Fourth stimulus check summary: 26 May 2021

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US stimulus checks | Wednesday 26 May 2021

Japanese baffled by US stimulus checks arriving in the mail

Who says there’s no such thing as free money? Some Japanese people who once lived in the United States recently received US government stimulus checks — to their befuddlement. 

The checks of up to $1,400 (about ¥150,000) were issued as part of US President Joe Biden’s measures to shore up a coronavirus-ravaged economy. It is believed that most of the Japanese recipients are not eligible to receive the cash handout. 

“I don’t understand it,” said a 66-year-old woman in Yokohama who early this month received a check issued by the US Treasury Department. “I’m stumped.”

Full story by Cynthia Yumiko Staub and Ryosuke Yamauchi.

STUDENT DEBT

Can Biden cancel college debts with student loan forgiveness?

Can Biden cancel college debts with student loan forgiveness?

The President has previously said he supports providing financial relief for graduates, but his new budget looks likely to exclude proposals to write off a proportion of students' debt.

Upon entering office on 20 January, President Joe Biden did the same and extended the freeze up to 1 October. However, while Biden issued support for more long-lasting student debt relief on the campaign trail he has done little to address the issue since becoming president.

He is under increasing pressure to provide financial relief for struggling graduates who have built up huge debts during their studies, but there is uncertainty about how much help he can offer using executive authority.

Read full details here

US News

Child and Dependent Care Credit 2021: who qualifies for it? 

Child and Dependent Care Credit 2021: who qualifies for it? 

Changes made under the American Rescue Plan could increase eligibility for the Child and Dependent Care Credit.

The Child and Dependent Care Credit (CDCC) allows those who are fully employed a tax break if they have contracted a caretaker to look after their children thirteen and younger or a or “dependent who isn't able to care for himself or herself.” Other types of expenses made to care for a qualifying individual can also be claimed. 

Read full details here

 

AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN

$3,000/$3,600 child tax credit stimulus: when is IRS opening the online portal for registering?

$3,000/$3,600 child tax credit stimulus: when is IRS opening the online portal for registering?

The American Rescue Plan (ARP) includes a valuable enhancement to the Child Tax Credit that will send, if parents want, monthly direct payments of up to $300 per child. The IRS is setting up an online portal that they can use to update information or opt out of the advance payments to delay receiving the tax credit.

The changes to the Child Tax Credit are currently only for the 2021 fiscal year. However, depending on the final draft of the American Family Plan they could be extended until 2025, but progressive members of Congress would like to make the enhancements permanent.

Full details here

US News

Biden ask for legal review on student debt cancellation: How could it impact you?

Biden ask for legal review on student debt cancellation: How could it impact you?

Forty-five million people in the US have student debt and those under forty owe more than half. The Center for Law and Policy Studies released a memo arguing for student debt cancellation and showed the burden of debt is held disproportionately by women and people of color. On 1 April, the President tasked the Department of Education with resolving the legal question of whether a president can cancel debt using his presidential authority. In an interview with Politico, the President’s Chief of Staff Ron Klain said that once the President and his team have the report in hand, “he’ll look at that legal authority, he’ll look at the policy issues around that, and he’ll make a decision.”

Read our full coverage for more information on what the White House is planning when it comes to student debt cancellation. 

Investing in housing is an essential part of President Biden’s strategy to grow strong, healthy communities in every ZIP Code.  So, today, the administration is releasing two new factsheets highlighting some of the key housing elements of the American Jobs Plan.

The President’s plan proposes a bold $213 billion investment in America’s housing infrastructure through a number of federal programs and proposals with bipartisan support.

This investment is paired with expansion of bipartisan tax credits and incentives to lower barriers to affordable housing in more — and higher-opportunity — places across the country.

Karine Jean-Pierre, Principal Deputy Press Secretary

IRS sends another batch of stimulus checks 

On 26 May, the IRS announced that they disbursed an additional 1.8 million stimulus checks. The batch of payments brings the total amount paid to $391 billion.

The IRS sent checks to 900,000 people for who the IRS did not have the necessary information. In addition, "supplemental payments for people who earlier this year received payments based on their 2019 tax returns but are eligible for a new or larger payment based on their recently processed 2020 tax returns." 

Read the full press release here

US News

Maryland Vaccine Lottery: how to enter and sign up to win daily $40000

Maryland Vaccine Lottery: How can you enter to win $40,000? 

