To help with COVID-19, the federal government gave out $931 billion in direct stimulus checks to people. But it was hard for the IRS and the Treasury to get some people their payments.
We found that people who don’t have to file tax returns, people who were filing for the first time, families with mixed immigrant status, and people who were homeless were more likely to have trouble getting their stimulus checks on time.
We suggested that Treasury and the IRS change how they reach out to people to let them know that they are eligible for these payments.
The COVID-19 pandemic caused a lot of financial stress, so in 2020 and 2021, the IRS and Treasury gave $931 billion to people in the form of direct stimulus checks. But some Americans who were eligible for payments never got them. We suggested ways to improve how the IRS and Treasury reach out to people and talk to them about tax credits like the Earned Income Tax Credit, which are worth billions of dollars.
Big Picture Of The Stimulus Checks
From April 2020 to December 2021, the federal government paid $931 billion directly to people to ease the financial stress caused by the pandemic. The CARES Act, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (Public Laws 116-136, 116-260, and 117-2, respectively) gave permission for three rounds of Economic Impact Payments (EIPs) that went to about 165 million Americans.
The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 also made the Child Tax Credit (CTC) available to more families and raised the amount of the credit for a short time. From July to December 2021, eligible families got half of their expected CTC in advance each month. This helped about 84% of children in the US.
Survey data looked at by the Census Bureau and the Federal Reserve showed that the EIPs and advance CTC payments made it easier for recipients to pay their bills and get enough food. These payments to people because of the pandemic were much bigger than any other stimulus payments to people in recent history.