Third stimulus check news summary: 18 March 2021
Third stimulus check live updates
- TurboTax and H&R Block users report stimulus check delays
- IRS announces that 90 million stimulus checks have already been distributed (read more)
- FTC warns to beware of stimulus check phishing scams
- Stimulus funds released by major US banks like Wells Fargo and Chase on Wednesday
- President Biden pledges to reach 100 million stimulus check payments within 10 days (read more)
- Research suggests that 58% of stimulus check money will be spent on food
- IRS confirmed that millions have already received new child tax credit
- Biden and VP Harris begin "Help is Here Tour" to mark passage of stimulus bill
- Nearly 160 million US households will receive $400 billion in direct payments of $1,400 per person
- The $1,400 stimulus checks will be sent to individuals earning up to $75,000 and married couples earning up to $150,000 (read more)
- You can track the status of your payment using the IRS Get My Payment Tool
- US covid-19 cases/deaths: 29.66 million/539,321 (live updates)
Further related reading:
How to spot, avoid and report fake stimulus check scams
In a fake stimulus check scam, a person you don’t know asks you to deposit a check, sometimes for several thousand dollars, and usually for more than you are owed, and to send some of the money to another person. The scammers always have a good story to explain why you can’t keep all the money. They might say they need you to cover taxes or fees, you’ll need to buy supplies, or something else...
Fake checks come in many forms. They might look like business or personal checks, cashier’s checks, money orders, or a check delivered electronically.
If you think you’ve been targeted by a fake check scam, you can report it to the Federal Trade Commission, the US Postal Inspection Service or your state Attorney General.
False claims of $25 million bonus for Relief Bill lawmakers
Recent posts on Facebook which claimed that Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan includes a $25 million bonus for members of the House of Representatives have been passed off as false and fake news, . There is no mention of bonuses for lawmakers anywhere in the 628-page bill. "This claim is false. There is no funding in the bill for either the House or the Senate," Evan Hollander, spokesman for the House Committee on Appropriations, told AFP.
Makes no sense to return stimulus money - DeSantis
Florida gov. Ron DeSantis rejected Sen. Rick Scott’s proposal to return money from the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package. Florida is set to receive up to $10 billion as part of Biden's American Rescue Plan. Scott accused authorities of treating the relief package like "a slush fund” and urged them to return any money not spent directly on Covid-related expenses to Washington.
DeSantis disagrees, “It doesn’t make any sense. If Florida were to send the money back, [Treasury Secretary Janet] Yellen is going to send it to Illinois, California, New York or New Jersey. I don’t think that would make sense for Floridians — for us to be giving even more money to the blue states that already getting such a big windfall in this bill."
Biden looks ahead to Covid-19 vaccination rollout landmark
President Joe Biden addressed the nation in a brief message as the US is about to reach 100 million people vaccinated against Covid-19 with at least one dose. "Folk, tomorrow, we are going to hit a very important milestone that I promised - 100 million shots of vaccine in people's arms. So when you get your opportunity, get the vaccine, get the shot. It's critically important".
How does third stimulus check differ from previous two?
The latest round of stimulus checks under the American Rescue Plan provide more money to individuals and dependents than their predecessors.
(Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP)
"IRS TREAS 310 - TAX EIP3" - the payment reference to look out for
Direct-deposit recipients' stimulus checks are appearing in their bank accounts labeled "IRS TREAS 310 - TAXEIP3".
(Photo: Lee Jae Won/Reuters)
Unemployment benefits tax waiver: how to claim
As part of the $1.9tn coronavirus stimulus bill signed into law this month, qualifying Americans will get a tax break on the first $10,200 of unemployment benefits they received in 2020.
Full details above.
Eligibility changes will see millions miss out on stimulus checks
The American Rescue Plan provides a new round of direct payments, but negotiations in Congress changed the eligibility requirements and lowered income thresholds.
Full details above.
IRS will "automatically issue refunds" to Americans who missed out on benefits tax break
IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig says the body will automatically refund eligible Americans who missed out on a tax break on unemployment benefits because they submitted their 2020 tax returns before the scheme was announced.
As part of President Biden's $1.9tn coronavirus stimulus bill, people who earned under $150,000 in 2020 will not face federal income taxes on the first $10,200 of unemployment benefits paid to them over the course of the year.
Americans can claim this tax waiver in their tax return for 2020, but many had already submitted theirs before Biden signed the relief bill into law on 11 March.
"Do not file an amended return at this time," Rettig said on Thursday, per Bloomberg. "We believe that we will be able to handle this on our own. We believe that we will be able to automatically issue refunds associated with the $10,200."