On 20 May, Governor of Maryland Larry Hogan announced that the state would be creating a covid-19 vaccine lottery dubbed the $2 Million VaxCash Promotion. Those who have received at least one dose of a vaccine would be automatically entered to win $40,000, or the grand prize of $400,000. Beginning on 25 May through 3 July, the state will select one winner who will take home a $40,000 prize. 

On the Fourth of July, the lottery will end with one person being selected to win $400,000.

Read our full coverage for more details as well on how the competition has impacted vaccination rates in the state. 

Growing support for recurring stimulus checks

In recent weeks there has been little word from the White House on the prospect of a fourth round of stimulus checks, but there does appear to be a growing appetite across the country for additional payments to be agreed. We know that a group of Democratic senaotrs have signed a letter calling for Biden in include recurring stimulus checks in the next relief bill, but the President wants to focus on other priorities for now. 

Travel spending surges after stimulus check boost

After over a year of pandemic restrictions the rules on travel are finally starting to loosen across the country and Americans are starting to make plans for a summer holiday for the first time since 2019. The improving situation comes just as the IRS is sending out the $1,400 stimulus checks that were agreed in the American Rescue Plan. 

That federal support has provided new impetuts for travel spending in the US. This report from Skift reads: "Across travel brands, U.S. spending and survey data in April showed a rebound in consumers’ willingness to book travel as the government sent its third and largest round of stimulus payments of the crisis."

Are stimulus checks a good idea?

There has been much speculation in recent weeks about the prospect of a fourth stimulus check, following on from the three previous rounds of direct payments. Each of the payments has been hugely popular with over $800 billion of federal support handed out so far. 

However not everyone is a fan of the stimulus checks and some economists warn about the dangers of overheating the economy with excessive spending. Here's what you need to know...

AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN

$3,000/$3,600 Child Tax Credit: what to know about the stimulus coming in 15 July

The new-look Child Tax Credit was one of the most significant elements of the American Rescue Plan, the $1.9 trillion relief bill passed in March. While the third round of stimulus checks was more heralded, experts are particularly enthused about the positive impact that the CTC expansion could have on American families.

The new system will see eligible families receive a monthly direct payment, rather than a single annual tax credit, which should make it easier for families to budget. Here's everything you need to know about the upcoming monthly payments. 

Read more

New wave of payments sees 1.8m stimulus checks sent out

The IRS is continuing to send out direct payments as part of the third round of stimulus checks for the rest of 2021, in the form of supplementary 'plus-up' payments. Today the tax authority confirmed that 1.8 million payments, worth more than $3.5 billion, were sent out in this week's round. 

This batch takes the total number of stimulus checks distributed to 167 million, at a total cost of around $391 billion.

How will the Child Tax Credit payments be used?

If you're expecting to begin receiving a monthly Child Tax Credit payment from 15 July, it can be hard to decide how best t use the support. The programme is designed to provide extra financial relief for families to put towards the cost of raising children. 

This study from Civic Science found that 45% of parents intend to either save the money, or spend it to pay off existing debts or bills. Around 18% said that the money was needed to pay for essentials like clothing for their children. 

Over 1.2 million are still missing out on their first stimulus check

Over one million Americans are missing out on up to $1,200 of federal support, simply because they have not yet cashed a paper stimulus check received during the first round of payments. While most have received their money in the form of a bank transfer, some got theirs in the form of a physical check or an Economic Impact Payment debit card.

According to a report in The Herald, the 1.2 million figure reflects "the number of people who either refused to accept, paid back or not cashed the stimulus checks they received from the IRS as a result of the CARES Act that was signed into law on March 27, 2020" by President Trump.

 

CORONAVIRUS STIMULUS CHECKS

Fourth stimulus checks: what do Republicans think of a new relief bill?

In the past month President Biden has announced further details about both the American Jobs Plan and the American Families Plan, the next stages of his Build Back Better stimulus proposals. In looking for support for the measures, Biden has hosted a number of White House meetings to build a consensus behind his proposal.

The President has met with bipartisan groups and appears confident that a compromise can be found, but there does not seem to be enough support for a fourth stimulus check to make another round likely in the near future. The American Rescue Plan, which included the $1,400 stimulus checks, did not receive a single GOP vote. 

Read more

Over $800 billion has been spent on stimulus checks

The pandemic has spurred the need for economic action unlike anything for generations will successive stimulus bills costing over $4 trillion in federal spending. This report from CNN breaks down where that money went, with small business support and the three rounds of sitmulus checks costing the most. 

