Third stimulus check updates: Sunday, 29 March
Stimulus checks live updates - Sunday 28 March
- Growing Congressional support for recurring fourth stimulus check (full story)
- White House tracking Suez Canal situation "very closely" amid concerns over consumer goods and PPE shortages
- IRS issues information on stimulus checks arriving by mail
- Republicans seek to have $1,400 payments to inmates redirected to victims
- Combined wealth of US billionaires increases by $1.3 trillion during pandemic
- 41 Democratic senators call for Child Tax Credit expansion to be made permanent
- Congress enjoys 10-year high in popularity polls after American Rescue Plan enacted
- SSA provides information to IRS to unlock stimulus checks for 30 million social security claimants (what happened?)
- US president unveils new $3 trillion employment package (full story)
- IRS has issued nearly 130 million stimulus checks to date, with 160 million households in the US set to receive $1,400 per person payment (who qualifies?)
- You can track your stimulus check using the IRS Get My Payment Tool
- US covid-19 cases/deaths: 30.21 million/548,828 (live updates from Johns Hopkins University)
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS), US Department of the Treasury and the Bureau of the Fiscal Service announced on Wednesday that they had started distributing around 37 million stimulus check payments in the second batch of Economic Impact Payments from the American Rescue Plan.
This will bring the total disbursed payments from President Biden's $1.9tn coronavirus relief package to approximately 127 million payments worth approximately $325 billion, with the total number of recipients believed to be around 160 million. If you are one of the unlucky ones who has not yet received a stimulus check, here's everything you need to know about the IRS online tracker.
Growing calls for recurring stimulus checks
The notion of recurring stimulus checks has been mooted for months now and it seems to be finally getting traction in Congress as Biden looks to press ahead with a more progressive agenda than initially thought.
A letter by Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, and cosigned by another 52 lawmakers, argues that more consistent and reliable support is needed:
“Worsening systemic inequities, such as food insecurity and housing instability, are most severe for Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities, who are suffering higher infection and mortality rates of COVID-19 and higher unemployment levels, compared to white Americans."
Decades of work behind the new Child Tax Credit
A report by the New York Times outlines the decades of perseverance behind the Child Tax Credit overhaul, which will see monthly payments worth up to $300 per child sent to eligible families. Senator Patty Murray and Representative Rosa DeLauro have been working on similiar proposals for years and Biden signalled them out for special thanks when the new stimulus bill was passed.
Biden said: “You guys — you, Patty and others — are the ones that have been leading this for so long, and it’s finally coming to fruition.”
Stimulus check delays for Social Security recipients
Rachel Maddow has spoken about a delay in the Social Security Adminstration that left 30 million Americans without their $1,400 stimulus checks because of an administrative error. The SSA had failed to hand over the relevant details to the IRS, who needed the recipients' details before the payments could be made.
Tax limits removed for revised Child Tax Credit programme
One of the most crucial changes made to the Child Tax Credit system under the new stimulus bill is the removal of the 'partly refundable' clause that had prevented low-income families from receiving the full amount.
In the past families who paid little or no tax were not able to receive the complete entitlement, while wealthier families were able to get the full amount. As Senator Bennet explains here, the tax threshold removal will get the vital childcare support money to those who need it most.
The eligibility requirements for the $1,400 third stimulus check, which is being distributed as part of President Joe Biden’s $1.9tn coronavirus stimulus bill, are very similar to those applied to the first and second direct payments.
However changes have been made to ensure that the federal funding does not go to those classed as "high-earners", while the requirements have been expanded to allow a previously marginalised group to get the money for the first time.
Stimulus checks provide consumer spending boost
Research from the New York Times suggests that the $1,400 direct payments being sent out at the moment could be responsible for a huge spike in consumer spending as the White House looks to boost the ailing economy.
Scott Galloway, professor of marketing at the New York University Leonard N. Stern School of Business, cites the combination of widespread savings, government stimulus and asset appreciation as the cause for the generational spending boom.