How homeless people can claim their stimulus check
This article by MarketWatch provides useful information on how homeless Americans without a fixed address or a bank account can still get their $1,400 stimulus check as part of President Biden's $1.9tn coronavirus relief package:
Stimulus check and child tax credit: can I get both?
Yes, you can. For eligible families with children, the direct-payment and child-tax-credit schemes in President Biden’s $1.9tn coronavirus relief bill, which was signed into law on 11 March, offer significant financial aid: put together, they provide a potential $5,000 per child, in addition to parents’ own stimulus check.
Full details above.
How to cash a third stimulus check without a bank account
Millions of Americans don’t have a bank account and are expecting a $1,400 stimulus check. If you are one, here are some options to cash your check.
Full details above.
In this file photo taken on 10 March, volunteers prepare food for distribution to the poor, inside of a church in the South Bronx in New York City. New applications for unemployment benefits in the US remained high one year into the covid-19 pandemic, government data said on Thursday, even as the country rolls out vaccines and the economy gets another round of stimulus.
The Labor Department reported 770,000 new seasonally adjusted claims for jobless benefits were made in the week ended 13 March, an increase of 45,000 from the previous week's upwardly revised level.
(Photo: SPENCER PLATT / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP)
How to claim your missing stimulus check
Millions of people failed to received either or both of the first and second stimulus checks, despite being eligible. If you were one of them, don’t despair. When you file your tax return you can claim yours.
Full details above.
Could you receive more than $1,400 in your stimulus check payment?
The American Rescue Plan provided direct payments worth up to $1,400 for each eligible person, but the structure of those payments has seen some receive far more in their stimulus check payment.
With adult dependents now involved in the programme, joint payments for both members of a married couple and retroactive payments for babies born in 2020 there are plenty of ways to up your entitlement.
Read more above.
Stimulus bill hoped to rebuild the US jobs market
The Chair of the Federal Reserve has given a bleak outlook on the future of the US jobs market, coming as the Department of Labor announced that unemployment benefits claims had risen by around 45,000 on last week's total.
The $1.9 trillion stimulus bill not only provides short term economic relief in the form of stimulus checks and extended benefits, but looks to invest in infrastructure to stimulate economic growth.
Speaking at the launch of the American Rescue Plan back in Janaury, Biden said he wanted to kickstart the economy "by investing in America, creating millions of additional good-paying jobs."
Stimulus check "kept the lights on" for cancer survivor
Nikki Martin has told CNN about the relief she felt when the $1,400 stimulus check landed in her account this week, providing much-needed financial support at a time when she was struggling financially. She was not eligible to receive unemployment benefits while awaiting disabled benefits, so this payment was vital.
The clip, shared by the Democrats' War Room, gives a bit of insight into how the direct payments are being received and why Biden was so eager to begin distribution as soon as possible.
Who qualifies for the third stimulus check?
The $1,400 direct payments were first announced in January but Congressional wrangling meant it took two months for the American Rescue Plan to be signed into law.
But despite initially hoping to open up the eligibility requirements to get the payments to more people than before, Biden faced opposition in the Senate and was forced to compromise on the package. Income thresholds were altered in a bid to ensure that the stimulus check payments are more targeted to those in need.
We take a look at a few of the groups who will not be eligible to receive the third stimulus check.
IRS deadline extension only applies to income tax filings
It was announced yesterday that the IRS would be extending the deadline for 2020 tax returns until 17 May, giving filers an extra month to complete their returns. However this extension is specifically related to income tax filings, and the original deadline of 15 April still applies for estimated tax payments.
The deadline was pushed back both to allow filers extra time to get their finances in order after a chaotic year, but also to allow the tax authorities to expedite the distribution of the third stimulus checks which were finally approved last week.
Biden praised for stimulus check and vaccine rollout
Support for Biden's American Resuce Plan has come from an unsuspected place as Stella Parton, country singer and sister of Dolly, praises the stimulus bill for getting direct payments and vaccinations out to those in need.
In the last week the White House has been pushing the phrase 'shots in arms and money in pockets', as the two key priorities in the fight against covid-19. Around 90 million of the $1,400 stimulus check have already gone out, and the US stands to beat Biden's target of 100 million vaccines in 100 days, by at least a month.
Stimulus check: What is an ACH Credit from the IRS?
The IRS has already sent out around 90 million stimulus check payments, with the vast majority of them coming through direct deposit automatically into recipients’ bank accounts.