In total the direct payments, which totalled a maximum of $3,200 per person, have cost an estimated $804 billion already, with ongoing calls for a recurring fourth stimulus check to be included in the next bill. 

How will the Child Tax Credit direct payments work?

John Delaney of the Bipartisan Policy Center speaks to Yahoo Finance about the benefits of the new-look Child Tax Credit, sounding optimistic about the good work that the programme can do. He suggests that this will help tax relief to be better targeted to those in need. 

The initial 12-month programme will cost around $25 billion but there are already plans to extend that further. The American Families Plan will see the CTC extended to the end of 2025 if it successfully passes Congress. 

Who is in favour of recurring stimulus checks?

So far 28 Democrats in the Senate have signed a letter to President Biden calling on him to include a fourth stimulus check, in the form of recurring monthly payments, in his next large-scale economic relief bill. The White House has remained tight-lipped on the prospect of more stimulus payments in recent weeks, but there is growing pressure from within Biden's own party. 

The senators wrote: "This crisis is far from over, and families deserve certainty that they can put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads. Families should not be at the mercy of constantly-shifting legislative timelines and ad hoc solutions."

New Child Tax Credit could impact 90% of US children

A new study from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities suggests that up to 65.6 million children in the US could benefit from the expanded Child Tax Credit if the programme is extended in the American Families Plan. The new stimulus package was announced last month by Biden but he is facing opposition from GOP lawmakers to pass it.

The study found that 90% of all American kids would likely be covered by the expansion which will see monthly direct payments sent out to eligible families. 

Don’t lose your stimulus check & tax refund on a lemon 

Ohio’s Attorney General Dave Yost has some advice for Ohioans, and really anyone looking to buy a used car with the money they’ve received lately from the IRS. If you buy a lemon you’ll be stuck with it, Ohio’s Lemon law doesn’t apply to used cars.

Some basic tips from the AG: 

- Choose a reputable dealer 

- Evaluate the car’s operating condition 

- Review the car’s history 

- Pay a fair price 

- Know who’s responsible for repairs and maintenance after the purchase 

- Review the written contract and any other necessary documents 

CORONAVIRUS STIMULUS CHECKS

Who has been pushing to pass a fourth stimulus check?

The IRS has sent out the vast majority of stimulus checks budgeted for in the third round of Economic Impact Payments, but there are indications that the effect of those $1,400 stimulus checks is beginning to wear off for some.

Calls for the White House to include more stimulus checks in the Build Back Better investment package continue, so who are those behind the push? 

US News

Child and Dependent Care Credit 2021: who qualifies for it? 

The Child and Dependent Care Credit (CDCC) allows those who are fully employed a tax break if they have contracted a caretaker to look after their children thirteen and younger or “dependent who isn't able to care for himself or herself.” Other types of expenses made to care for a qualifying individual can also be claimed. 

Changes made under the American Rescue Plan could increase eligibility for the Child and Dependent Care Credit.

Find out what you can do to qualify and get a jump on next year's taxes.

“Revenge travelers” to Seattle can enjoy renovated Sea-Tac airport, kept afloat with stimulus money 

The Sea-Tac saw a drop of over 60 percent in traffic through the airport last year, temporarily shuttering many of the business that serve the facility. The airport lost about $350 million in 2020 and expects to lose about $100 million this year Managing Director Lance Lyttle told Seattle Times.  

Federal stimulus money was vital to keeping the airport running and save the jobs of the roughly 1,100 workers the airport directly employs. The airport got $192 million last year and this year another $37 million in the second stimulus package. Through the American Rescue Plan Act, Lyttle expects the airport to get another $150 million later this year. 

Lyttle is encouraged by the signs of a return to normalcy saying “As more and more people get vaccinated; we’re seeing what we call ‘revenge travel.'”

US NEWS

Unemployment benefits: will the $300 weekly payments continue?

Citing the need to get people back to work 23 Republican-led states have decided that enhanced unemployment benefits helping Americans who couldn’t work due to the pandemic are holding back the economic recovery. Although the financial assistance is slated to continue until the first week of September in the federal bill, some of those states have chosen to start ending benefits as soon as June.

Find out which states will stop federal unemployment programs

California Golden State Stimulus

Where is my California Golden State Stimulus? How to check when it will arrive

The State of California passed a $9.6 billion relief package back in February 2021 to provide assistance to residents struggling with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Among the measures was a California-wide equivalent of the nationwide federal stimulus checks. The California payments are known as Golden State Stimulus checks and are being paid out by the state’s Franchise Tax Board; they are worth $600 or $1,200 depending on eligibility.

