS began sending electronic payments out two days later, on Dec. 29.

Biden left the IRS plenty of room after Senate passage on Saturday, saying his plan "would get checks out the door this month."

IRS

Issuing child tax credit a bigger challenge for IRS

The IRS, which has more than 70,000 employees, handles over 190 million individual and corporate tax returns a year, but it has been hobbled by budget cuts and obsolete technology in recent years. The covid-19 bill includes $1.46 billion for the agency, which is running into its busiest season, as the April 15 deadline for individual taxpayers approaches.

A U.S. Treasury spokeswoman said the Biden administration's priority was to speed relief to Americans, adding: "Treasury stands ready to implement the direct payment check program as soon as the American Rescue Plan is passed."

Biden

US could send $1,400 covid payments within days

With plenty of practice sending coronavirus relief payments to Americans, the federal government should be able to launch the delivery of $1,400 checks almost immediately once Congress finalizes the new aid bill and President Joe Biden signs it, tax experts say.

Some Americans might see direct payments as soon as this week if the bill passes the House of Representatives on Tuesday as expected, compared with several weeks' lag in April 2020.

Nearly 160 million households are expected to get payments, the White House estimates.

The Treasury Department's Internal Revenue Service will have new challenges on its hands, though, thanks to the $1.9 trillion relief bill. Incarcerated people, those with non-citizen spouses and relatives of those who died in 2020 will be eligible for payments.

AMC

Covid cases recede as Americans enjoy a taste of their old lives again

Covid-19 cases recede and the rollout of vaccines accelerates, people are enjoying a taste of their old lives again.

Over the past weekend, New Yorkers watched movies on the big screen, San Franciscans dined indoors, and baseball fans cheered on their favourite big-league players as spring training resumed in Florida.

In just one month, the mood in the United States has rebounded from an eight-year low to the highest level recorded.

"It feels awesome," said civil engineering specialist Matt Skelton, 39, leaving a concession stand on Saturday afternoon clutching a bag of popcorn at TD Ballpark in Florida's West Coast city of Dunedin, seasonal home of the Toronto Blue Jays.

"You can feel how it's not as tense or stressed. People are feeling a sense of relief," added Skelton, muffled by his mask.

Biden’s bill to easily pass house, Democrats Say

The latest on the bill from Bloomberg's Congress correspondent Erik Wasson.

full article here:

Shalanda

Biden deputy budget nominee Young wins Republican plaudits

Shalanda Young, President Joe Biden's nominee to be his deputy budget director who has emerged as the top contender for budget director after the nomination of Neera Tanden was withdrawn, won praise from Republican lawmakers on Thursday for her ability to work across the political aisle.

"These days wide bipartisan support is rare, but when Senators Graham, Leahy, Sanders and Shelby agree, either we're in a some sort of weird space-time continuum or the nominee is exceptionally capable," said Republican Senator Bill Cassidy, referring to fellow Republicans Lindsey Graham and Richard Shelby and Democrats Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sander.

"Ms. Young is a qualified individual with a distinguished record in public service. I look forward to the committee and the Senate approving her nomination," said Cassidy, in his introduction of Young to a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee confirmation hearing.

House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other top Democrats, including the Congressional Black Caucus, say that Young should replace Tanden as Biden's nominee for director of the Office of Budget and Management.

IRS warns against EFIN scammers

The Internal Revenue Service, state tax agencies and tax industry has warned tax professionals of a new scam email that impersonates the IRS and attempts to steal Electronic Filing Identification Numbers (EFINs).

more information here

Stim check

When will the next wave of stimulus checks be distributed ?

We can expect the first stimulus checks to begin distribution within a week of the bill being signed into law by President Biden. The first ones to go will be the direct deposits into bank accounts, which account for the majority of payments.

They will be followed by the physical stimulus checks around a week later, and finally by the Economic Impact Payment debit cards. The later may begin to be sent out around three weeks after the bill is signed into law.

J. Powell

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell pledges to keep credit 'loose'

Jerome Powell has repeated his pledge to keep credit loose and flowing until Americans are back to work, rebutting investors who have openly doubted he can stick to that promise once the pandemic passes and the economy surges on its own.

With vaccines rolling out and the government fiscal taps open "there is good reason to think we will make more progress soon" toward the Fed's goals of maximum employment and 2% sustained inflation, Powell told a Wall Street Journal forum.