For most people the stimulus checks will arrive in their accounts automatically, with no additional action required. This method of payment is known as an ACH transaction – ACH stands for Automated Clearing House, a computer-based electronic network for processing financial transactions. But what does this mean, and how will it affect the speed of stimulus check distribution?
Wells Fargo confirms customers will receive their stimulus check payments
The IRS warned financial institutions that they were intending to process a wave of 90 million stimulus checks on Wednesday but nonetheless some banks were unable to cope with the sudden influx. Customers of Wells Fargo reported issues with both the website and mobile app yesterday as they looked to check their accounts to see if the $1,400 had landed.
In a tweet the banks confirmed that they were aware of the problem, but announced that the payments had successfully gone into customers' accounts. In a subsequent tweet they confirmed that their online banking platforms were now working again and customers should be able to check their balances.
Watch out for stimulus check fraudsters
The IRS has again warned stimulus check recipients to be careful of scammers looking to take the $1,400 direct payments. They have uncovered a scam that sees fraudsters pretend to be from the tax authorities and instruct their victims to purchase gift cards, which the thieves take themselves.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warns: "You don't need to pay anyone to get your money. Anyone who tells you to pay a fee to get your economic impact payment is a scammer."
Stimulus checks arrive as US unemployment rises
New data from the Labor Department suggests that new applications for unemployment insurance totaled 770,000 last week, a 45,000 increase on the previous week's total. The news comes as the US marks one year since the start of the pandemic-caused recession.
Despite some promising signs from the economy in recent weeks it is clear that the picture is still bleak and the new stimulus bill is designed to support those who have been worse hit. Aside from the $1,400 stimulus checks, the bill provides funding for an extension of unemployment benefits through September.
Delays expected for stimulus check distribution
The IRS have already sent the first 90 million stimulus check payments out to eligible Americans, with an estimated $242.2 billion distributed. President Joe Biden looks to get the support out to those in need as quickly as possible but it appears there could be delays for some.
While millions will have already received the direct support, that does not mean that the process will be without any delays and changes to the eligibility requirements for dependents could affect how much you get in the stimulus check.
IRS extends tax return deadline by one month
After receiving pressure from accountancy groups and personal finance experts for weeks, the IRS has decided to extend the tax filing deadline by a month. The new date will be 17 May, by which time all federal income tax returns must be filed with the tax authority.
The move comes as the IRS races to distribute the third stimulus checks as swiftly as possible and it is hoped that this extension will help them get the direct payments out quickly. Changes to the unemployment benefits tax situation have also added another complication for tax filers and the extra month should give plenty of time to iron out any issues.
Charities look to support homeless people with receipt of stimulus checks
The $1,400 direct payments have already been sent to around 90 million Americans but there is one group that is expected to find it particularly difficult to get the vital support.
The economic consequences of the pandemic has left millions struggling to cover essential expenses like accomodation, and the growing number of homeless people will likely find it more difficult than most to get their stimulus check.
One charity, Invisible People, said of the potential problems that homeless people face: "Between filing taxes, finding a stable address, and waiting for the funds to land in a bank account or mailbox, people experiencing homelessness often face unnecessary delays in receiving their stimulus payments."
Stimulus check delays for some TurboTax and H&R Block users
Not for the first time, some who utilised tax preparation services have reported that their stimulus check payments were sent to an incorrect bank account. In the past it was thought that the money had been incorrectly sent to a bank account created solely for tax return purposes, which the recipient has no access to.
Many said that they updated their account information with TurboTax after similar issues arose with the last stimulus payment, but there appears to be similar issues now.
A TurboTax spokesperson said the account issue is affecting a “small group” of customers who updated their banking information directly with TurboTax during distribution of the second stimulus check, adding: “We’ve reached out directly to these customers with information about their stimulus payment."
Stimulus check investments could cause another boost for asset prices.
Entrepreneur Anthony Scaramucci says that the sitmulus bill could actually lead to an increase in asset prices, with wages unlikely to catch up the new levels. Even the $600 stimulus checks from Janaury were named as a key factor in the staggering rise of so-called 'meme stocks' like GameStop.
For investors looking to make the most of their $1,400 payments, Scaramucci suggests that Bitcoin could actually be a relatively safe bet in the long term. The likes of Morgan Stanley are looking to pick up more of the cryptocurrency as a counter balance against the general trend of governments increasing the total market cap of traditional currencies.
Over 50% of Americans have seen income drop during the pandemic
More than half of Americans saw their income drop during the past year while a lucky 16% of the population earned more, according to the results of a poll conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago.
