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Third stimulus check news summary: 25 March 2021

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Third stimulus check updates: is there a fourth payment coming? | Tracker & child tax credit | Live

Stimulus check live updates

Headlines:

- IRS confirms that 127 million stimulus checks had been issued as of Wednesday 24 March

- Reports that Biden will pursue more progressive agenda in future stimulus talks

- Treasury Secretary Yellen predicts return to full employment in US in 2022

- In total, nearly 160 million households in the US to get check of up to $1,400 per person (who qualifies?)

- Inspector General issues fresh warning over social security scams via phone and email

- IRS chief warns that child tax credit payments could be delayed (full details)

- $1.9tn relief bill also includes expanded child tax credit, enhanced unemployment benefits

- Biden signs proclamation marking National Equal Pay Day 2021 at White House ceremony with USWNT

- US president unveils new $3 trillion employment package (full story)

- You can track your stimulus check using the IRS Get My Payment Tool

- US covid-19 cases/deaths: 30.11 million/545,282 (live updates from Johns Hopkins University)

Related articles:

Bitesize Biden briefing

The president on Thursday gave his first formal solo news conference after assuming office in January, during which among other things he discussed running for re-election, the progress of the covid vaccine rollout, Afghanistan, North Korea and his predecessor Donald Trump.

Bloomberg took the highlights and condensed them into a three-minute video.

 

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American Rescue Plan is sowing signs of hope for economy

Joe Biden on Thursday said the economic outlook is brightening thanks to the recent passage of his $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package, and a majority of economists now expect growth this year to exceed six percent.

"Since we passed the American Rescue Plan, we're starting to see new signs of hope in our economy," Biden said during his first press conference since taking office in January. "Since it was passed, a majority ... of economic forecasters have significantly increased their projections on the economic growth that's going to take place this year. They're now projecting it will exceed 6% growth in GDP."

Indeed, that may understate how quickly the economy may grow this year as covid-19 vaccine rollouts gather pace, allowing greater freedom of movement and activity, and as the stimulus bill boosts consumer spending.

Just last week, Federal Reserve officials signaled they expect growth of 6.5% this year, which if achieved would mark the fastest expansion since the 1980s, and some private forecasters have predicted the economy will grow in excess of 7% this year. That would mark a dramatic upward swing following the 3.5% contraction suffered in 2020, the steepest annual downturn in more than seven decades.

Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP

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Weekly jobless claims fall; fourth-quarter growth revised up

Fewer than expected Americans filed new claims for unemployment benefits last week as economic activity rebounds after weather-related disruptions in February, but it would likely take years for the labor market to fully recover from the pandemic's scarring.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits totaled a seasonally adjusted 684,000 for the week ended March 20, down from 781,000 in the prior week, the Labor Department said on Thursday.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast 730,000 applications in the latest week.

Claims shot up in the second week of March, likely as backlogs after severe winter storms in Texas and other parts of the densely populated South region were processed.

The deep freeze in the second half of February, which also gripped other parts of the country, depressed retail sales, homebuilding, production at factories, orders and shipments of manufactured goods last month.

Warmer weather, the White House's $1.9 trillion covid-19 pandemic rescue package and increased vaccinations are expected to boost activity in March. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell struck an optimistic note on the economy at an appearance before lawmakers this week.

"It is going to be a very, very strong year in the most likely case," Powell said in response to a senator's question on the economic outlook.

Photo by SPENCER PLATT / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

SSA provides info to process 30 million stimulus checks

After previously delaying the process, it is being reported that the Social Security Administration has now provided the information required for the IRS to initiate stimulus check payments for an estimated 30 million Social Security recipients. 

In recent days the House Ways and Means Committee had called on the SSA to expediate the details that were preventing millions from getting their $1,400 payments. The fact that SS recipients are typically in greater need of financial support made the delay even more agonising. This does not mean that the payments will be made immediately, but should remove the barrier that had seen them denied the support until now. 