But "even if that happens it will take substantial time...We want labor markets consistent with our assessment of maximum employment. That means all of the things," Powell said in reference to hopes for not only a low unemployment rate but wage and job gains that flow to minorities and others often left out of the first stages of an economic rebound.

dollar

Stimulus boost sees dollar stand tall

The U.S. dollar gained on Monday, climbing towards a 3-1/2-month high, as a broad rise in Treasury yields spooked investor sentiment in stock markets.

Having fallen 4% in the last quarter of 2020, the dollar has strengthened more than 2.4% year-to-date against rivals as investors expect the broad rise in U.S. bond yields to weigh on stretched equity valuations and boost the greenback's appeal.

"Rising U.S. yields have added to equity market volatility and supported the US dollar," UBS strategists said in a daily note. "The Federal Reserve remains dovish, but chair Jerome Powell chose not to push back verbally against higher yields providing a further short-term boost to the greenback."

The Senate passed a $1.9 trillion covid-19 relief plan, a day after a stunning U.S. jobs report sent the greenback to its highest level since November 2020.

JB

42% of Americans feel the nation is heading in the right direction under Biden

In January 2021, just 15% of Americans thought the country was headed in the right direction, according to a poll taken after the deadly attack on the Capitol by supporters of former president Donald Trump. The latest poll, conducted Feb. 18-24, shows that since then the percentage who think the country is headed in the right direction has nearly tripled, to 42%.

In North Carolina, college students whose university experience was rocked by the pandemic drew solace from watching a basketball game between UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke University men's teams, only the second game this season with spectators.

"Everyone was saying we would rather come to this than graduation," UNC-Chapel Hill college senior Charlotte Wirtz said on Saturday night. "It doesn't make up for losing a whole year."

FT analysis on American Rescue Plan

The celebrated financial daily offer their perspective on the ins-and-outs of Joe Biden's stimulus proposal.

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IRS extends tax deadline for Texans

With the 'Lone Star' state subject to recent winter storms, the IRS has extended the filing deadline to those hampered by the adverse weather conditions in the state.

 

JB

Biden feels a lot of Republicans had been close to backing the bill

"I still haven't given up on getting their support" on future legislation, he told reporters.

Biden last week had a bipartisan meeting with members of the House of Representatives on infrastructure spending, another policy goal. After that meeting, Republican Representative Sam Graves said his party's concerns must be taken into account.

"Republicans won’t support another Green New Deal disguising itself as a transportation bill," he said. The Green New Deal program is backed by progressive Democrats who want to cut U.S. carbon emissions and invest in renewable energy.

But the partisan wrangling over the covid-19 bill may have poisoned the well for bipartisanship in the near term. Republicans say the Democrats were not serious about finding a bipartisan consensus on the coronavirus measure.

CNN Early start break down latest news surrounding the bill

 

Procedural manoeuvrer called "reconciliation" allowed Democrats to get around the 60-vote hurdle for the stimulus bill

A procedural manoeuvrer called "reconciliation" allowed Democrats to get around the 60-vote hurdle for the covid-19 stimulus. It lets bills affecting spending, revenue and debt levels pass with a simple majority.

But there are limits to how often reconciliation can be used and what it can be used for, as the Democrats learned when the Senate's rules expert jettisoned Biden's campaign promise to raise the minimum wage to $15 as part of the covid-19 package.

Illinois senator challenges Ted Cruz allegations

One of the most tense exchanges during the debate over passing the bill came between Illinois senator Dick Durbin and Republican Ted Cruz after the Texan senator claimed that illegal immigrants would be eligible to claim the stimulus benefits.

Biden: "This plan is historic"

The President on the American Rescue Plan

VP Harris appeals to Americans to take covid vaccine in NBA All-Star appearance

Vice President Kamala Harris on Sunday appeared ahead of the NBA All-Star Game and appealed for Americans to take covid-19 vaccines, as President Joe Biden's administration seeks to counter vaccine hesitancy among African Americans.

"I'm urging everyone to get the vaccine when it is your turn. I've taken the vaccine," said Harris, the first Black American to serve as vice president, in clips from a conversation with actor and producer Michael B. Jordan broadcast ahead of the game.

"It's about understanding that it's bigger than you. It really is an extension of love thy neighbor and it will save their life," said Harris.

