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

The American Rescue Plan provides various forms of direct support for millions of people, but how much can you receive from the $1.9 trillion package?

The American Rescue Plan provides various forms of direct support for millions of people, but how much can you receive from the $1.9 trillion package?

The American Rescue Plan provides $1.9 trillion of federal funding in response to the coronavirus pandemic and the havoc it has wreaked on the US economy.

As well as tackling the public health crisis, much of the funding aims to provide direct financial relief for Americans and small businesses who have had their income streams strangled over the past 12 months. There is a third stimulus check worth $1,400, a complete overhaul of the Child Tax Credit programme and a lengthy extension to the additional unemployment benefits provision.

The White House fact sheet on the American Rescue Plan promised to "deliver immediate relief to working families bearing the brunt of this crisis”; but how much can an average family receive?

Third stimulus check is the largest to date

One of the key inclusions in the American Rescue Plan was the third round of stimulus checks, which was the costliest programme included in the package. This time the top amount on offer was $1,400, the most generous direct payment to date.

There were some changes to the stimulus checks with eligibility requirements tightened to exclude individuals earning more than $80,000 or couples with a combined income of more than $160,000. Another eligibility change saw adult dependents able to get a stimulus check for the first time, meaning that millions of college students, elderly relatives and disabled Americans will be getting a payment.

In total, a family of five with one college student could receive a maximum of $7,000 as a direct stimulus check payment thanks to the American Rescue Plan.

Generational expansion of the Child Tax Credit

The Child Tax Credit was first introduced in 1976 and provided a tax rebate for American parents to help with the cost of childcare. However the maximum $2,000 annual refund offered in the past was completely overhauled in the American Rescue Plan to provide monthly payments worth nearly twice as much.

Parents will now receive a monthly payment of up to $300 for each child under the six, and $250 for children aged between six and 17. The system will be administered through an online portal which is not expected to be running until July at the earliest, but the IRS are hoping to start the payments as soon as possible.

Once up and running, a family with two young children (aged less than six) would get monthly payments of up to $600, with no limits placed on low earners who pay little or no income tax.

Additional unemployment benefits extended through September

Throughout the pandemic unemployment levels have been dangerously high with millions losing their jobs. Unemployment benefits vary between states, but in general they offer a maximum of 26 weeks of jobless support for residents. Some offer as few as 12 weeks.

To support those who are out of work the CARES Act included an additional federal unemployment benefit that provided extra weekly payments for recipients. The American Rescue Plan extends the programme to provide $300 weekly payments through September of this year.

There is no limit on the total amount of the additional benefits that can be claimed. This means that if both parents were to lose their jobs the household income would be boosted with $600 of weekly unemployment benefits, in addition to the state’s provision.


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