Third stimulus check news summary: 19 March 2021
Stimulus relief bill updates - 19 March
Stimulus funds: Reich points to richest getting richer
American billionaires continued their alternative experience of the coronavirus crisis as their total wealth shot past $4.2 trillion in February—up $1.3 trillion, or 44%, since the pandemic recession began 11 months ago.
Billionaires reaped their bonanza even as over 25 million ordinary Americans fell ill from covid-19 and half a million died from it, while tens of millions struggled to find work, keep their homes and feed their families.
Biden and Harris shift focus of Georgia trip after Atlanta shooting
President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were planning to promote the newly enacted $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package when they visited Georgia on Friday, but a deadly shooting in the state has changed their plans.
A 21-year-old man has been charged with murdering eight people, including six women of Asian descent, at three spas in and around Atlanta on Tuesday, rattling Asian Americans already grappling with a rise in hate crimes directed at them since the covid-19 pandemic began.
Biden and Harris will meet community leaders and state lawmakers from the Asian-American and Pacific Islander community to hear concerns about the killings and discuss a rise in anti-Asian hate crimes, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.
Investigators said the suspect, an Atlanta-area resident who is white, suggested that sexual frustration led him to commit violence. Numerous political leaders and civil rights advocates have speculated the killings were motivated at least in part by rising anti-Asian sentiment.
Biden has also directed White House officials Cedric Richmond and Susan Rice to engage with the community, Psaki said, and supports recent legislation calling for an expanded Justice Department review of covid-19-related hate crimes.
Given recent events, "the president and the vice president felt it was important to change the trip a little bit and offer their support and condemn the violence," a White House official said.
Biden ordered the US flag flown at half-staff at the White House to honor the victims of Tuesday's shootings.
On Friday, US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said acts of violence against the community were exacerbated by language used by the Trump administration. The House floor observed a moment of silence on Friday in honor of those killed in Georgia.
Photo: REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Biden "doing fine" after stumbling while boarding Air Force One
US President Joe Biden is doing fine after stumbling on the steps as he climbed aboard Air Force One on Friday, White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters.
She suggested high winds at Joint Base Andrews near Washington may have been a factor. "It's very windy outside," said Jean-Pierre when asked about his stumbling. "He is doing 100 percent fine."
Photo: ERIC BARADAT / AFP
IMF economist sees only 'transitory' bump in inflation from US stimulus
President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion US stimulus plan could trigger a temporary bump in consumer prices, but inflation was not likely to last long, International Monetary Fund Chief Economist Gita Gopinath said in an interview broadcast on Friday.
Gopinath told National Public Radio that the US Federal Reserve had tools to address inflation if the increase in prices endured, but cautioned that a quick increase in interest rates could be "quite disorderly."
Gopinath said she agreed with US Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell that a surge in inflation to 2.4% this year, above the central bank's 2% target, would be a "one-time" bump in prices that would not change inflation going forward.
"You're likely to see a transitory bump in inflation, but it's not going to last," Gopinath said, citing what she described as slack in the US labor market, the decreased sensitivity of inflation to slack in the market, and widespread expectations that inflation would be close to 2%.
IMF officials have warned that central banks needed to stay vigilant against a sudden spike in rates.
Photo: REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
Wells Fargo gives stimulus check update
Having come under fire last weekend for not releasing stimulus checks to customers who received them before the 17 March, Wells Fargo has offered its latest update on Twitter.
"We know the importance of the stimulus funds to our customers, and Wells Fargo is making the stimulus funds available immediately when they are made available to us. The U.S. Treasury has indicated payments will be distributed in multiple phases."
Cash your check remotely with PayPal
PayPal & Venmo customers can cash their third round of government-issued paper stimulus checks remotely, usually within minutes, free-of-charge using the PayPal & Venmo Cash a Check feature.
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Investors pumped record $56.8 billion into stock-market funds as stimulus checks arrived
Stock-market investors poured a record amount of money into U.S. equity mutual funds and exchange-traded funds in the past week as the Dow Jones Industrial Average topped another milestone and the S&P 500 index also touched a record.
Experts say a lot of this has to do with the arrival of stimulus checks.