You don't need to include stimulus checks on tax returns

Anyone who is still yet to file their returns for tax year 2020 will not need to include any stimulus check payments that they may have received, as the direct support does not qualify as taxable income. Despite being a form of income the stimulus checks are technically an advanced tax rebate so it would not make sense for the IRS to demand recipients pay tax on them. 

AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN

What's the maximum families can get with the third stimulus check, Child Tax Credit and unemployment benefits?

The American Rescue Plan includes hundreds of billions of dollars in direct support that will be going straight into the pockets of families across the country. Aside from the third stimulus check, there is a complete overhaul of the Child Tax Credit programme and an extension to the existing unemployment benefits provision. 

There is nothing preventing people receiving all three of these vital sources of federal support, so we take a look at the maximum amount that a typical family is able to claim. Some is in the form of a one-off payment and some comes as weekly or monthly direct deposits, but there is thousands of dollars of support on offer. 

Read more

Michelle Singletary on how to maximise your third stimulus check

As the $1,400 direct payments continue to land in pockets, personal finance expert Michelle Singletary takes a look at how to make the most of your stimulus check. 

CORONAVIRUS STIMULUS CHECK

Third stimulus check: how to check its status with the IRS Get My Payment tool

Want to check on the status of your incoming stimulus check? The IRS Get My Payment tracker is a handy online tool that will give you all the information you need on the ongoing payment distribution. 

The IRS confirmed yesterday that they have already sent around 127 million payments out, the vast majority of which were direct deposits into bank accounts. From now on they will be focusing on the physical stimulus checks and Economic Impact Payment debit cards, which take a bit longer to produce and send out. 

Read more

SSA agree to remove stimulus check barriers

After days of very public campaigning on the past of Rep. Bill Pascrell and other lawmakers, the Social Security Administration appear to have stood down on the dispute over stimulus check payments. It has been reported that many Social Security recipients were being denied access to their stimulus checks due to administrative issues within the SSA and IRS. 

Child Tax Credit should address pandemic's economic damage

Democrats are talking up the benefits of the American Rescue Plan, which they hope will make a real difference for childcare providers. The number of women in work has fallen to its lowest level since 1988 over the course of the pandemic with working mothers increasingly burdened with childcare responsibilities. 

They hope that the new Child Tax Credit will provide the funding needed to give more options to working women, and allow them to stay in employment if they wish. The White House has said that the Child Tax Credit and other programmes will particularly benefit women of colour who have been worst hit by the economic fall out of the pandemic. 

Biden likely to push for more progressive agenda in future stimulus efforts

Following his White House address earlier today, reports suggest that President Biden is eyeing a more progressive set of legislative priorities than previously thought. MSNBC producer Kyle Griffin says simply: "Biden is going big"

Earlier this week there were reports that the White House believe public opinion is with them, sparking talk of a new stimulus bill in the future. A number of Dem lawmakers have already raised the prospect of a fourth stimulus check, which many want to feature recurring payments. 

Democrats call for answers on stimulus check delay 

Several Democrats, including Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.) have signed a letter to Social Security Commissioner Andrew Saul, demanding to know why millions of Social Security recipients are still yet to receive their third stimulus check.

The IRS confrimed yesterday that they have sent out over 127 million payments but administrative errors appear to have delayed payment for one group. Both Saul and IRS chief Charles Rettig are Trump appointees, and a number of Dem lawmakers have called on Biden to fire them unless the situation improves. 

CORONAVIRUS STIMULUS CHECKS

Third stimulus check: what are the reasons for the delay in the payments?

On Tuesday President Joe Biden announced that the United States had surpassed 100 million stimulus check payments. The second wave of $1,400 direct deposit payments hit bank accounts on 24 March, with the remaining payments sent out as a physical check or debit card.

In the first wave of payments however, some were surprised to see that they didn’t receive the full amount that they were expecting to receive. Even though the IRS told them that they were sent the full amount, what appeared in their bank account came up short.