Thune hits out at stimulus spending
GOP Senator John Thume has accused the Democrats of becoming the Party of Senator Bernie Sanders after Biden pursued a more progressive agenda in his opening months. The $1.9 trillion stimulus bill was passed using reconciliation and without a single Republican vote.
Some of the more progressive policies included in the package were the reformed Child Tax Credit programme, which makes considerable changes to a 45-year old system. Biden is rumoured to be considering a significant tax hike for the wealthiest in order to fund the spending spree.
Included in the new stimulus bill was a complete overhaul of the Child Tax Credit programme that was first introduced in 1976. The new system is a radical departure from the childcare support that went before and the White House believe it will help to cut childhood poverty in the United States in half once up and running.
The new programme increases the amount on offer and opens up full eligibility to more groups, but it is the new-look distribution method that could be the most beneficial.
Look out for stimulus check payments in your mail
The IRS have already sent out over 127 million stimulus check payments, the vast majority of which came in the form of direct deposits into recipients' bank accounts. They are now moving on to distribute two of the slower forms of payments, with paper stimulus checks and Economic Impact Payment debit cards currently on their way. Make sure to keep an eye out for the mailman.
Optimism about potential of new Child Tax Credits
The White House are eager to talk up the potential benefits of the American Rescue Plan and analysts have suggested that the new-look Child Tax Credits programme could be responsible for halving childhood poverty in the US.
A key feature of the new system is the introduction of monthly payments, but IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig has warned that they may struggle to implement that system from the initial target of 1 July. The tax agency are curently overseeing both a busy tax season and the distribution of the third stimulus checks.
Third stimulus check information not available through IRS Online Account
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has issued a reminder to inform that information relating to the third, most recent stimulus payment (date, amount) is not currently available through the IRS Online Account service.
Online Account is an online system that allows you to securely access your individual account information. It allows you to view, among other information, details about previous Economic Impact Payments (EIP 1 and EIP 2) but not the third at the moment.
Stimulus aid could be the prelude to tax hikes - for the rich
While President Biden's $1.9tn coronavirus relief package just about made through the Senate, further legislative plans which he plans to unveil in Pittsburgh this week may be harder to get past lawmakers and will be less popular.
Initial reports suggest that Biden will reveal details of a $3 trillion infrastructure package which will contain funds for roads and bridges, a permanent expansion of the child tax credit, free community college, child care aid and a package of tax increases on wealthy Americans and corporations.
It is expect to meet staunch opposition, with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell arguing that the American Rescue Plan was nothing more than "a Trojan Horse" to appease the electorate before raising taxes.
Gas prices could rise on the back of stimulus relief
Market analysts believe that gas prices are set to rise in late spring/ early summer as the US economy picks up on the back of President Biden's $1.9tn American Rescue Plan Act. Gas prices per gallon on average have risen 66 cents in three months - and are currently a dollar higher than the lowest point of the coronavirus crisis. Increased demand will lead to a hike in prices, experts say.
Biden could forgive $50,000 of student debt "with the flick of a pen"
New York's Senator and the Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has urged Presdient Biden to write off student debts up to $50,000 and believes legislation to do so would not need to go through the House.
He told Brian Tyler Cohen, "Joe Biden could forgive $50,000 of student debt with the flick of a pen - you don't need legislation, you don't need 50 or 60 votes. You can do it, 93% of it is either Federal loans or Federal guaranteed loans which the Federal government can forgive legally. We are having a big campaign to push him to do it. But, one of the reasons some of the people against it said, 'Well, it's not even tax-free..' You make it tax-free. If the loan is forgiven you don't pay any taxes on it. It's a racial justice issue - 28% of the wealth gap between black and white is because of student loans. By the way, if your parents took over the loans, they would be eligible too to get forgiveness"
Covid-19 Relief Fund fraudsters identified and charged
A total of 474 people have been charged with committing crimes relating to theft of funds from Federal Covid relief programs - up to half a billion dollars worth in fraud, the Department of Justice confirmed in a statement:
"As of today, the Department of Justice has publicly charged 474 defendants with criminal offenses based on fraud schemes connected to the Covid-19 pandemic. These cases involve attempts to obtain over $569 million from the US government and unsuspecting individuals through fraud and have been brought in 56 federal districts around the country. These cases reflect a degree of reach, coordination, and expertise that is critical for enforcement efforts against Covid-19 related fraud to have a meaningful impact and is also emblematic of the Justice Department’s response to criminal wrongdoing.
