The likelihood that a fourth round of direct federal stimulus payments will come to pass remains quite low. Over the course of the federal government’s three rounds of direct stimulus payments, which saw the distribution of payments worth $1,200, $600, and $1,400, respectively, the IRS has sent out some 472 million payments with a total value of over $800 billion. In just the third round of payments alone, the IRS has so far distributed over 165 million payments totaling roughly $388 billion.
It now appears as though the campaign to distribute these stimulus payments is approaching its end, with the IRS having recently shifted its focus to sending payments out to those Americans whose eligibility for payments is dependent on the processing of their 2020 tax returns. This includes both those people about whom the IRS did not have sufficient information prior to the processing of their 2020 returns, as well as those people eligible for supplemental payments that the IRS refers to as “plus-up” payments.
As the distribution of stimulus payments winds down, many people are increasingly calling for a further round of payments or even for regular recurring payments sent out each month. A number of online petitions, the largest of which includes over two million signatures, have been circulating calling for such payments.
A number of members of Congress have also been advocating for additional or recurring stimulus payments, with seven Democratic members of the House Ways and Means Committee recently sending a letter to President Joe Biden calling on him to include such payments in his proposed American Families Plan. This follows a similar letter sent by 21 Democrats in the Senate urging the President to push for recurring payments and an earlier letter from Democratic members of the House of Representatives similarly calling for recurring payments.
Even with all of this support among both members of Congress and the American public, it does not appear likely that the Biden administration will push for either a fourth round of payments or recurring payments. The administration has indicated that such measures will be left up to Congress, and both Democratic and Republican leadership in Congress have so far failed to demonstrate any intention of pushing for additional payments.
Instead, the Biden administration will likely focus on generating support for the American Families Plan and the American Jobs Plan, its two proposed tax and spending bills. The plans do not include additional stimulus payments, but would instead focus on providing in-direct support for many Americans.
Those hoping for some form of direct payments may still be in luck, however, with advance payments as part of the expanded child tax credit set to begin in July. Payments originating with states may also be possible in the future, with $350 billion in funding available to state and local governments through the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds. The federal government recently promulgated guidelines regarding how the funds can be used, and indicated that one such use could be direct stimulus payments in the same mold as those sent out by the federal government.
Eli Fuhrman is a contributing writer for The National Interest.
Fourth Stimulus Payment? Here Is What We Know Right Now. is written by Eli Fuhrman for nationalinterest.org