The IRS’ distribution of direct federal stimulus payments worth up to $1,400 as part of the American Rescue Plan continues, though there are signs that this third round of stimulus payments may be nearing its end. To date, the IRS has distributed over 164 stimulus payments worth a total of roughly $386 billion to eligible Americans.
There is a growing amount of evidence suggesting that the third-round of government stimulus payments has played a key role in helping to jumpstart an economic recovery in the United States. These payments, which have been the largest of the three rounds of stimulus payments so far and which have coincided with greater rates of vaccinations in many parts of the country and with the reopening of many businesses, have led to increases in both consumer spending and household income.
But it appears increasingly likely that IRS is approaching the end of its campaign to distribute third-round stimulus payments. The most recent batch of payments sent out by the IRS included just over one million checks, the smallest batch of payments dispersed so far; previously, none of the batches of payments sent out by the IRS has included fewer than 2 million checks. The distribution of the most recent batch of payments, moreover, now means that over 85 percent of the total funds earmarked for stimulus payments have been used up.
In addition, the most recent batch of payments distributed by the IRS suggests that the agency is now focused primarily on sending payments to a final group of Americans who are eligible for stimulus payments based on information included in their 2020 tax returns. The most recent batch included over 585,000 payments worth more than $1.2 billion to people whom the IRS did not have a record of before they filed their 2020 tax returns, as well as over 570,000 “plus-up” payments. These supplemental payments are intended for those people whose initial eligibility for a third-round stimulus payment was determined by information contained in their 2019 tax returns, but whose 2020 returns indicate a loss of income or change in dependent status that entitles them to more money.
The IRS’ focus on sending payments to this specific category of people suggests that the majority of eligible Americans have otherwise received their checks, indicating a potential end to the distribution of third-round stimulus payments sometime in the near future.
This comes as more and more Americans are advocating for additional payments, and perhaps even regularly recurring payments, in the future, with one online petition now holding more than 2 million signatures.
Eli Fuhrman is a contributing writer for The National Interest.