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Stimulus check update: Millions of people still eligible for a federal payment

Published Oct 13th, 2022 7:10PM EDT
stimulus check
Image: Andy Dean/Adobe

Inflation might have soared to a 40-year high, and a panicky Federal Reserve may be set to keep jacking up interest rates — but the federal government still seems to have every intention of sending out more stimulus checks to “millions” of Americans.

That’s according to US Government Accountability Office, which has just put out a new estimate that as many as 9-10 million people might still be eligible for federal stimulus payments (based on IRS and Treasury data).

9-10 million Americans still eligible for stimulus checks

“Part of the challenge for the IRS and Treasury in 2020,” the new GAO report explains, “was they only had data on taxpayers that had previously filed taxes.

“Since a broader set of families were eligible for the COVID-19 stimulus payments and the expanded (child tax credit), Treasury and IRS reached out to around 9 million Americans to let them know they were eligible for the relief payments. In May 2021, the Treasury Inspector General identified potentially 10 million individuals eligible for payments. As of June, IRS had no plans to conduct additional outreach.”

READ MORE: $9.5 billion in middle-class tax refund payments are about to go out in one state

The news that the federal government wants to track down millions of Americans so it can send out more stimulus checks comes as individual states have also been taking similar actions, on their own. Especially in the face of soaring inflation, with a state like California sending out a wave of payments right now — payments that it’s styled alternately as a middle-class tax refund and as an infusion of cash meant to help recipients absorb some of the pain of inflation.

Those checks are going out through November 14, and the payments will range from $400 to $1,050 for couples who file joint tax returns (and from $200 to $700 for individuals, depending on their income and whether they can claim a dependent). The wave that ends on November 14 will come in the form of direct deposits, while an estimated 10 million prepaid debit cards are also going out from October 25 through January 15.

You get a check, and you get a check

Meanwhile, here’s what the federal government says eligible Americans should do to receive any outstanding stimulus payment:

Since tax returns were used to determine eligibility in the initial waves, “Individuals with little or no income, and therefore not required to pay taxes, have until November 15 to complete a simplified tax return to get their payments. Taxpayers who missed the April 15 deadline have until October 17.

“These IRS pages, and, have more information on how to complete and submit a tax return.”

stimulus check with cash
Cash is shown on top of a stimulus check. Image source: pixelrobot/Adobe

As a reminder, between April 2020 and December 2021, the federal government sent out direct COVID-19 stimulus payments to individuals totaling $931 billion. In all, Congress authorized three rounds of stimulus payments, benefitting about 165 million eligible Americans. “Generally,” the GAO adds, “US citizens with income below $75,000 or married couples with an income below $150,000 were eligible for all three payments and the full amount of each payment.”

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.