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How to get stimulus checks to homeless Americans

One of the great tragedies of the pandemic has been the number of people who have lost both their livelihoods and their homes as a result. For many homeless people it can be particularly difficult to get federal support because they often require a fixed address or online access. 

But it is still possible to claim the $1,400 stimulus check payment in other ways, and Rep Cori Bush outlines the best way to get the support to those in need. Simply click on the above tweet to read her Twitter thread on the topic. 

Stimulus checks and Child Tax Credit will help fight childhood poverty

Here's how the $1.9 trillion of federal spending in the American Rescue Plan will help make a real difference for the millions of Americans who have had their finances hit by the pandemic. Much of the spending focuses on the short-term needs, offering direct support in the form of stimulus checks, unemployment benefits and an expanded Child Tax Credit programme. 

Earlier this week there were reports suggesting that the recent stimulus bill represented the first half of a two-part plan to overhaul the American economy. After this round of direct support, Biden is apparently lining up a dramatic agenda that would look to build more sustainable jobs and a more skilled workforce. 

American Rescue Plan will boost prospects for women and minorities

Sen Sherrod Brown and Amy Matsui of the National Women’s Law Center have praised the positive impact that they expect the new stimulus bill to have for women of colour, who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. 

The introduction of the revised Child Tax Credit in particular should ease the burden on working families who are struggling to make ends meet. Recent data suggests that as many as one in seven American children have experienced food poverty during the pandemic, but Biden hopes that the federal stimulus spending could cut that number in half. 

SSA sends social Security beneficiaries payment info to the IRS 

On Wednesday the House Ways and Means committee has sent the Social Security Administration Commissioner Andrew Saul a letter demanding that the SSA send the IRS the information necessary for $1,400 stimulus checks to be distributed to 30 million Social Security and Supplemental Security Income recipients. The IRS had requested the information two weeks prior to the passing of the American Rescue Plan Act but the SSA had not followed through with the request until today.  

The agency was given 24 hours to meet the committee’s demand and has now done so. Now it will be up to the IRS to send out the payments to add to around 127 million payments worth approximately $325 billion. An estimated 160 million Americans in total are due to receive a direct payment worth up to $1,400 per person.

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How to prove a decrease in income to get third stimulus check

This year is like no other for the need to file a tax return, whether you do so religiously or you are a first-time filer. The $1.9 trillion covid-19 relief bill enacted in March provides struggling families with much needed aid through numerous programs.

One of the immediate effects of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) are the $1,400 Economic Impact Payment or stimulus checks, but there are mid-term and longer-term benefits in the law. ARPA enhances child tax credits for millions of families, part of which could start going out as direct payments in July through 31 December. The remainder of the child tax credit will be payable in 2022 when taxpayers file their returns, when they can also claim any money they missed in the third round of stimulus checks.  
 

Read how you can you show that you lost income in 2020.

Watch President Joe Biden take answers from the press

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IRS 'Get My Payment' tool provides stimulus check status and updates

Another 37 million stimulus checks were dispatched this week, taking the total to 127 million. Find out when your check will arrive and how much it will be.

Since the the first payments left the treasury just over a week ago, some high street banks such as Fargo Wells have reported issues with their online banking, meaning that customers are unable to check if the payment has landed.

If for some reason your stimulus payment has not arrived, the IRS “Get My Payment” tool will let you know the status of your stimulus check. Read how you can use it here.

30 million stimulus payments delayed due to Social Security hold-up

The Huffington Post reoprts millions of disabled and retired Americans are still waiting for their $1,400 stimulus payments because of a holdup at the Social Security Administration, House Democrats said Wednesday. 

Social Security hasn’t handed over payment information that the Internal Revenue Service needs to send the coronavirus relief checks to nearly 30 million people receiving retirement or disability benefits, Democrats said. 

“We understand that these beneficiaries are waiting because the Social Security Administration has not sent the necessary payment files to the Internal Revenue Service,” House Ways and Means Committee chair Richard Neal (D-Mass.) said in a letter to Social Security Commissioner Andrew Saul. 