53% of American households have experienced income loss since March 2020 due to being laid-off, having a wage or salary reduced, working fewer hours, having unpaid time off, or quitting a job. Sixty percent of Hispanic Americans say someone in their household has experienced employment changes, along with 51% of Black Americans. This is compared to 42% of white Americans.
68% have been able to reduce their spending, pay down debt, or save more because of the pandemic.
Some stimulus checks going to wrong bank accounts
While most of the $1,400 stimulus payments have been transferred to bank accounts without any problems, some have gone astray or been rejected. The IRS stress that this could happen if the bank information was invalid or the bank account has been closed although in some cases, even updated bank account details hasn't stopped payments not reaching their destination.
The IRS adds: "You cannot change your bank information which is already on file with the IRS for your first or second Economic Impact Payment". If your payment can’t be delivered to you for any reason, it will be returned to the IRS. To get your payment reissued, you will need to set up direct deposit with the Get My Payment tool. After your payment is returned to the IRS, your payment status will update to “Need More Information.” You can then choose direct deposit to a bank account, a prepaid debit card (must be re-loadable; contact the card issuer for information) or alternative financial products that have a routing and account number associated with them.
Tax deadline extended by one month
The IRS has pushed back the 2020 tax filing deadline but even so, advises taxpayers not to delay and warns that state tax filings remain the same.
There are a few reasons why you may not have received a second stimulus check payment yet, but that does not necessarily mean you can’t get the third payment.
Immigrants without SSN are not eligible for stimulus check
While around 160 million Americans will receive a stimulus check of $1,400 or under, not everyone is eligible. Those classed as a "nonresident alien individual" will be excluded from receiving economic aid in Biden's $1.9 trillion relief bill. That includes any individual who is not a US citizen or US national. A nonresident alien is an alien who has not passed the green card test or the substantial presence test and is not in possession of a Social Security Number (SSN). Only noncitizens who have been authorized to work by the Department of Homeland Security can get a Social Security number
The first wave of $1,400 direct deposits have arrived less than a week after President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan into law last Thursday.
Fed forecasts US economy to grow 6.5% after stimulus aid
The US economy is set to grow by 6.5% this year according to a report by the Federal Reserve. It is a more bullish outlook from the central bank, who had predicted the economy to grow by 4.2% at the end of last year but Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan which includes $1,400 stimulus checks for almost 160 million tax-paying Americans has sparked new optimism. The interest rate remains unchanged at 0% and the Fed isn't expecting it to rise until 2023 at the earliest.
90 million Americans have now received their stimulus checks
The Internal Revenue Service confirmed on Wednesday that it has sent out over 90 million stimulus checks in the most recent round of relief payments (over $242 billion in aid) - part of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. The first batch of payments were mostly sent by direct deposit, to eligible taxpayers who provided personal bank account information on their 2019 or 2020 returns.
The IRS added that Treasury Department also has mailed 150,000 paper checks worth more than $442 million to those who couldn't receive the money by direct deposit.
Additional batches and payments will be sent in the coming weeks by direct deposit and through the mail as a paper check or EIP debit card. The vast majority of all Economic Impact Payments will be issued by direct deposit.
Wells Fargo customers experienced issues when checking their accounts online on Wednesday morning just as $1,400 stimulus payments were becoming available.
Mark Cuban's advice on what stimulus checks should be spent on
The billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban is in no doubt about what Americans should do with their $1,400 stimulus checks. If you don't need the extra cash for essentials, then put it towards paying off any debts, or save it for a rainy day, he told CNBC's Make It. “Pay off credit cards but if you find yourself with any money left over, put it in the bank," was Cuban's advice.
FTC warn of new stimulus check phishing scam
The Federal Trade Commission has warned against responding to texts, emails or calls, pretending to be from official organisations or the government concerning stimulus checks as they could be phishing scams.
The FTC has set out guidelines to help you tell the difference between a real contact tracer and a scammer. Legitimate tracers need health information, not money or personal financial information.
Be wary of emails claiming to be from the CDC or WHO. Use sites like coronavirus.gov and usa.gov/coronavirus to get the latest information. And don’t click on links from sources you don’t know.
Do your homework when it comes to donations. Never donate in cash, by gift card, or by wiring money.
Stimulus check live updates: welcome
Good morning as we begin our live blog on Thursday 18 March 2021.
We will be bringing you all the latest stimulus bill news throughout the day with major US banks receiving stimulus funds to deposit directly into customers' accounts as of yesterday morning.
Stay with us for everything you need to know, including reactions and opinions to the developing situation.