On Wednesday it was confirmed that roughly 90 million stimulus check direct deposits had been made, worth a total of $242 billion. The money has left the treasury but high street banks like Fargo Wells are reporting issues with their online banking, meaning that customers are unable to check if the payment has landed.
Luckily, the IRS “Get My Payment” tool will let you know the status of your stimulus check.
NYT makes first mention of "stimmy" amid third stimulus check distribution
A Twitter account that notes the first time a word is mentioned in the New York Times has thrown up a real sign of the times: "Stimmy".
The account, New New York Times, shows how language changes over time and in this instance shows how those waiting for news on the stimulus check have created a nickname for the direct payment. Recent additions to the New York Times' dictionary include 'plantstagram', 'ploinks' and 'politirati'.
Child Tax Credit: when will refunds be issued for 2020 tax returns?
The IRS have confirmed that they have already started distributing refunds on tax returns for millions of Americans, which will include the Child Tax Credit for tax year 2020.
IRS extends tax-filing deadline for Louisiana residents
The tax authority announced earlier this week that they are extending the federal tax return deadline to 17 May nationally, having already pushed back the Texas deadline to 15 June. They pushed back the Texas deadline to allow residents recovering from the shocking winter storms in February to recover, and have just announced that they are now doing the same for Louisiana.
Who will receive the adult dependent stimulus checks?
One of the biggest changes between the $1,400 stimulus checks, aside from the size, was the expansion of eligibility to include adult dependents for the first time. This means that college students, elderly relatives and disabled Americans claimed as dependents on tax filings will be able to get a stimulus check.
However the additional payment will not be sent to them directly, instead going to whoever submitted the tax return. This has seen many receive stimulus checks worth far more than the $1,400 publicised.
Tax-filing deadline extended in Connecticut
Following the announcement earlier this week that the IRS would be extending the deadline for federal tax returns to 17 May, a number of states have done the same with their own state tax deadlines.
The latest to follow suit is Connecticut, when Governor Ned Lamont said the move: "aligns the state with the recent announcement". This comes after Illinois and California did the same, with others expected to follow.
The news should give filers more time to sort out their financial situation after a year that saw the government provide additional unemployment benefits and stimulus checks, which could complicate tax returns.
VP Harris: "Help is here" with third stimulus checks
The President and Vice President are currently on a whistle-stop tour of the US as they look to promote the benefits of the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill that was signed into law last week. On her Twitter account, VP Harris is extolling the virtues of the new stimulus checks which began distribution last week, offering up to $1,400 for eligible Americans.
The American public is broadly on-board with the American Rescue Plan, with a recent poll suggesting around 72% support the package, but Biden is eager to press home the importance of the huge amount of federal spending.
Americans could wait months for tax filing refunds
IRS chief Charles Rettig has announced that he believes it may not be until summer that the tax authority has worked through the backlog of tax returns to issue refunds for those who claimed rebates.
"We would hope to be through this backlog by the summer," Rettig told House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Bill Pascrell, with around 12 million returns are trapped in the IRS logjam. "I will tell you, my employees will work as hard as we can possibly work."
Included in the refunds are Recovery Rebate Credits, the tax refunds issued for Americans who have missed out on previous rounds of stimulus check payments.
Two of the most anticipated parts of the American Rescue Plan are the third stimulus check and the extended unemployment benefits, both of which contribute hundreds of billions of dollars in direct support.
Both have been a feature of previous stimulus bills but who qualifies for the payments is based on your most recent tax filings. We take a look at how your 2021 returns will affect how much you get, and whether you can receive the stimulus check and jobless benefits at the same time.
No stimulus check protections against debt collectors
In a break from the two previous rounds of stimulus checks, the $1,400 direct payments being distributed at the moment will not be protected from debt collectors. The Democrats had wanted to add legislation that would prevent stimulus check money being teken to repay debts, but Sen. Pat Toomey's objection was enough to derail the proposal.
Crypto boom expected after stimulus check influx
A new study published by Harris Insights has found that many stimulus check recipients are planning to spend at least some of their $1,400 direct payment on cryptocurrencies. Their findings suggest that around $40 billion of the $380 billion provided by the American Rescue Plan could go toward bitcoin and stocks.
