Apple AirTags Oculus Quest game event and Star Wars Google Doodle for Earth Day Apple Watch's Earth Day stickers Student loan forgiveness Stimulus check updates

4th stimulus check? How more payments could be coming in 2021

The IRS is working on sending out more stimulus payments this week, but Washington lawmakers are looking for ways to release more payments this year and into 2022. Here's how we may see more money.

Listen
- 04:24
023-cash-money-third-stimulus-checks-biden-federal-unemployment-1400-300-payments

Will Congress sign off on a fourth stimulus check? There's a chance.

Sarah Tew/CNET

More stimulus payments are headed out this week -- and that includes the "plus-up payments" for those who are eligible for more money. But with most of the third checks out, Congress is looking ahead for ways to help struggling people by sending out more money between this year and next. One idea that's surfaced is a fourth stimulus check that would send more checks to those most in need, once the $1,400 payments are complete.

In March, a group of 10 progressive senators, including Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, asked President Joe Biden to include regular stimulus payments (PDF) in his next stimulus bill: "We urge you to include recurring direct payments and automatic unemployment insurance extensions tied to economic conditions in your Build Back Better long-term economic plan." A few weeks later, another group of 21 Democrats made a similar request to Biden.

The current stimulus check will help the economy to grow rapidly, yet unevenly, economists say, with some cities projected to hurt for "decades," even with COVID-19 vaccinations on the upswing and the US economy showing glimmers of hope. Would more direct payments arrive in a different form, as something other than a "stimulus check"? We spell out some possibilities below. If you're waiting for your third stimulus check, here's how to track your payment and here's how to contact the IRS with a problem. Also here's how to calculate your child tax credit. This story is frequently updated.

The next economic relief bill is in the works. Will it contain a fourth check?

Biden's American Rescue Plan that passed in March is the first spending package in 2021, with $1,400 checks$300 extra in weekly unemployment benefits and an expanded child tax credit lined up (see if you qualify for the recurring child tax credit payments). The Biden administration is working on a sequel, a package the president refers to as the Build Back Better plan. That proposal aims to invest in the nation's energy grid, transportation, broadband and water systems and may not include stimulus checks, despite the urging of progressive senators (PDF).

(Note: There's some debate over what counts as a "relief," "rescue" or "stimulus" package. For the purpose of this article, "stimulus" refers to any funding, check or measure in response to the coronavirus pandemic or to inject money into the US economy.)

Now playing: Watch this: Stimulus check 3: How much money you'll get
2:32

The new 'stimulus payment' could take a different form

The American Rescue Plan doesn't authorize just one direct payment. It contains three checks designed to help struggling individuals and families. It's possible a future bill could extend or introduce more money through direct checks that go to specific groups of recipients, including parents who earn below a certain income or people out of work.

Here are the three types of direct checks approved in the March 2021 bill:

012-cash-money-third-stimulus-checks-biden-federal-unemployment-1400-300-payments

Congress has already approved a variety of aid this year.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Additional ways Congress could send a direct payment later this year

Approve recurring payments: Biden's infrastructure bill is the next likely place for Congress to provide more funding. This is where Democratic Senators are calling on Biden to push for recurring stimulus checks during the pandemic.

Pass a minimum wage hike: Senators continue to look for ways to boost the federal minimum wage, which currently stands at $7.25 per hour. Sens. Mitt Romney and Kyrsten Sinema are the latest to pitch a hike. Some proponents want to set the bar at a $15 hourly wage but others are looking to go to $11 an hour. "If any senator believes this is the last time they will cast a vote on whether or not to give a raise to 32 million Americans, they are sorely mistaken," Sanders tweeted on March 5. A February report from the Brookings Institute models how a $15 minimum wage could help make 37% of US households financially self-sufficient.

Make the child tax credit raise permanent: Money from the expanded child tax credit is set to start in July, sending periodic payments to lower-income and middle-income families with children. According to White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, Biden wants to make the child tax credit permanent. Others, including Republican Sen. Mitt Romney, also support making the credit permanent since it will lift millions of children in the US out of poverty.

Renew federal unemployment payments beyond September: Along with recurring payments, the 10 Democratic senators in their letter to Biden requested he also extend federal unemployment assistance beyond September.

Here are all the ways the American Rescue Plan can help you, how much money you could expect in the third check and how to track your stimulus payment.