Fourth stimulus check news summary: Saturday 19 June 2021

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Fourth stimulus check live updates: can it be approved in June? $3,000/$3,600 Child Tax Credit, tax refund...

US Stimulus checks | live updates | 19 June 2021

Headlines:

- Fourth stimulus check linked to decrease in retail spending (Find out more

- Child Tax Credits: IRS launches new online portal to allow those who do not files taxes to claim the benefit

Dollar holds near one-month high with focus on Fed's inflation take

-Which organizations favor another round of stimulus checks? (Full details)

- Faster US wage rises will help entrench inflation

- IRS has confirmed that the monthly Child Tax Credit payments will begin on 15 July (Find out more)

$10 billion fund for homeowner stimulus checks (How to apply)

- White House announces Child Tax Credit Awareness Day for Monday 21 June

- Many US taxpayers still waiting for tax refund (find out more)

Louisiana announces it will end $300 unemployment compensation booster at the end of July, becoming the first Democrat -led state

- Twenty-five US states, all GOP-led, are ending supplementary unemployment insurance early (full story)

- You can track your third stimulus check by using the IRS' online Get My Payment tool

Have a read of some of our related news articles:

Tug of war over Massachusetts $5bn in stimulus money 

Republican Governor Charlie Baker rejected the Democrat-led state Legislature proposal to put the whole of the stimulus funds from the American Rescue Plan in an account state lawmakers control. Baker wants $2.3 billion at his disposal to spend on urgent matters to get the state’s economy back to full health right away. Lawmakers in the Legislature on the other hand want to spread the funds out over several years to study where the money will be needed most.

Child Tax Credit payments will not affect other benefits

The new-look Child Tax Credit is set to be introduced from next month but there is still some confusion about how the system will work. The overhauled programme will provide monthly payments worth up to $300 per child but some are concerned that it may affect their eligibility for other forms of federal support. 

The Intercept's Washington DC bureau chief confirms here that, because the Child Tax Credit payments are not considered a form of income, they will not be added to your adjusted gross income figure. This means they will not affect your ability to claim other benefits programmes. 

CHILD TAX CREDIT

Child Tax Credit for non-filers: how and when to sign up

After much anticipation the new Child Tax Credit programme is set to begin next month when the IRS begins sending the monthly payments on 15 July.

As was the case with the stimulus checks, eligibility for the federal support will largely be based on information provided in your most recent tax return. The payments will arrive automatically for most recipients but some low-income households may have to utilise the IRS’ new non-filer sign-up tool to ensure they get the payments.

Read more

CORONAVIRUS STIMULUS CHECKS

Fourth stimulus check: can the decrease in consumer spending impact its approval?

A new study has found evidence which suggests that the most recent round of direct payments had just a fleeting impact on the economy, bringing into question whether a fourth stimulus check would be an effective measure. 

New data from the Department of Commerce found that consumer spending in retail increased by almost 10% in March after the third round of stimulus checks were sent. However, spending levels declined in April and continued their downward trend even further in May to -1.3%. Here's how that may affect future stimulus check negotiations...

Read more

Could the next stimulus checks be automatic?

As the US looks to negotiate a tricky post-pandemic economic recovery there are growing calls for a system to be put in place ensure that support is available when needed. In the past each round of relief spending has been the results of Congressional negotiations, which can take months. 

To avoid that delay in future many lawmakers are in support of a system of "automatic stabilizers" which could provide a fourth stimulus check whenever certain criteria are met. If the recovery stalls or unemployment begins to rise the stabilizers would send out direct payments to give the economy a boost. 

Bipartisan infrastructure bill reveal on Monday 

Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii points to two major hurdles the bipartisan infrastructure deal will face from the Democrats. The Republicans are only proposing $500 billion in new spending, a far cry from the at least $1 trillion President Biden is willing to settle for. The other issue is with how to pay for it? Democrats want to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans and corporations so they pay their fair share.

These and other shortcomings of the deal in the eyes of progressives are increasing calls for the Democratic caucus to go it alone using reconciliation.

UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS

$300 pandemic unemployment benefits: which Democratic states have ended the payment?

More than half of all states have announced that they will cancel the additional jobless payments before the original deadline, denying residents vital support.

Louisiana has become the latest state to announce that they will remove the $300-a-week additional unemployment benefits payments, becoming the first Democrat-led state to do so.

Full details

Will President Biden’s agenda get bogged down by congressional gridlock? 

President Biden came sprinting out of the gates but his infrastructure bill has hit a brick wall. A bipartisan group of 20 Senators hashed out an alternative to the White House $2 trillion proposal at less than half the price. The President and Democrats want to get the infrastructure bill passed before the summer recess in August so they can tackle the American Families Plan and the 2022 budget before the end of the year. Sarah Binder of George Washington University talks with The Economist on how congressional logjam has become the norm.

FOURTH STIMULUS CHECK

When could there be a new stimulus payment according to the experts?

