How many stimulus checks have been sent since March 2020?

The IRS has been sending out direct payments to hundreds of millions of Americans since the start of the pandemic, but how many people have received the money so far?

How many stimulus checks have been sent since March 2020?

Throughout the pandemic the federal government has sought to get financial support out to individuals and businesses to help mitigate the damage that covid-19 has done to the American economy.

One of the most popular, and most expensive, programmes introduced in the last 18 months is the stimulus checks, which have provided a direct cash injection to help pay for essentials and revive the flailing economy.

In total, an enormous 478 million stimulus check payments have been sent out since the start of the pandemic.

First and second rounds of stimulus checks

The first and second rounds of stimulus payments were passed by former President Donald Trump, and were for a maximum of $1,200 and $600 respectively. After the swift passage of the CARES Act in March 2020 it took nine months for the second to be agreed and the emergency covid-19 relief bill was signed into law in late December.

Earlier this year the IRS confirmed that they had finished sending out payments as part of the first two rounds of stimulus checks, but confirmed that some may be able to retrospectively claim a Recovery Rebate Credit if their entitlement had changed since the initial payment.

The first round of stimulus check were sent out from 11 April 2020 and saw 160 million people receive a payment. The second, which was mostly distributed in the first half of January 2021, equated to 147 million stimulus checks.

IRS continues to distribute the third round of stimulus checks

Although the IRS had improved the distribution processed markedly since the first payments were made a year earlier, the third round of stimulus checks was complicated by the ongoing tax season. The IRS were in the middle of processing tax returns for 2020, which would eventually be used to judge entitlement for the new payment.

When the $1,400 stimulus checks were first sent out on 12 March 2021 millions of Americans had already filed their tax returns, meaning that their entitlement would be based on their 2020 income. However those who had not filed at that point would have had a payment based on the 2019 income, which was often considerably more.

This means that they could be due a supplementary ‘plus-up’ payment when the IRS processes their tax return. Given the IRS’ enormous workload this will take some time and they will continue to send out payments as part of the third round of stimulus checks for the rest of 2021.

On 21 July 2021 the tax agency sent out another 2.2 million payments, taking the total number sent out as part of the third round of stimulus checks to 171 million; the most of any round to date.