“To anyone thinking of using the global pandemic as an opportunity to scam and steal from hardworking Americans, my advice is simple – don’t,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicholas L. McQuaid of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “No matter where you are or who you are, we will find you and prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law.”
Biden signs Bankruptcy Relief Extension Act into law
On Saturday, President Joe Biden signed the H.R.1651 Bankruptcy Relief Extension Act. H.R. 1651 2021 is bipartisan legislation to temporarily extend COVID-19 bankruptcy relief provisions until 27 March 2022. Those provisions, which were part of the CARES Act, were due to expire last week. The bill had passed the House by a bipartisan vote of 399-14.
On Wednesday the White House confirmed that the Biden administration had hit the President’s target of sending out 100 million stimulus checks within the first ten days of distribution.
An estimated 160 million Americans are expected to receive direct payments worth up to $1,400 each, but many in Congress still believe that the support offered is insufficient considering the damage that the pandemic has done to the economy.
In fact while the Senate was considering the American Rescue Plan in March a group of ten progressive senators, led by Sens Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, called for recurring stimulus checks to be included in future legislation.
The group’s letter read: "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.”
Biden: Economic outlook is brightening
So far, Biden has not voiced support for recurring checks and any prospective direct payments would face a legislative challenge. The President stated this week that 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 (gross domestic product)."
Many Americans recently saw money deposited into their bank accounts after President Joe Biden signed a new $1.9 trillion covid-19 rescue package that included a third round of direct stimulus payments. However, some Democratic lawmakers are saying the $1,400 checks that most individual Americans received are not enough.
The big question on people's lips now is whether there will be a fourth round of stimulus checks, as the federal government continues to distribute the $1,400 provided in the American Rescue Plan. So far, 64 congressional lawmakers have pushed for recurring direct payments until the pandemic ends.
Still waiting for your payment?
If you’re still waiting for your payment, see https://go.usa.gov/xsM6D
How to identify an authentic $1,400 stimulus paper check
In this third round of stimulus aid, the paper check will look similar to those which were issued in April and December last year but with a few subtle, visual differences. They bear the United States Treasury hallmark and seal (“Bureau of the Fiscal Service”) - this seal is printed with security ink to deter counterfeiters. Other features include microprinted text on the reverse which is invisible to the naked eye, a watermark - “US TREASURY” can be seen when the check is held up to light, plus an ultraviolet spot coating which appears under the payee information.
What are the differences between an EIP card and a stimulus check?
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and US Treasury began sending out 37 million stimulus payments to Americans this week, payments totalling almost $83 billion. Of those, 15 million were issued as paper checks and approximately 5 million were pre-paid EIP debit cards – both payment methods will be mailed out by post to addresses on file at the IRS. This third round of Economic Impact Payments is part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 which was signed into law by President Joe Biden on 11 March 2021.
Paper checks and EIP debit cards began processing on Friday 19 March and will continue to be sent by mail over the next few weeks. The EIP debit cards will need to be produced and distributed, meaning that the process may take longer. In the two previous rounds of stimulus aid, they started to arrive around a week after the paper checks. They will arrive in a white envelope from the US Department of the Treasury.
The White House has announced a possible tax on drivers' mileage to help fund President Joe Biden's proposed $3 trillion US infrastructure plan.
"The idea that part of the way we pay for roads is you pay based on how much you drive. The gas tax used to be the obvious way to do it. It's not anymore," Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg said.
Civil rights groups sue Georgia over voting restrictions
A coalition of civil rights groups has filed a federal lawsuit challenging Georgia's sweeping new voting restrictions, arguing that the Republican-backed law is intended to make it harder for people – particularly Black voters – to cast ballots.
Meanwhile, President Joe Biden - who became the first Democratic presidential candidate in three decades to win Georgia in November's election - accused Republicans there and in other states of mounting a broad assault on voting rights.