Saul is a Donald Trump appointee whose term does not expire until 2025. Joe Biden has so far resisted calls to fire Saul despite calls from Democrats for his removal.

Previous stimulus bills increase existing disparities 

Of the 3.4 million farmers in the United States today, only 45,000 — 1.3 percent — are Black, according to the US Department of Agriculture. That’s down from 1 million a century ago, because of widespread land loss. However, under the previous covid-19 relief bills black farmers only saw 0.1 percent of the money spent to help farmers. The top 10 percent of farmers in the country received 60 percent of the value of the covid payments. And the bottom 10 percent received 0.26 percent. 

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has a Q&A with The Washington Post. 

Stimulus bills push personal income to record high 

An analysis from the US Bureau of Economic Analysis showed that US personal income rose 6.1% last year to $19.7 trillion on the back of covid-19 aid programs including stimulus checks and federal pandemic unemployment benefits. Growth in personal income outpaced gains in wages, property values and other sources of wealth.

Could Biden stimulus package succeed where his predecessors failed? 

Three consecutive presidents before President Joe Biden tried to for more than a decade to pull the US economy out of low growth, low inflation, and low investment. Will directing more stimulus and tax benefits to lower-income households and going big on infrastructure investment be able to bring about a new period of prosperity for the US economy?  

Read the full opinion of George Pearkes, who is the global macro strategist for Bespoke Investment Group, at Business Insider.

Biden to hold first formal news conference

Just over two months after taking office President Joe Biden will hold his first formal news conference. He would likely prefer to talk about the American Rescue Plan Act and all the benefits of the covid-19 relief bill including the enhanced child tax credit and the $1,400 stimulus checks.

However it can be expected that he will have to take pressing question on his border policy and the new push for stricter gun control after the two recent fatal mass shootings. The news conference will be at 1:15 pm EDT.

Filing a tax return could be critical this year 

Besides the $1,400 stimulus checks in the American Rescue Plan Act, there are tax provisions that could put a lot of money into the packets of Americans. In order to access those benefits of the new tax provisions, it will be necessary to file a 2020 tax return. The people who would benefit most from the provisions are normally people who don’t report their income to the IRS since they don’t make enough to be required to.  

The effort is on to make sure people who do not typically file taxes get all the money that’s earmarked for them and their children when they may need it most. Filing a 2020 tax return may be the last chance for many to access missed-out 2020 stimulus check money. The filing deadline is now 17 May, but people can file for extensions through 15 October. The IRS is scheduled to distribute periodic payments under the enhanced Child Tax Credit from 1 July to 31 December.

Tax filing extension may delay $1,400 stimulus checks and refunds 

The IRS has been fighting to catch up with a record backlog of tax returns to process. Almost 12 million paper returns from individuals and businesses were still being processed as of Christmas, according to a report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. The covid-19 pandemic hobbled the agency’s ability to receive, sort, distribute and process paper tax returns, much of that process isn’t conducive to telework. 

Now, $1,400 stimulus checks and insufficient staffing may hamper the tax agency’s ability to quickly address the backlog as this year’s tax season is underway. This may delay refunds and some $1,400 stimulus payments for individuals. The IRS paid out a record amount in interest on late refunds in 2020 of over $3 billion.

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What's the tax filing deadline state by state? 

Even with the end seeming to be near, the covid-19 pandemic is still playing havoc with people’s lives across the US and tax agencies around the nation are no different. Due to the myriad of tasks the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has been tasked with doing over the past year and going forward, the agency gave taxpayers an extension on filing their 2020 federal tax returns.  

The IRS has pushed back the tax filing deadline, most states synch their filing deadline with the federal deadline but not all. Find your state’s deadline

Child Tax Credit will strengthen family bonds 

Shawn Fremstad takes a look at the enhanced child tax credit in the American Rescue Plan Act and says that Republican are fear mongering about what it will do to other child support programs and even family unity.  