 

Schumer

US Senator Schumer predicts Biden will sign covid relief bill by 14 March

US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer predicted on Saturday that the House of Representatives will approve the Senate-passed version of a covid-19 relief bill and President Joe Biden will sign it by 14 March, when enhanced federal unemployment benefits expire.

Facebook

US agency probes Facebook for 'systemic' racial bias in hiring

A U.S. agency investigating Facebook Inc for racial bias in hiring and promotions has designated the probe as "systemic," attorneys for three job applicants and a manager who claim the company discriminated against them.

A "systemic" probe means the agency, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, suspects company policies may be contributing to widespread discrimination.

The EEOC typically resolves disputes through mediation or allowing complainants to sue employers. But agency officials designate a few cases "systemic," enabling investigators to rope in specialists to analyze company data and potentially bring a broader lawsuit representing entire classes of workers.

Facebook operations program manager Oscar Veneszee Jr. and two applicants denied jobs brought a charge last July to the EEOC, and a third rejected applicant joined the case in December. They have alleged Facebook discriminates against Black candidates and employees by relying on subjective evaluations and promoting problematic racial stereotypes.

Unemployment benefits 2020: how much is the tax-free waiver?

Thanks to a new inclusion in the stimulus bill, millions of Americans will get tax deductions or refunds on their unemployment benefits payments.

Walmart

US jobs growth beats expectations

The jobs improvement came amid falling new covid-19 cases, quickening vaccination rates and additional pandemic relief money from the government, putting the labor market recovery back on firmer footing and on course for further gains in the months ahead.

Nonfarm payrolls surged by 379,000 jobs last month, after rising 166,000 in January. In December, payrolls fell for the first time in eight months. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast February payrolls increasing by 182,000 jobs.

"This is a rather impressive nonfarm payroll report," said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at OANDA in New York.

"There's momentum in the labor market and what that’s doing is providing I think more optimism that the growth picture is looking even better."

Marathon fight to pass U.S. pandemic relief tests Democrats' majority

The battle to pass a covid-19 relief bill demonstrated how hard things will be for U.S. President Joe Biden's Democrats in Congress, facing opposition from right and left as they try to score big wins with small majorities.

A smiling Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer sang the praises of Democratic unity on Saturday after his chamber approved the $1.9 trillion coronavirus aid plan, one of the largest economic stimulus packages ever. He predicted it will be approved by the House of Representatives next week and quickly signed into law by Biden.

But a day earlier, the Senate was paralyzed for hours when just one Democrat bucked a proposal from his own party affecting unemployment benefits. Because no Republicans backed the bill in a Senate split 50-50, progress on the legislation stopped cold.

Democrats eventually found a solution that satisfied the senator, Joe Manchin of West Virginia. They stayed unified and swatted away a host of Republican amendments in an all-night session. The relief bill passed 50-49, with one Republican absent.

stocks

Shares, dollar celebrate U.S. stimulus

Asian shares rallied on Monday while the dollar held near three-month peaks after the U.S. Senate passage of a $1.9 trillion stimulus bill and a surprisingly strong payrolls report augured well for a global economic rebound.

There was also upbeat news in Asia, as China's exports surged 155% in February compared with a year earlier when much of the economy shut down to fight the coronavirus.

BofA analyst Athanasios Vamvakidis argued the potent mix of U.S. stimulus, faster reopening and greater consumer firepower was a clear positive for the dollar, and a drag for bonds.

"Including the current proposed stimulus package and further upside from a second-half infrastructure bill, total U.S. fiscal support is six times greater than the EU recovery fund," he said. "The Fed is also supportive with U.S. money supply growing two times faster than the Eurozone."

New unemployment benefits 2021: who will get extra payments from the stimulus bill?

The American Rescue Plan includes a healthy extension to federal jobless support, with benefits programmes for unemployed, self-employed and gig workers.

Third stimulus check: who voted for and against in the Senate?

The American Rescue Plan narrowly passed the Senate and now heads to the House of Representatives, but which Senators actually voted for the $1.9 trillion bill?

Hello and a very warm welcome to our live coverage of the coronavirus relief bill progress and a proposed third round of stimulus checks.

On Saturday (6 Match) the Senate passed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan with with a narrow 50-49 vote. The bill must now go back to the House before it is ready for President Joe Biden to sign.

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