Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget

Four-Fifths of Stimulus Checks Have Been Sent

Jan 8, 2021 | Other Spending

In the first three days of distributing the second round of stimulus checks approved by Congress in the Response and Relief Act, the Treasury Department sent out $130 billion, according to data released yesterday by the Treasury Department. That is 79 percent of the total estimated $164 billion cost of the second round of checks. $107 billion has been sent by direct deposit, and $23 billion by check.

The year-end relief deal included a second round of recovery rebates, or "Economic Impact Payments," worth up to $600 for each adult and child dependent. That is half the size of the $1,200 rebates provided for adults in the CARES Act, but $100 more than child dependents received in that round.

Thus far, this second round has been distributed at a record pace. It took 19 days for Treasury to distribute the first $150 billion – or approximately 50 percent – of recovery rebates authorized under the CARES Act after it was signed into law on March 27. This time around, about two-thirds of the rebates went out on January 4, the very first day of distribution and just one week after the bill was signed. Additional rebates sent on January 6 bring the total percentage of second-round rebates distributed thus far up to 79 percent.

The law requires all the payments for second round of rebates be sent by January 15. After that point, taxpayers can claim any payments from either of the first two stimulus checks they were eligible for but did not receive as a tax credit on their 2020 tax return.

On top of the $130 billion distributed over the past three days, an additional $5 billion in rebates have been returned for various reasons, like outdated direct deposit information or closed accounts. A significant portion of these refunds can be explained by an apparently widespread error that caused rebates for taxpayers who elect to have their tax preparation expenses paid directly out of their tax refunds were sent to bank accounts owned by tax preparation companies instead of the taxpayers themselves.

This blog post is a product of the COVID Money Tracker, an initiative of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget focused on identifying and tracking the disbursement of the trillions being poured into the economy to combat the crisis through legislative, administrative, and Federal Reserve actions.