He writes “If anything, a well-designed, inclusive child allowance program, the kind that is normal in most other rich countries, would reduce the financial pressures that too often set struggling parents at odds. It would also make it easier to improve the current public child support system to work much better for struggling parents and strengthen family bonds, including cooperative bonds between co-parents who live apart, and emotional bonds between noncustodial parents and their children.”

Need help navigating the new covid-19 relief and stimulus checks? 

The residents of Chicago have a new resource at their disposal to get free help. The YMCA of Metro Chicago has launched a bilingual help desk to assist with problems individuals and families are encountering with the pandemic. The services include troubleshooting technical problems with online classes, setting up appointments to get vaccinated and stimulus check updates.

Think before you put stimulus check in the market 

If you plan to invest all or part of your $1,400 stimulus money in the stock market you will want to do some research. Although over the past decade, it seems like the only direction the market goes is up breaking new records there are always corrections. As well are you planning to invest or speculate. Don’t learn the hard way and lose your shirt in the process.

Scammers looking to take advantage of stimulus package unemployment benefits 

Throughout the covid-19 crisis, unemployment programs have served as a lifeline, channeling more than $650 billion over the past year to millions of struggling households. But the state-run agencies that distribute the funds have been overwhelmed, making their harried staff as well as their glitchy computer systems easy prey for criminals. It is calculated the they walked away with perhaps $36 billion meant for struggling Americans, but the number could be much higher.

A struggle to get a $1,400 stimulus check 

For people living without housing or basic resources like computers and internet access, banking accounts or even permanent addresses, navigating government websites and depositing paper checks has proved incredibly challenging, especially for those living on the street or in their cars this year. A report published last week by the Department of Housing and Urban Development found that over 580,000 people experienced homelessness prior to the pandemic. 

Unlike last year, people that have an income less than the required threshold to file a tax return will not have the benefit of the non-filer portal through the IRS, but will have to fill out a full tax return. An estimated 10 million Americans fell into this category, according to the Tax Policy Center.

An ultimatum to SSA over stimulus payment delays to federal benefits recipients 

The House Ways and Means committee has sent the Social Security Administration Commissioner Andrew Saul a letter demanding that the SSA send the IRS the information necessary for $1,400 stimulus checks to be distributed to 30 million Social Security and Supplemental Security Income recipients. The IRS had requested the information two weeks prior to the passing of the American Rescue Plan Act but the SSA has yet to follow through with the request. 

Previously, Bill Pascrell had asked President Joe Biden to remove Saul and his Deputy David Black for a laundry list of complaints. Both the Commissioner and Deputy were appointed by former President Donald Trump. The SSA has until Thursday to release the payment information to the IRS.

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Yellen hopeful of full employment in 2022

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen painted an optimistic picture for the US economy as it emerges from the coronavirus pandemic, telling US lawmakers that she sees both growth and possibly full employment next year - due to President Joe Biden's coronavirus stimulus package.

Yellen, in written testimony prepared for delivery to the US House of Representatives Financial Services Committee, said that with passage of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act, "I am confident that people will reach the other side of this pandemic with the foundations of their lives intact. And I believe they will be met there by a growing economy. In fact, I think we may see a return to full employment next year."

Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP

30 million stimulus payments delayed due to Social Security hold-up

The Huffington Post reoprts millions of disabled and retired Americans are still waiting for their $1,400 stimulus payments because of a holdup at the Social Security Administration, House Democrats said Wednesday. 

Social Security hasn’t handed over payment information that the Internal Revenue Service needs to send the coronavirus relief checks to nearly 30 million people receiving retirement or disability benefits, Democrats said. 

We understand that these beneficiaries are waiting because the Social Security Administration has not sent the necessary payment files to the Internal Revenue Service,” House Ways and Means Committee chair Richard Neal (D-Mass.) said in a letter to Social Security Commissioner Andrew Saul. 