Among other limits, the law imposes stricter identification requirements, limits drop boxes, gives lawmakers the power to take over local elections and shortens the early voting period for all runoff elections. It also makes it a misdemeanor for people to offer food and water to voters waiting in line.
The legislation has alarmed Democrats, who just months ago celebrated historic wins in the presidential election and two Senate campaigns in Georgia that helped deliver the White House and US Senate control to their party in Washington.
"It's an atrocity," Biden told reporters on Friday, shortly after comparing the restrictions to racist "Jim Crow" laws that for decades kept Black Southerners from full voting rights.
He has urged Congress to pass Democratic-backed legislation that would require automatic registration, expand absentee voting and temper voter ID laws. Thus far, Republican opposition in the divided US Senate has stymied that effort.
The Georgia lawsuit was filed in Atlanta federal court just hours after the legislation became law on Thursday by the New Georgia Project, Black Voters Matter Fund and Rise, Inc. Marc Elias, a Democratic lawyer who spearheaded the party's election legal efforts last year, is representing the groups.
"These provisions lack any justification for their burdensome and discriminatory effects on voting," the lawsuit said. "Instead, they represent a hodgepodge of unnecessary restrictions that target almost every aspect of the voting process but serve no legitimate purpose or compelling state interest other than to make absentee, early, and election-day voting more difficult — especially for minority voters."
Biden said that restrictions were "outrageous" and "un-American."
"We have a moral and Constitutional obligation to act," he said, possibly foreshadowing a coming legal fight over the measure.
Photo: REUTERS/Dustin Chambers
The IRS announced that 15 million paper stimulus checks were sent out by mail last week. Your $1,400 stimulus payment could arrive in the mail.
IRS tells recipients to keep an eye on the mail
Many of the 160 million stimulus checks being issued by the IRS will not be direct deposit payments but in the form of paper checks or pre-paid debit cards.
As such, the IRS has asked recipients of these forms of payments to keep an eye out for stimulus checks arriving in the mail over the next few weeks.
Republicans seek to redirect stimulus checks for inmates to victims
One aspect of the latest round of $1,400 stimulus checks that has caused controversy was the decision to make inmates eligible for the payment under the text of the American Rescue Plan.
Now, Republican state lawmakers are seeking to have those checks rerouted to the victims of crime if an inmate has not paid in full any court-ordered compensation due.
US travel industry urges introduction of vaccine passports
The global travel industry has been crippled by the coronavirus pandemic and airlines have suffered huge losses due to the almost total shutdown of traffic over the course of the past year. Many have reported staggering losses while there are question marks over the long-term viability of some carriers as the world adjusts to a new normal where air travel has again become the preserve of the few rather than the masses.
China is trialing a vaccine passport system for domestic travel in a bid to give the industry a shot in the arm and US Airlines and other travel and labor organizations have urged the Biden administration to push through a similar system to rescue the domestic travel industry.
White House tracking Suez situation "very closely"
The United States Navy was due to send an assessment team to the canal on Saturday to help efforts to shift the colossal vessel, Defense officials confirmed.
White House press secretary said the Biden administration was growing concerned about the potential impact on energy markets as salvage experts admitted it could take "weeks" to dislodge the Ever Given unless efforts to free the vast ship "world out exactly right."
Suez blockage could lead to consumer and PPE shortages
The Ever Given has been stuck in the Suez Canal since Tuesday after strong winds caused the 222,000-tonne container ship to become wedged diagonally across one of the world's busiest shipping routes.
Efforts to dislodge the enormous vessel are ongoing but shipping is backed up and global supply chains of cunsumer goods and PPE gear for hospitals have been disrupted. Minds are now turning to alternative means to keep commerce afloat as resuce crews and the US Navy seek to unblock the vital shortcut.
"This is a devastating event in an already stressed market, where high demand has caused congestion delays that keep import cargo from reaching store shelves in a timely fashion," said Richard Roche, a sub-committee chairman at the National Customs Brokers & Forwarders Association of America.