The three rounds of stimulus checks that have been sent out over the past year provided substantial financial and mental relief to Americans struggling through the economic crisis brought on by the covid-19 pandemic according to a recent analysis.

Research performed by Luke Shaefer and Patrick Cooney for Poverty Solutions at the University of Michigan looked at data collected by the US Census Bureau in its Household Pulse Survey. The findings stoked renewed calls for programs to put money directly into the pockets of Americans.

Read more

The nation needs a bipartisan infrastructure deal 

The Washington Post Editorial Board argues that the nation is in desperate need of bipartisan deal to show that US democracy can work and the nation could benefit from the investment. In their opinion President Biden should back the deal but he would be right to ask for taxes on corporations be raised but shouldn’t give in to demands not to adjust the gas tax that hasn’t changed since 1993. 

To read more of their opinion click here

Study of stimulus checks impact renews calls for more of them

A recent Poverty Solutions study from the University of Michigan, using the data collected in the US Census Bureau's Household Pulse Survey over the past year, examined the impacts the three Economic Impact Payments, or better known as stimulus checks, sent by Congress and found that the additional income helped many keep food on the table and a roof over their head. This in turn reduced anxiety and depression with the most profound effects among low-income households.

Progressive lawmakers hailed the findings and renewed their calls for additional payments to Americans.

Janet Yellen backs Biden’s $4 trillion investment plan 

In her opening statement before the Senate Finance Committee US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen gave her endorsement to President Biden’s Budget which includes the American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan. Yellen said of that remaining $4 trillion investment will reverse decades of underinvestment creating destructive forces blocking tens of millions of Americans from the prosperous parts of our economy. 

“The Budget, which includes both the American Jobs and Families Plans, will repair the fractured foundations of our economy,” Yellen said. “We need to make these investments at some point, and now is fiscally the most strategic time to make them.” Adding  “There are some tough trade-offs in fiscal policy, but this – a fairer tax code for a structurally sound economy – is not one of them.” 

CORONAVIRUS US

California vaccine lottery: how to participate in July 1st Dream Vacation contest?

The winners for the $1.5 million grand prizes in California’s vaccine lottery were announced on Tuesday, but there are still more prizes to claim.

2021 CHILD TAX CREDIT

IRS tool for Child Tax Credit: link and how to use it

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced on Monday that it has brought back the Non-Filer tool that was first created last year to help taxpayers who don’t normally report income claim their $1,200 stimulus check. The updated version will allow those who still haven’t filed a tax return or used the tool before, to register for the 2021 Child Tax Credit and obtain any stimulus money they haven’t received yet.

The IRS created the tool in conjunction with Intuit as part of the Free File Alliance is designed for people who don’t have enough income to be required to file an income tax return. Through the tool individuals and families who have little or no income will be able to provide the IRS with the basic data necessary to calculate and issue their advance payments on the 2021 Child Tax Credit such as name, address, and Social Security numbers.

Full details

CORONAVIRUS STIMULUS CHECKS

Fourth stimulus check: could the next payments be automatic?

Many lessons have been learned from the covid-19 pandemic-induced economic crisis. One that direct payments were beneficial to many American households and kept the economy from completely tanking. Another that our unemployment system is outdated for the 21st Century.

Congressional Democrats have been pushing the White House to extend stimulus checks and unemployment compensation programs until the end of the pandemic. President Biden hasn’t spoken directly about where he stands only that he is open to ideas for how to move forward.

Read more

Wealthy megadonors received $1,400 stimulus checks 

All three stimulus checks that the federal government sent out over the past year have had income thresholds above which payments would phase out to zero. In the third round of stimulus checks, individuals with incomes over $80,000 were not supposed to receive any stimulus money.

However, the Washington Free Beacon reports that two GOP megadonors were surprised to find $1,400 deposited in their bank accounts from the IRS from the third round of Economic Impact Payments. The report does mention a ProPublica report on just how little some of the wealthiest Americans pay in taxes compared to their vast fortunes.

UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS

California unemployment benefits: is job hunting proof required to apply for aid?

California Employment Development Department announced on Thursday that the state will require those claiming benefits to prove they are seeking work.

California ended the majority of restrictions put in place to stem the tide of the covid-19 pandemic in the state 15 June. Now as the economy gets back on its feet the state’s Employment Development Department on 11 July 2021 will reinstate requirements for Californians receiving unemployment benefits to be actively job hunting.

Find out what the new requirements are

AOC

AOC criticizes bipartisan infrastructure package

Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has claimed that the bipartisan infrastructure package currently being crafted by a bipartisan group of 21 senators would likely offer little support to poor communities.

“Usually . . . when these bipartisan deals come together, they tend to underserve the communities that are already underserved,” Ocasio-Cortez told MSNBC.

“Not only do those communities get left behind and cut out in these bipartisan deals, but corporate interests gets centered in these deals, as well.”

