Anyone who’s been following the political dynamics around the possibility of a new stimulus check to deal with the ongoing financial effects of the coronavirus pandemic, by now, probably understands how unlikely we are to get another stimulus check in the near future. Republicans tried hard to keep the last stimulus checks from coming to fruition, and the fact that President Biden as well as White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki haven’t said anything about a fourth round of stimulus payments certainly doesn’t bode well for anyone hoping for another check.
Here’s the thing, though. No, we’re probably not getting any more stimulus checks for the duration of the pandemic, at least as things stand now. But it’s also kind of a question of semantics because the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill that President Biden signed into law in early March also included more benefits for individuals, beyond the $1,400 stimulus checks that garnered an outsized share of attention. For example? So many people are about to get something even better than a one-time, $1,400 stimulus check — it’s a round of monthly payments that add up to $3,600 over the course of a year, with the new payments set to begin in July.
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That’s according to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig, who confirmed the timing of the monthly payments in recent days (that they will start in July). What they represent is an expansion of the federal tax credit, which previously amounted to $2,000 over the course of a year. These amounts are per child, by the way, and what’s interesting about the payments is the potential base of recipients herein — we’re talking about families, so there’s a huge population of people who can get these payments. And, in a way, they amount to new stimulus checks, too, it’s just that no one’s calling them that.
Put it this way: Let’s say President Biden could somehow convince enough members of Congress to rally behind the idea of a fourth stimulus payment. Odds are it wouldn’t be as big as the expanded child tax credit that families are about to start getting. All three of the previous stimulus checks were for amounts that are less than the expanded child tax credit. These new payments that start in July, in other words, are a big deal.
Here’s how eligibility for the expanded federal child tax credit payments breaks down: if you’re part of a married couple earning $150,000 in total or less, or are an individual making $75,000 or less, you’ll get $250 for each child between the ages of 6 and 17 from July through December for a total of $1,500 (6 months x $250). You’ll get $300 for each child under the age of 6. The balance of the $3,600 will come as a tax credit next year.
The reason Rettig was asked about and re-confirmed the start date for the new checks is that this is also, shall we say, a bit unusual for the tax agency. Everyone sort of understands that the IRS is basically a powerful collection agency, while this is something pretty different for the agency — turning it into yet another federal office distributing benefits on a regular basis.
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