Stimulus Update: 3 Things That Could Take the Place of a Fourth Stimulus Check

by Maurie Backman | Published on Nov. 3, 2021

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A fourth stimulus check is looking less likely, but these income sources could help compensate.


Key points

  • Many Americans are still holding out hope for a fourth stimulus check.
  • While a follow-up stimulus round is unlikely in the near term, Americans can snag extra money in the form of tax credits or a side job.

The fact that the U.S. economy has improved to the point where a fourth stimulus check is unlikely is actually a good thing. But many people don't see it that way.

It's easy to overlook the fact that while some people's finances actually improved during the pandemic due to spending less but not earning less, others struggled immensely with income loss and racked up scores of debt in the process. And it's people in that latter group that may have really been counting on seeing a fourth stimulus payment hit their bank accounts.

But while a fourth stimulus check may not be happening anytime soon, that doesn't mean Americans don't have options for getting their hands on more money. Here are three things that could take the place of a follow-up stimulus round.

1. The boosted Child Tax Credit

This year, the Child Tax Credit is worth up to $3,600 for children under age 6 and up to $3,000 for those aged 6 to 17. Previously, it was only worth $2,000.

Half of the credit is being paid in the form of monthly installments that started in July and will continue through December. The credit is also fully refundable, so if a recipient owes no tax, they can still get all of their money.

Lawmakers are fighting to keep the boosted version of the Child Tax Credit around for one more year, and if they get their way, a higher credit in 2022 could help make up for an absent stimulus check. Furthermore, lawmakers are working to keep the fully-refundable nature of the credit permanent. Previously, only a portion of it was refundable.

2. The enhanced Earned Income Tax Credit

Just like the Child Tax Credit saw its value go up, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), a credit designed for lower earners, was also boosted this year. Now, lawmakers are fighting to keep the boosted version around for another year.

In addition to being worth more money, the EITC is now also available to more people thanks to temporary changes in eligibility. And the credit is also fully refundable -- though it's worth noting that that's always been the case.

3. A side job

You may not be eligible for the Child Tax Credit or EITC, but that doesn't mean you're out of options for getting a bonus payday. While you can't count on a stimulus check, you can boost your income by getting a side job. These days, many companies are looking to hire, especially in line with the holiday rush. And if you're able and willing to put in the time, you might earn more money than a fourth stimulus check would've paid you.

While it may be disappointing to have to write off a fourth stimulus check in the near term, the reasons behind that are good ones. And if lawmakers get their way, two important tax credits will continue to be worth more money in 2022 despite having initially been boosted for 2021 only.

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