559,000 jobs added last month in US

The United States added 559,000 jobs last month as some of the hardest hit sectors continued to rehire workers who were let go during the height of the pandemic. However, analysts have warned that covid-19 was continuing to have a large negative impact on the economy despite massive stimulus program aimed at bolstering the economy.

The jobs added in May pushed the unemployment rate down to 5.8 percent from 6.1 percent in April.

"Job growth remains surprisingly sluggish in an economy that is no longer facing capacity constraints," said Rubeela Farooqi of High Frequency Economics in an analysis, adding, "Ongoing pandemic-related issues including childcare and health concerns are likely a constraint on job growth."

CORONAVIRUS STIMULUS CHECKS

New research shows how the stimulus aid was spent and how it helped families

The coronavirus pandemic caused upheaval in the lives of Americans from coast to coast, and around the world. The US Census Bureau was in a unique position to collect data on the effect of the pandemic on American households through its Household Plus Survey.

The US Census Bureau produced the data in collaboration with other federal agencies to aid state and federal authorities in near real-time with the response that was needed and planning for the recovery. 

A recent analysis sheds light on the data

Fiscal stimulus as percentage of GDP: US in second place

Combined, Donald Trump and Joe Biden's respective stimulus packages have cost a massive $5 trillion, which equates to 27.09% of GDP. During the coronavirus pandemic, only Japan has spent more on stimulus as a percentage of GDP. The US is in second, ahead of Singapore, Slovenia and Guyana.

Child Tax Credits: IRS launches new online portal

The IRS launched a new online portal that allows individuals and households that don’t file tax returns to claim monthly $3,000/$3,600 child tax credits created under March’s pandemic relief and stimulus law.

The IRS will pay half the total credit amount in advance monthly payments, with the first advance payments set to be sent out on July 15, 2021.

Check it out here.

60% of voters support Biden's infrastructure package

A Monmouth poll has found that 60% of voters support Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus law, while 38% of Republicans are in favor of the bill. In April, the poll found the overall figure to be 63%.

Labor lawsuit filed in Indiana over government ending federal unemployment benefits 

Indiana workers are suing their government over claims that the state ending federal pandemic-related insurance program violates the law. CNN reports, that the suit filed by "Indiana Legal Services and a private employment law firm argue that the move violates a state law that requires Indiana to "procure all available federal insurance benefits to citizens," according to the firms." 

Senator Elizabeth Warren threw her support behind the workers on Twitter saying, "Families are trying to get back on their feet. But Republican governors are knocking them down—taking money out of their pockets while they look for jobs or struggle to find child care so they can get back to work. It’s appalling." 

Biden

Biden objects to raising gas tax to pay for infrastructure

The White House has stated that President Joe Biden is against raising the federal gasoline at the rate of inflation tax to help fund the infrastructure package currently being put together by a bipartisan group of 21 senators.

Money from the proposed gas tax increase had initially been earmarked for the previous infrastructure package that called for $579 billion in new spending on roads, bridges, rail and public transit. However, the White House said Biden is intent on not raising taxes on working and middle class Americans.

“The President has been clear throughout these negotiations: He is adamantly opposed to raising taxes on people making less than $400,000 a year,” White House spokesman Andrew Bates said. “After the extraordinarily hard times that ordinary Americans endured in 2020 — job losses, shrinking incomes, squeezed budgets — he is simply not going to allow Congress to raise taxes on those who suffered the most.”

Stimulus checks intercepted for debt collection

Across the state, many of California’s low-income parents behind on government-collected child support payments saw their $1,200 checks that went out in the spring of 2020, along with enhanced unemployment benefits, intercepted last year. California responded with a good-faith effort to halt garnishments on the second and third rounds of stimulus checks. Department of Child Support Services Director David Kilgore said the state prioritized families by passing stimulus funds to custodial parents. 

Still, records reviewed by CalMatters and The Salinas Californian showed the state kept a record $430 million last year, a 16% increase from the prior year, essentially taking from one government pot to pay back another. 

Parents saddled with child support debt told CalMatters they never saw their stimulus checks and federally funded $600 unemployment checks –– and the money didn’t always go to their kids, either.

Kate Cimini reports.

Bipartisan deal on infrastructure best way forward 

Bloomberg senior editor David Shipley opines that going it alone on the infrastructure bill could be self-defeating for Democrats. Although progressives who are pressing to go forward using reconciliation, whereby their infrastructure plans could be passed along party lines avoid a filibuster, they might undermine their own goals for a short-term gain. By taking the bipartisan deal on the table they could achieve more long-term goals and restore America’s infrastructure.

Stimulus checks live updates: welcome

Hello and welcome to our live stimulus checks blog for today, Friday 19 June 2021. We'll be bringing you updates on a possible fourth direct payment, in addition to information on the third round of checks, which has seen around $395 billion go out to eligible people in the US.

We'll also be providing news on other economic-aid schemes such as the expanded Child Tax Credit, which will see monthly payments of up to $300 distributed to qualifying households.

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