60% of Americans Support Strict Restrictions on the Third Stimulus Check

by Christy Bieber | Updated July 25, 2021 - First published on Feb. 6, 2021

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A hand holding a small American flag and a stimulus check from the U.S. Treasury.

Image source: Getty Images

Americans don't want stimulus checks to go to everyone.

Democrats are moving forward with providing more coronavirus relief, and party leaders indicate they could begin the process of passing a bill through reconciliation as early as next week. This procedural process allows them to get a relief bill through with just 51 votes, so they wouldn't need any Republican support.

President Joe Biden's proposed stimulus plan contains many provisions, including an increase of the federal minimum wage as well as an expansion of unemployment benefits. But one of the most important and well-publicized is a third round of stimulus checks. These direct payments would be for $1,400, and would combine with the $600 authorized at the end of December to provide a total of $2,000 for recipients -- as former President Trump pushed for and Democrats wanted to deliver.

Some Republican and Democratic lawmakers, however, have expressed reservations about broadly authorizing another stimulus check -- especially one that could be available to families with incomes above $300,000.

And a recent poll conducted by Vox and Data for Progress reveals that Americans also don't want the next stimulus bill to go to (almost) everyone. A majority of likely voters surveyed would support several restrictions on who gets the next payment.

Americans support these limitations on eligibility for the third stimulus check

According to the recent poll, a full 60% of likely voters surveyed support a third direct payment. But the same number want to make sure Americans qualify based on income, with 60% saying the checks should be means-tested, and eligibility should phase out as earnings climb.

The first and second stimulus checks have income limits for eligibility -- single tax filers' check amounts decline at a rate of $5 per extra $100 earned over $75,000 in income, and married joint filers see the same decline once income hits $150,000. The third check is widely expected to maintain the same phase-out structure. But because the payment amount is higher, the phase-out structure means more Americans with higher income will receive at least some funds.

However, recent research suggests that households with income topping $75,000 tend to save their stimulus payments -- which means the money doesn't really help the economy as a whole and is likely going to people who don't really need it.

Means testing isn't the only restriction that receives broad support. Vox's poll also showed that 56% of likely voters oppose sending stimulus payments to undocumented immigrants. Prior stimulus checks haven't been available to the undocumented, although some Democrats believe all individuals who pay taxes should receive the funds, regardless of immigration status.

While these restrictions may sound like common sense to the majority of registered voters who want them, some experts point out that they come at a cost -- they slow down the speed at which payments can be delivered. Still, the IRS already has the infrastructure in place to determine household income, so this argument may not convince most people that the government should deposit checks into so many bank accounts, rather than employing a more restrictive rule for who gets the money.

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