Is a fourth stimulus check coming for you? - Paycheck

Is a fourth stimulus check coming for you?

To date, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has issued three stimulus checks to citizens: in March $1,400 from the American Rescue Plan; $600 as a December relief measure; and $1,200 in March 2020 as part of the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act. But if some lawmakers in Congress get their way, you might get a fourth check, too. And more.

            At the end of March, a group of 21 senators sent President Joe Biden a letter requesting recurring direct payments and enhanced unemployment insurance for millions of families. The senators, led by Senate Finance Chair Ron Wyden, pointed out that these two forms of aid to American families “are among the most effective forms of relief available.” The letter cites that these two actions will keep families out of poverty and will stimulate the economy by increasing spending and supporting jobs.

            These senators point to the cliff looming ahead for many Americans. On September 6, unemployment insurance extensions expire. With COVID-19 cases now rising again across the country and vaccination rates almost at a standstill, the pandemic is far from over.

            The idea has found favor. Overall, 65% of Americans support recurring cash payments for the duration of the pandemic. The poll the letter cites found 54% of Republicans and 60% of independents in favor of recurring payments. Economists have also come on board. Over 150 economists wrote an open letter supporting automatic payments as “stabilizers.” They said in the letter that such stabilizers promote a strong economic recovery.

            To back up the call for these actions, a petition created by Stephanie Bonin asking for $2,000 monthly stimulus checks has circulated on Change.org. On July 6, Newsweek reported that the petition had garnered over 2.5 million signatures making it one of the most-signed petitions on the site. Bonin had firsthand experience weathering the unexpected during the pandemic shutdown when she had to close her Denver restaurant and lost her family’s source of income.

            While grateful for the stimulus checks, Bonin knew that families in her situation and other similar situations needed regular help. She thinks consistent payments would help families plan and budget more easily, and weather the pandemic more easily.

            CBS Money Watch reported on July 7 that a quarter of Americans struggled to pay household expenses in the previous week. The unemployment rate now stands at 5.9%, higher than the 3.5% pre-pandemic. Four in 10 Americans continue to experience loss of income compared with pre-pandemic times. That means that Bonin is right; those 3 previous checks won’t stretch very far for many families.

            CBS also reported that people who most needed the stimulus checks put the money immediately to use for mortgage payments, rent, car payments, and utilities. In a statement to CBS Money Watch, Jamie Pontia of Pittsburgh said she’s grateful for the $1,400 check.

            “…[W]ithout it I would be drowning. It’ll just help me keep my head above water for a month.”

            If the government acts to extend unemployment insurance and make regular cash payments to struggling Americans, Jamie will be able to do more than just keep her head above water. And so will millions of others.

Georgia Beaverson

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