If you haven’t already heard, several organizations of a major petition on Change.org have been calling for $2,000 monthly payments for adults and $1,000 per child since last year. The petition, which is already one of change.org’s most-signed efforts, has now topped 3 million signatures with a new goal of 4.5 million names. The petition was first established by Stephanie Bonin, a Denver restaurant owner who said the money was needed as the country was “deeply struggling”. The recovery hasn’t reached many Americans. In fact, the true unemployment rate for low-wage workers is estimated at over 20% with many people facing large debts from last year for things like utilities, rent and childcare. These are all reasons that checks need to be targeted for people who are still struggling and that Congress needs to learn from this past year. It took nine months for Congress to send a second stimulus check, and just moments to spend it.
Moving forward, Congress needs to make recurring checks automatic if certain triggers are met. There have been three previous rounds of direct stimulus checks: $1,200 in March 2020, $600 in December 2020 and $1,400 in March 2021. The expanded child tax credit provided up to an additional $300 a month, but those payments have since expired, back in December of 2021. Since then, Congress hasn’t shown any interest in another round of payments. In fact, President Biden’s stalled Build Back Better plan, focuses on infrastructure and does not even address anything related to additional direct stimulus checks. In other words, the check isn’t in the mail. And petition aside, it likely won’t be. Despite speculation that a fourth stimulus check could be around the corner, there remains no sign that the federal government has any interest in making further direct payments to American taxpayers.
With Democrats unable to pass their landmark Build Back Better and “voting rights” legislation, there has been no indication of a new package designed to deliver a fourth direct payment. Some legislators, however, have argued strongly in favor of extending the enhanced child tax credit for an additional year, a measure opposed greatly by moderate Democratic Senator Joe Manchin. New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez also clapped back recently at moderate Democratic Senator Kirsten Sinema for her refusal to toe the party line and to pass Build Back Better. Ocasio-Cortez called on Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer last week to make Sinema’s life “as difficult as possible”. So is a fourth stimulus check just fake news? Some false reports shared on social media have wrongly claimed that stimulus checks are just around the corner, with one viral Facebook post claiming that $2,000 payments will be deposited directly into bank accounts on February 9th.Several other YouTube channels, aiming to capitalize on these false reports, mention the same thing. Other posts have even claimed that many Americans are eligible for a further $1,400 in 2022. These claims are unfortunately also inaccurate.
So now that we’ve ruled that out, what is going to be on the table? Well, there are legitimately two ways in which taxpayers may receive economic stimulus checks in 2022. Parents of children born in the 2021 calendar year may be eligible for an additional $1,400 in direct payment from the government this year. To receive the payment, parents must be making no more than $75,000 per year. Additionally, couples filing taxes jointly are eligible if their combined income is less than $150,000. Moreover, parents who received monthly child tax credit payments last year can also expect a lump sum payment, for the remaining six months of child tax credit payments, distributed under the American Rescue Plan. Keep in mind that in order to receive these remaining payments, parents must file their 2021 taxes this tax season.
So what about California, who provided stimulus checks ranging from $500 to $1100 to eligible Americans last year? With further Federal stimulus checks effectively off the table, some state legislators are pushing for direct payments paid out from state budgets. In fact, after California revealed a projected $45.7 billion budget surplus in January, one state senator argued that the surplus could be used to pay $1,125 to every taxpayer, or $4,500 for a family of four people.