Saul is a Donald Trump appointee whose term does not expire until 2025. Joe Biden has so far resisted calls to fire Saul despite calls from Democrats for his removal.

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Joe Biden signs a proclamation marking National Equal Pay Day 2021, flanked by US First Lady Jill Biden (L), US soccer players Margaret Purce (C) and Megan Rapinoe (2nd R), during an Equal Pay Day event in the South Court Auditorium of the White House in Washington DC, on March 24, 2021. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP)

CORONAVIRUS STIMULUS CHECK

Fourth stimulus check: is a new payment possible in 2021?

CORONAVIRUS STIMULUS CHECK

Fourth stimulus check: is a new payment possible in 2021?

Although the IRS is still in the process of distributing the $1,400 stimulus checks, some lawmakers are already discussing the possibility of another round of direct payments. Progressive are keen on a fourth stimulus check, which could well see recurring monthly payments provided for eligible Americans. 

A letter penned by Sens Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders called for recurring stimulus checks to be included in future legislation: "We urge you to include recurring direct payments and automatic unemployment insurance extensions tied to economic conditions in your Build Back Better long-term economic plan.”

Here's what we know so far about the Fourth Stimulus Check

Inspector General publishes scam update

The Inspector General has issued an update on social security scams following an increase in phone fraud targeting people by falsely telling them their Social Security Number has expired.

"The Inspector General of Social Security, Gail S. Ennis, is warning the public that telephone scammers may send faked documents by email to convince victims to comply with their demands. The Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has received reports of victims who received emails with attached letters and reports that appeared to be from Social Security or Social Security OIG. The letters may use official letterhead and government “jargon” to convince victims they are legitimate; they may also contain misspellings and grammar mistakes."

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Senate confirms Levine to key health post

The US Senate on Wednesday voted to approve President Joe Biden's choice of Rachel Levine to become assistant US health secretary, the first openly transgender person to be confirmed by the chamber.

Despite strong opposition from Republicans, Levine was confirmed on a vote of 52-48.

As the United States continues its attempts to conquer the covid-19 pandemic that has killed nearly 545,000 Americans, Levine arrives in Washington after leading the state of Pennsylvania's response to the coronavirus outbreak. Levine also has served as a professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at Penn State University.

Photo: Caroline Brehman/Pool via REUTERS

Another Child Tax Credit expansion could be on the way

One of the most notable inclusions in the American Rescue Plan was a complete overhaul of the Child Tax Credit programme to provide monthly payments worth up to $300 for eligible families. The current legislation will provide funding for 12 months of the new support, but there are hopes that it could be made permanent if it proves successful. 

Representative Rosa DeLauro, a Connecticut Democrat who has been a consistant campaigner for a child allowance said recently: “The crystallization of the child tax credit and what it can do to lift children and families out of poverty is extraordinary. We’ve been talking about this for years.”

CORONAVIRUS STIMULUS CHECKS

Third Stimulus Check: can my Social Security Number be suspended and what to do?

CORONAVIRUS STIMULUS CHECKS

Third Stimulus Check: can my Social Security Number be suspended and what to do?

The Social Security Administration’s national ‘Slam the Scam’ day on 4 March came as an increasing number people reported getting unsolicited phone calls requesting personal information. 

The calls often claimed that the recipient's Social Security Number had been ‘suspended’, and asked for important details or even financial payments to get it reinstated.

These calls are all fraudulent and represent a recent increase in scammers looking to swindle people out of their stimulus checks and other forms of government support. Here's everything you need to know about the new scams and how to spot a fraudulent call

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Stimulus check live updates: welcome

Hello and welcome to our daily live blog providing you with updates on the third round of stimulus checks, which is being sent out as part of President Joe Biden's $1.9tn American Rescue Plan coronavirus relief package.

We'll also be bringing you updates on a possible fourth stimulus check, and information on other economic-aid measures in Biden's bill, such as an enhanced child tax credit and supplemented unemployment benefits.

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