The report found: "About 15% of Americans who received the last two stimulus checks invested part or all of the money from those checks, and about half of this group invested specifically in cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ethereum."
Child tax credits could provide more support than stimulus checks
Despite attempts by a group of more than 50 progressive Democrats in Congress, the hopes of recurring stimulus checks were never realised and a single $1,400 direct payment was offered instead.
However millions of families will receive monthly payments from the federal government, coming in the form of child tax credits. The programme was first introduced in 1976 but the American Rescue Plan expands the provision considerably to give a monthly payment of up to $300 per child. For many, this will provide lasting financial relief that far outweighs the third stimulus check.
90 million stimulus checks out the door
The IRS confirmed that they were able to distribute the first 90 million stimulus checks via direct deposit earlier this week, with the payments set to land in bank accounts on Wednesday morning.
However some have experienced issues with their online banking portals, which have prevented them from checking that the $1,400 has arrived. High street banks like Wells Fargo have reported problems with both their website and mobile app due to the high levels of traffic.
Support for the homeless through stimulus checks and housing vouchers
Biden pledged to support the vulnerable when he first introduced his American Rescue Plan and the official White House Twitter account has publicised some of the ways that the stimulus bill tackles housing insecurity.
The bill provides around $5 billion in emergency housing vouchers which is hoped to help get people off the streets, particularly following the extreme weather conditions experienced in parts of the US this winter.
The $1,400 stimulus checks will also be available for homeless Americans, with a new process that should make it easier to get the direct payments out. If you or someone you know needs any help with applying for stimulus checks, this Homeless American Stimulus Check Guide should help.
Will you be spending your stimulus check on Bitcoin?
For many the stimulus check will be a vital source of economic support during tough times, but some are intending to use at least some of the $1,400 to invest. Studies suggest that the second round of stimulus checks that was sent out in early 2021 was responsible for a rise in Bitcoin price and that could be the same once again.
A recently published Harris Poll suggested that around 1 in 10 Americans would consider using stimulus checks to invest in cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ethereum.
States are pushing back tax-filing deadlines to match new federal date
Earlier this week the IRS announced that they would be extending the federal income tax-filing deadline by a month, giving Americans until 17 May to get their returns in. The reasoning was that the extra time would allow individuals to get their finances together after a confusing 12 months, and allow the IRS to complete distribution of the third stimulus check.
That extension only applied to federal income taxes but states are now following suit, with Illinois Governor JB Pritzker announcing that his state has extended the individual income tax filing deadline from April 15 to May 17. There is no change to how the state processes taxes filed before the deadline.
Toomey blocks stimulus check protections
On Thursday Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) proposed legislation to the Senate which would prevent debt collectors from seizing stimulus check payments to pay back outstanding debts. The measure was included in previous stimulus bills but Republicans prevented its inclusion in the American Rescue Plan.
In response to the proposal Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) blocked the legislation and argued that: "I don't think it's unreasonable to ask people to pay their bills."
Over 90 million Americans have received their $1,400 stimulus payments, the majority through direct deposit with the money transferred directly into their bank account. On your bank statement, you make see the initials 'ACH'. This is what it means.
Biden and Harris to promote Relief Bill in Georgia
President Joe Biden and vicepresident Kamala Harris will visit Georgia later today as part of the "Help is Here" tour. Some of the original plans have been postponed in the wake of a shooting incident in Atlanta on Tuesday in which eight people, mostly women of Asian descent, were shot and killed by a lone gunman.
President Biden's $1.9tn coronavirus relief bill includes significant economic-aid measures for US families with children.
More information here:
Six women on how they plan to spend their stimulus checks
Six women spoke to The Cut to explain what they are planning to do with their stimulus checks, six different ways of using the funds to make their lives a little easier.
The IRS have now made over 90 million direct payments, and some are reporting that they have received more than they expected in their stimulus check.
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."
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.
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 included 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.
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.
Stimulus check live updates: welcome
Good morning as we begin our live blog on Friday 19 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 from Wednesday morning.
Stay with us for everything you need to know, including reactions and opinions to the developing situation.