Check when yours will arrive

Inequality inches up as stimulus checks dry up 

The Morning Consult / Axios Index showed the first significant increase in inequality since January when it peaked. The index, which gauges how inequality is changing in response to policy developments, business conditions and current events, ticked up nearly one point to 6.5 in May.

Since Congress passed the covid-19 relief bill in December the index had been trending down, but now as money from stimulus checks begins to dry up while jobs aren’t keeping pace with the demand.

AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN

$3,000/$3,600 child tax credit stimulus: when is IRS opening the online portal for registering?

The American Rescue Plan (ARP) includes a valuable enhancement to the Child Tax Credit that will send, if parents want, monthly direct payments of up to $300 per child. The IRS is setting up an online portal that they can use to update information or opt out of the advance payments to delay receiving the tax credit.

For more details

Where did the stimulus money go? 

Congress has approved $6 trillion since March last year to prop up the US economy and families impacted by the pandemic. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a nonprofit that's tracking the spending, says that about $4 trillion has been disbursed so far, leaving $2 trillion still pending to be sent.

So where did all the money go, and did it go to the right place?

US NEWS

$50 stimulus to pay internet bill: how to claim it

Internet access has been crucial during the pandemic whether for working from home, allowing students to continue their studies or to have face time with friends and family with social distancing restrictions keeping us separated. Now tens of millions will receive help paying their monthly internet bill through an emergency government program to help low-income households during the covid-19 pandemic.

Registration is now open to claim a monthly $50 coupon towards your internet bill along with other aid as part of the Emergency Broadband Benefit.

Find out how to claim the coupon

Push for greater bandwidth with stimulus money 

Senator Ron Wyden is calling on the Treasury Department to fund broadband projects in communities without access to 100Mbps upload and download speeds with the money allocated by the American Rescue Plan earlier this year. The current language in the bill dedicates money to areas that are “unserved” or “underserved” which according to the FCC the latter are communities with speeds of below 25Mbps downloading and 3Mbps uploading. However, if more than one device is actively using the connection, and most households these days have several devices per person, a faster connection is needed. 

Across the US there is a divide between urban and rural communities. On average the fastest connections double that of the states with the slowest. 

“The mass adoption of video calling, streaming, and other bandwidth-intensive apps by Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic has made it clear that miserly speeds and data caps are holding back telework, remote education and telehealth capacity. Simply put, it is not possible for a family of four to telework and engage in remote schooling while sharing 3 Mbps of upload bandwidth,” Wyden wrote in the letter.

Bitcoin rebounds 

Cryptocurrencies gained ground on Tuesday after steep drops last week. Bitcoin was up 5% surpassing $40,000 from a low near $30,000 on Sunday. Bitcoin is still far below its April record peak of $64,895. 

Last week turbulence came after signs of a Chinese crackdown on the emerging sector. This week’s gains come after Elon Musk said on Monday he spoke to bitcoin miners in North America about renewable energy solutions.

Increase in small business start-ups related to stimulus aid 

Each of the three successive Economic Impact Payment packages has seen a surge in small business start-ups, the New York Times reports. That trend was especially felt in black neighborhoods possibly starting a new era of entrepreneurship. 

Citing data from a study conducted by the Startup Cartography Project, looking at data from eight US states, the study provides new insight into the changing nature and geography of entrepreneurship in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Consistent with other data sources, following an initial decline, the overall level of state-level business registrations not only rebounds but increases across all eight states. 

Areas including a higher proportion of Black residents, and more specifically higher median income Black neighborhoods, are associated with higher growth in startup formation rates between 2019 and 2020. Moreover, these dynamics are reflected in the passage of the major Federal relief packages. 

Even though legislation such as the CARES Act did not directly support new business formation, the passage and implementation of relief packages was followed by a relative increase in start-up formation rates.

IRS offers tips for those who missed 17 May deadline

The Internal Revenue Service offer advice for those filers who missed last week's deadline

US jobs currently plentiful

The Conference Board survey's so-called labor market differential, derived from data on respondents' views on whether jobs are plentiful or hard to get, raced to a reading of 34.6 in May from 21.6 in April.

This measure, which closely correlates to the unemployment rate in the Labor Department's closely watched employment report, is just below its 38.3 peak in August 2019. The jump in the so-called labor market differential this month likely reflected a record 8.1 million job openings.

