The COVID-19 pandemic caused economic hardship for millions of Americans. In response, the U.S. government approved three rounds of stimulus checks from 2020 to 2021, totaling over $900 billion. Now in 2023, the key question is: will there be another stimulus check?
While a fourth nationwide direct payment currently seems unlikely, several states are providing additional relief. Here’s what to know about the possibility of a new federal stimulus check and state-level support this year.
Recapping the Stimulus Packages So Far
To offset the impacts of the pandemic, Congress authorized stimulus packages providing direct relief to individuals and families:
CARES Act (March 2020): The first stimulus package sent $1,200 checks to Americans earning under $75,000 per year and $2,400 to married couples earning less than $150,000. It also provided an extra $500 per dependent child under 17. In total, the CARES Act distributed over 160 million payments worth $270 billion.
December 2020 Package: The second round issued $600 stimulus checks to individuals making up to $75,000 per year and $1,200 to married couples earning up to $150,000. Households received an additional $600 per child dependent. This $900 billion legislation delivered around 147 million payments totaling over $142 billion.
American Rescue Plan (March 2021): The third stimulus provided $1,400 payments to individuals earning under $80,000 annually and couples earning less than $160,000. It added another $1,400 per dependent, including college students and elderly relatives. Over 175 million payments valued at $400 billion went out under this $1.9 trillion relief package.
The Push for a Fourth Stimulus Check
With the Omicron variant threatening another surge, some lawmakers pushed for a fourth round of direct payments in 2022. But broad support failed to materialize.
President Biden resisted proposing another nationwide stimulus initiative, instead focusing on targeted federal assistance programs. Economists also cautioned that excessive stimulus spending could worsen inflation. For now, a fourth federal stimulus check seems very unlikely.
However, hard-hit families received a boost through the expansion of the Child Tax Credit (CTC), which provided advance payments of up to $3,600 per child to tens of millions of families in 2021. Democrats aimed to extend the program, but it was cut from their stalled Build Back Better legislation. The future of the CTC remains uncertain.
Ongoing Targeted Federal Aid
While the federal government is not issuing blanket stimulus payments to all Americans, some targeted relief continues:
Unemployment Benefits: Emergency pandemic unemployment programs ended in September 2021, but eligible workers can still receive regular state jobless benefits. The duration varies by state from 12 weeks to 30 weeks.
Nutrition Assistance: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits increased by at least $95 per month for 42 million Americans. Emergency allotments were extended through March 2023 in some states.
Energy Relief: The federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) received $4.5 billion to help vulnerable households cover heating costs and utility bills through home heating grants and state block grants.
Health Insurance Subsidies: The American Rescue Plan expanded subsidies for health insurance purchased through the Affordable Care Act marketplaces through 2022. This reduced premiums for millions of ACA policyholders.
Rental Assistance: The Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) distributed $46 billion to help renters facing pandemic hardship avoid eviction by covering owed back rent along with utilities and other housing expenses.
2023 State-Level Stimulus Efforts
Given the federal stalemate, several states are stepping up with their own stimulus programs:
California: The Golden State Stimulus II provided qualifying residents with checks ranging from $600 to $1,100. Nearly 10 million payments have gone out so far under this $12 billion initiative. Many Californians are still awaiting their checks.
Maine: Residents who filed 2021 state tax returns by October 31, 2022 and met eligibility requirements will receive $850 relief checks. Couples filing jointly get $1,700. The payments started going out in June 2022.
Delaware: In April 2022, taxpayers who filed their 2021 return within the deadline received a rebate of $300. Married couples filing jointly received $600.
Indiana: Indiana taxpayers received automatic $125 refunds after filing their 2021 state tax returns. Couples filing jointly netted $250. The state dispensed about $545 million in payments.
Hawaii: Hawaii residents earning under $100,000 per year (or $200,000 for joint filers) got one-time $300 stimulus checks in 2022. Dependents also qualified for $100 payments.
Idaho: The Idaho tax rebate gave eligible residents either $75 or 10% of their 2020 state taxes, whichever was greater. The state earmarked $350 million for these payments.
New Mexico: In May and June 2022, New Mexicans received stimulus payments of $500 (or $1,000 for married couples). The state expected to distribute approximately $430 million.
Georgia: In May 2022, Georgia issued income tax rebates of $250 for single filers, $375 for heads of households, and $500 for married couples filing jointly. Residents had to file both 2020 and 2021 state returns to qualify.
Other State Tax Rebates in 2022
Along with stimulus checks, some states provided refundable tax credits or rebates when residents filed their state income tax returns:
- Colorado issued tax rebates of $750 for individuals and $1,500 for joint filers.
- Pennsylvania‘s tax rebate offered $650 to households earning under $80,000.
- New Jersey provided property tax rebates up to $1,500, with an income limit of $250,000.
- Massachusetts enacted a one-time $500 payment for low-income workers.
- South Carolina issued tax rebates of up to $800 based on residency and income.
- Virginia provided tax rebates of up to $500 for individuals and $1,000 for couples.
These state tax relief measures aimed to counteract inflationary pressures and high energy bills affecting consumers. Local politicians also sought to boost their standing with voters by putting cash directly into their pockets.
Outlook for Further Stimulus in 2023
Economic conditions could shift support toward additional stimulus relief in 2023:
- If high inflation persists and causes financial hardship for many Americans, new stimulus payments could help ease the burden.
- A recession later in 2023 would spur calls for economic impact payments to prop up consumer spending, similar to the COVID-19 response.
- State governments may establish new emergency stimulus programs to fill in when federal action falls short, as occurred during the pandemic.
Much depends on the scale of economic need among the public. Targeted relief seems more plausible than another massive federal plan like the CARES Act. But if economic suffering reaches new extremes, broader stimulus may find support.
Strategies for Weathering Financial Difficulties
For Americans struggling to make ends meet, here are some tips to stretch limited dollars:
- Review your budget for areas to save, such as cutting discretionary spending, lowering monthly bills, and evaluating financial accounts for fees or better options.
- Call your creditors to request reduced or deferred payments if possible. Many are willing to work with customers, and temporary hardship programs are available.
- Check state and nonprofit resources for utility payment assistance, medical bill support, food pantries, unemployment benefits, and other social services you may qualify for.
- Consider side gigs to supplement income. Even a few hours a week of rideshare driving, online tutoring, paid surveys or dog walking can help cover essential costs.
- Prioritize essential needs like housing, food, utilities, and medication. Try calling 211 or going to 211.org for referrals to local aid programs.
Though the likelihood of another broad federal stimulus check currently seems low, Americans are getting some extra support through state governments and targeted federal assistance. But individuals still need to practice financial caution. With thoughtful budgeting and a resourceful mindset, most of us can navigate turbulence — with or without stimulus checks.