What's the Status of 2021 Stimulus Checks?

by Christy Bieber | Published on Aug. 29, 2021

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Could Americans see more stimulus money?

The American Rescue Plan Act was signed into law in March and authorized a third stimulus check. This was a follow-up to two prior direct payments made under the Trump Administration. It was the first stimulus check provided by President Joe Biden, and it was the largest check to date, worth up to $1,400 per adult and dependent.

The IRS was charged with the task of sending out these stimulus payments, and most of them have been distributed already. But the agency is still sending checks well into the summer of 2021. Some Americans, in other words, are still waiting for either their full payment or part of it.

For those who have already received their money, it remains an open question whether another stimulus check will be authorized this year or if they are done receiving stimulus checks in 2021.

The IRS is still sending out 2021 stimulus checks

Although the IRS began sending out checks months ago, there are still many more direct deposits going out and payments being mailed.

In fact, as recently as July 21, 2021, the IRS announced it had distributed another $2.2 million in stimulus payments (referred to as Economic Impact Payments). This money went to people who hadn't gotten any payments before, as well as to people owed "plus-up" payments. Plus-up payments are additional stimulus checks for people who had received less than the full amount due in their first payment.

The IRS is still distributing payments into people's bank accounts because it is working through a backlog of 2020 tax returns.

The agency uses tax return data to determine who is entitled to a payment and what amount each person or family is owed. If a taxpayer has a new dependent they informed the IRS about on their 2020 return or if their income fell compared with the prior tax year, this could potentially entitle them to a plus-up payment. On the other hand, if someone filed taxes for the first time recently, their 2020 return may have been the first one to offer the IRS the information it needed to issue any payment at all.

The IRS has indicated the COVID-19 pandemic has caused delays in processing 2020 returns. So until the agency has worked through the entire backlog, stimulus checks will continue to be issued when tax returns reveal they are owed.

Will more checks be sent in 2021?

For those who already received their entire stimulus payment due under the American Rescue Plan Act, it's currently unlikely a fourth check could be coming.

Under current economic conditions, a fourth check isn't likely because there's no bipartisan support for it. Democrats would have to try to pass it on party lines through a procedural process called reconciliation, which can only be used a limited number of times. With lawmakers on the left focused on using reconciliation to pass infrastructure legislation, another stimulus bill probably will not happen.

However, if the Delta variant continues to spread and mitigation measures such as lockdowns become necessary, lawmakers would likely have to act to issue another stimulus check. When the first lockdowns occurred in March of 2020, Republicans and Democrats came together to quickly provide relief because lawmakers knew they couldn't ask Americans to stay home without giving them help paying their bills.

But, unless the worst-case scenario happens, the only people who will get a stimulus check during the rest of 2021 are those who are still waiting for the payments due from prior relief bills.

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