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How many stimulus checks have been sent so far – and did you miss any?

Updated Oct 7th, 2021 4:02PM EDT
Stimulus checks
Image: Jason Raff/Adobe

When the idea was first publicly floated during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic last year, people likely didn’t know what to make of it immediately. Trump administration officials were talking about the possibility of issuing stimulus checks, direct cash payments to Americans, as a result of the pandemic that has devastated the economy. Even for those in favor of this, it sounded like a pretty dramatic response to the health crisis. And there was certainly no indication back in March 2020 that things would get so bad. Bad enough that wave after wave of stimulus checks would be needed.

Nevertheless, here we are. The IRS is still in the final throes of completing not a second but a third wave of stimulus payments. When the Biden administration took over in January, it looked at everything that had been done so far and stepped on the gas. In all, billions upon billions of stimulus dollars have flowed to Americans during the pandemic. Often, with few if any strings attached.

Stimulus checks since March 2020

biden debt ceiling crisis
President Joe Biden delivers an address to the nation. Image source: Chris Kleponis - Pool via CNP/MEGA

For some perspective into how extraordinary the federal COVID response has been, consider this. Since March of 2020, Americans have received an estimated 478 million direct cash payments from the federal government.

How we arrive at that figure is as follows. Based on data from the IRS, 160 million received a payment during the first stimulus check round, which started April 11, 2020. The Trump administration started sending out the second round of checks in December 2020. That tranche included around 147 million checks.

That takes us up to 307 million stimulus checks.

In July 2021, we learned from the IRS that another 171 million stimulus checks had been sent out. That brings us to 478 million. This batch was a result of the so-called “American Rescue Plan.” And it represented “a total value of more than $400 billion since these payments began rolling out to Americans in batches on March 12.”

The $1.9 trillion stimulus law

American Flag
An American flag in front of the deep blue sky. Image source: Design Pics/Keith Levit/Keith Levit/Newscom/The Mega Agency

The American Rescue Plan is the official name of that massive stimulus legislation enacted in March. It kicked the nation’s stimulus response into high gear.

Not only did it make the third round of payments possible. It also expanded the federal child tax credit, with Americans getting half of it this year as an advance payment. That advance will span six checks, which the IRS has started sending out monthly. All of which is to say, the 478 million figure we noted above is also a little incomplete.

It doesn’t, for example, take into account the child tax credit checks that are coming once a month through December. In all, those will give millions of families as much as $1,800 this year for each eligible child. And they’ll get the second half of the tax credit next year.

How many more have come this year?

What we have learned over the course of 2021 is how many stimulus checks have been issued and will be issued. If you were eligible, you would be getting direct deposits for stimulus checks since July. The dates for those payments were July 15, August 13, September 15, October 15, November 15, and December 15. Those are for parents who have children under the age of 17. They’ll receive $3,600 for each child under six and $3,000 for each child between the ages of six and 17.

These came about because of an expansion of the federal child tax credit program. It normally was $2,000 but because of the pandemic, the number got increased to $3,600. These are spread out over the span of those payment dates above. If you are eligible, you would’ve received three so far and will be receiving another in a week.

What about next year?

Depending on whether or not you had a child in 2021, you will be qualified for more money from the government. You will likely get $1,400 upon filing your 2022 taxes, according to Forbes and Insider. Not only will a $1,400 check come to new parents if they land in a certain income threshold, but there is also an expanded child tax credit that could come into effect. That means more money for you and your family just for expanding your family.

The payments that parents have received in 2021 and will continue to receive are actually advanced payments for 2022. There’s also a reason that you’ve only received half of the $3,600. That’s because Congress built into the stimulus package that parents would receive some now and some later. That later is in 2022. So you’ll be getting potentially $1,800 or $1,500 next year.

Is there hope for a fourth stimulus check?

Because the Democrats spread out the payments for the child tax credit, that may inhibit the opportunity to get a fourth stimulus check passed for the masses. But this also can depend on what state you live in. There are opportunities to get up to $3,000 if you live in certain states.

California has sent out Golden State stimulus checks for $600. Recipient households must earn between $30,000 to $75,000 to get the checks, and households with children can get an extra $500. Vermont is sending out reimbursement grants to frontline workers who move to the state. New Mexico is hooking up residents who may not have been eligible for the first three stimulus checks. Missouri took care of state corrections officers, boosting each of their salaries.

Those are just some of the states that are helping out residents. So consider which stimulus checks you’ve received and keep tabs on all that is being given out.

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.