Some headlines out there are teasing a possible fourth stimulus check and — in some rare instances — a fifth payment. But make no mistake, another round of direct relief anytime soon isn't likely.
A fourth stimulus check is not included in the president’s infrastructure plan — the next legislation the administration is trying to pass through Congress — even though some Democratic lawmakers have called for recurring payments and others have asked for automatic economic triggers for future direct payments.
Any effort to issue a fourth round of stimulus payments would likely meet resistance from the GOP, too.
All Republican House and Senate members voted against President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Act that included the third round of stimulus checks, and now some Republicans are criticizing other government support as the economy opens up.
So far, the Internal Revenue Service has distributed over 165 million payments for the third round of stimulus checks and continues to issue the last of the payments to a small number of taxpayers. The third round of direct payments includes $1,400 per eligible individual plus a $1,400 bonus per dependent.
Some Americans may indeed receive a fourth direct payment from the federal government, but it’s not a fourth round of stimulus checks. These are “plus-up” payments for Americans who did not receive the full amount they were entitled to for the third round based on their 2020 income.
“Plus-up" payments go to people who had their third stimulus check calculated based on their 2019 tax return but are now eligible for a bigger payment. This could be the case for people whose 2020 income was lower than their 2019 income or who had a baby or a dependent added to their 2020 return.
Some Americans also will get monthly payments from July to December as part of the expanded Child Tax Credit, which also was included in the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan.
The maximum taxpayers can claim for the credit in 2021 is $3,600 for children under 6 and $3,000 for children between 6 and 17. Eligible households will receive half of their total payments in advance over the next six months beginning in July and ending in December. The monthly payments will be $250 for older children and $300 for children under 6.
Households of approximately 65 million children — or 88% of U.S. kids — will be eligible for the payments, according to the Treasury Department.
Another government payment that some taxpayers may expect is an additional tax refund. Taxpayers who received unemployment benefits in 2020 and filed their returns before the passage American Rescue Plan will receive two tax refunds. The first reflects how they filed and the second refund will reflect any tax break they get on their unemployment benefits. Under the $1.9 trillion legislation, the first $10,200 in unemployment benefits aren't taxed for eligible filers.