It offers hope that job growth picked up this month. A labor shortage is hampering job growth, even as nearly 10 million Americans are officially unemployed. The worker shortage has been blamed on generous unemployment benefits, including a weekly $300 subsidy from the government.

Lack of child care facilities, with most schools offering partial in-person learning, as well as lingering fears of the virus and pandemic-related retirements are also believed to be contributing to the worker shortage, which curbed hiring in April. The government-funded benefits, part of the $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package, expire in early September and school districts are expected to resume in-person classes in the fall, which economists hope will boost the labor pool.

walmart

US consumer confidence holds steady

U.S. consumer confidence hovered at a 14-month high in May as optimism about job prospects tempered concerns about rising inflation and diminishing government financial support.

Though the survey from the Conference Board on Tuesday suggested the pace of economic growth remained robust in the second quarter, the recovery from the pandemic recession, which started in February 2020, is bumpy.

The housing market, one of the star performers, is showing signs of fatigue, with new single-family homes sales dropping in April amid a dearth of properties, which is boosting prices at the fastest pace in more than 15 years.

CORONAVIRUS STIMULUS CHECKS

Third stimulus check: how long will the payments be issued?

Third stimulus check: how long will the payments be issued?

The IRS has sent over ninety percent of the stimulus money budgeted for the third stimulus check to Americans since payments began in March.

bitcoin

Bitcoin up again

In cryptocurrencies, bitcoin was up 5%, rising above $40,000 in its third consecutive day of gains. Bitcoin climbed back above $40,000 on Wednesday for the first time this week, as recent volatility in the cryptocurrency market showed few signs of dampening down.

Bitcoin jumped as much as 6.5% to $40,904. Smaller coins, which tend to rise and fall with the largest cryptocurrency, also gained, with ether climbing over 7.5% to over $2,906. Still, bitcoin is down 30% this month, and has lost over 37% from its record high of almost $65,000 hit in April. It has gained over 40% this year, however.

dollar

Dollar languishes on Fed outlook

The dollar wallowed near a five-month trough against major peers on Wednesday as Federal Reserve insistence that stimulus will continue kept yields low, while surprisingly hawkish New Zealand central bank comments pushed the kiwi higher.

The euro traded just north of the key $1.2250 level -- holding gains from Tuesday when it pushed as high as $1.2266 for the first time since Jan. 8 -- as Europe's pandemic recovery gathers pace.

The dollar index, which gauges the greenback against six rivals, languished at 89.617 in Asia, after pushing as low as 89.533 on Tuesday.

AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN

Child and dependent care tax credit 2021: how to claim $8,000 or $16,000

Child and dependent care tax credit 2021: how to claim $8,000 or $16,000

The American Rescue Plan greatly expands the amount of expenses for child care, so that you can work, which you can write off on your 2021 tax return.

AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN

$3,000/$3,600 Child Tax Credit: what to know about the stimulus coming in 15 July

$3,000/$3,600 Child Tax Credit: what to know about the stimulus coming in 15 July

The IRS is preparing a new online portal where parents can choose whether to receive advance payments or hold off until they file taxes in 2022.

Full details

UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS

When are weekly unemployment benefits in Florida ending? Deadline and reason

When are weekly unemployment benefits in Florida ending? Deadline and reason

Florida is joining 22 other states in ending $300 weekly federal unemployment booster payments to encourage residents to fill job vacancies.

Learn more

Wuhan

Independent covid investigations being conducted

The US Senate and House of Representatives intelligence committees are conducting their own investigations into the origins of the covid-19 virus and how the U.S government responded to the crisis, two Congressional officials said. U.S. intelligence agencies are examining reports that researchers at a laboratory in Wuhan, China, were seriously ill in 2019 a month before the first covid-19 cases were reported.

airlines

US prepares for summer air travel spike

US airlines and agencies are preparing for increased domestic air travel this summer even as the government continues to debate whether to allow more foreign travellers to visit.

Shares in American Airlines, United Airlines and Delta Air Lines were sharply higher on Tuesday after top executives said that the pace of a leisure travel recovery was increasing.

US stimulus checks live updates: welcome

Welcome to our live US stimulus checks blog for Wednesday 26 May. We’ll be bringing you updates on a possible fourth direct payment and updates on the third stimulus check, which the IRS has been distributing since the $1.9tn American Rescue Plan was signed into law in early March.

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