So far this year, since the passage of the $1.9 trillion stimulus law in March, the IRS has issued more than 169 million stimulus checks to Americans. An additional 2.3 million people last month got one of the third stimulus checks, for $1,400. That brought the total amount of stimulus check money Americans have received since the crisis began to $3,200. Americans got two checks under President Trump, for $1,200 and $600, plus President Biden’s $1,400 check. Meanwhile, here’s where things stand, as far as a fourth stimulus check update.

Some politicians and national leaders continue to call for this. Since, of course, the financial situation of millions of Americans remains precarious thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. According to the credit reporting agency TransUnion, for example, around 4 in 10 people say their income is still below its pre-pandemic level.

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Fourth stimulus check update

The question, though, is how realistic a possibility it is that fourth stimulus checks might come to fruition.

Here’s one way to look at it. If advocates think the payments should be tied to current conditions, the economy does seem ripe for an all-new wave. For example, around 14.6 million people are currently getting some sort of jobless-related assistance, per one news report. The jobless rate of 5.9% is still well above the pre-COVID level of 3.5%, and US payrolls have shed millions of workers.

Accordingly, 21 Democrat US Senators signed a letter dated March 30 to President Biden, calling for not just a fourth stimulus payment but recurring checks. Many of their constituents were telling the senators that the third stimulus check, for $1,400, would last them maybe through June.

Good news

While this Change.org petition calling for recurring payments continues to rack up signatures on its way to 2.8 million, meanwhile, there’s good news — sort of.

The Biden White House doesn’t seem to want to fight for a fourth stimulus check right now. But that also doesn’t really matter too much, because more stimulus checks have actually already started trickling out to Americans. The form is much different, however, than what came before.

While the previous stimulus checks were one-time affairs, these new checks are structured a bit differently. The March stimulus law also expanded a benefit called the federal child tax credit. And here’s how it’s being paid out.

Half of it is coming next year as a tax credit, like normal. The other half is being paid out now, across six monthly checks from July through December. The size of the checks depends on how many eligible children are in a household. But they’ll generally total several hundred dollars per month, every month, through December 15. Check this IRS portal for everything you need to know about the child tax credit payments.

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