The risk to container shipping is greatest in Europe - where key seaports like Antwerp in Belgium and Felixstowe in Britain are grappling with backlogs. The United States is exposed on the East and Gulf Coasts. About 45% cargo volume at the Port of New York & New Jersey moves through the Suez Canal, experts said.
US companies like Nike and Peloton recently made headlines calling out millions of dollars in shipping delay-related costs and product availability disruption. Relief checks from President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus package are expected to boost consumer demand and intensify such pressures.
Within days, the race to reroute cargo could be on - pitting retailers against other industries for precious cargo space.
British supply chain procurement partner OCI Limited Group Chief Executive Oliver Chapman said 134 containers of personal protective gear including gloves and masks eventually bound for organizations like England's National Health Service and New York's Northwell Health are on nine ships stuck behind the Ever Given.
He said alternative rail service from Asia into Europe is already heavily congested, and flying cargo is prohibitively expensive – increasing the cost of one small box of nitrile gloves from about 25 cents for sea to $2-$3 for air into Europe.
His group is already rerouting some US cargo to the Port of Los Angeles, which is digging out from under a mountain of cargo.
America’s billionaires gain $1.3tn during pandemic year
America's billionaires benefitted from the Covid-19 pandemic - so much so that they could fund two-thirds of President Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan with their profits from the last year. The collective net worth of the nation’s 657 billionaires stood at $4.2 trillion, up $1.3 trillion over since March 2020, according to figures in a report by Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF) and the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS).
CORONAVIRUS STIMULUS CHECK
Third stimulus check: How many people will receive the payment?
The third round of stimulus checks was a key feature of the $1.9 trillion covid-19 relief bill that passed earlier this month and the IRS have been sending out the payments over the past two weeks. As part of a huge national effort the tax authority are also attempting to oversee a busy tax season and set up the new Child Tax Credit programme.
The new stimulus checks are worth up to $1,400 per person and have different eligibility requirements from previous rounds of payment. The income threshold has been lowered to exclude high earners, but a significant group have been added.
Stimulus checks spur 10-year High for Congress' popularity
The promised third round of stimulus checks has been credited as a key reason for the Democrats' success in taking control of the Senate in the Georgia runoff race, and it appears that the $1,400 direct payments continue to be popular.
Recent polls suggest that the overall popularity of Congress is at a ten-year high, with both the House of Representatives and the Senate held by Democrats. Over 127 million stimulus check payments have already been made and the swift distribution has clearly helped that approval rating.
How are Americans spending their stimulus checks?
The IRS has been distributing the $1,400 direct payments for over two weeks and the money is already in the pockets of over 127 million Americans.
Financial experts are expecting the stimulus check boost to have a notable impact on consumer spending in the US, but this PBS report takes a look at how the federal support is affecting those who receive it.
SSA slows down stimulus checks for Social Security recipients
The IRS have confirmed that they now have the required information to process roughly 30 million stimulus check payments that had been delayed. The Social Security Administration had failed to provide the relevant information, meaning that low-income families were denied their $1,400 direct payments.
For more details on this story, check out: IRS finally receives SSA stimulus check information
Stimulus checks for qualifying dependents for the first time
The eligibility requirements for the third stimulus checks were markedly different to the previous payments with the income threshold lowered to exclude that deemed high-earners. However one area of expansion was in the case of adult dependents, who will be able to receive a stimulus check payment for the first time.
Millions of Americans are still filing their 2020 tax returns at the moment and it will be worth baring this in mind for any potential stimulus programmes in the future. It should be noted that the $1,400 will be added to the filer's own entitlement, rather than coming as a separate check.
What has Biden said about a fourth stimulus check?
Joe Biden stated this week that 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.
Given the success of the huge stimulus bill and the positive public opinion it has garnered, some have speculated that Biden will now wish to pursue a more ambitious agenda. This could see another round of stimulus checks in the offing in future, but Senate rules mean that Americans may have to wait a few months before it can be passed.
Stimulus check live updates: welcome
Hello and welcome to our daily live blog for Sunday 28 March providing you with updates on the third round of stimulus checks, which is being sent out as part of 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.