Although politicians, researchers, advocates, and ordinary Americans have called for additional out-of-pocket payments for most Americans, the government is already providing additional support to people struggling to make ends meet and face the debt that the effects of the pandemic persist.
More than $ 20 billion in COVID relief has been disbursed in the past week alone. Some of that may be on its way for you.
$ 15 billion expanded child tax credit
On Thursday, the IRS began distributing direct payments to households with children as part of a inflated child tax credit.
A one-year extension of the maximum credit amount per child from $ 2,000 to $ 3,600 was a key part of the latest pandemic assistance package, which President Joe Biden signed in March.
Most parents receive direct monthly payments of up to $ 300 for each child under age 6 until the end of the year. For children aged 6 to 17, the monthly payment is $ 250.
Direct deposits and paper checks represent half of total credit. The other half can be used as reimbursement when families file their 2021 taxes next year.
Biden has offered to keep the extended children’s credit going until at least 2025, and Major Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, want to make the change permanent.
The IRS says the first child tax credit payments, totaling about $ 15 billion, will go to about 35 million families. The IRS recently introduced a practical portal where parents can check their eligibility and track their payments.
More than $ 5 billion in tax refunds linked to COVID
Biden’s COVID bailout bill allows Americans who filed for unemployment benefits in 2020 to protect much of that money – $ 10,200 for individuals, $ 20,400 for couples filing jointly – Taxes.
Because the president signed the stimulus package in the middle of this year’s tax season, many Americans had already filed and paid their taxes before the change took effect.
If your income last year was less than $ 150,000 and you received unemployment benefits, you may have paid too much tax. If so, you are qualified for a surprise tax refund.
The IRS on Wednesday began distributing a new round of $ 4 million in refunds to people who were unemployed last year. Officials say the refunds have an average value of $ 1,265, for a total of about $ 5.06 billion in refunds.
The tax agency says it will continue to issue those tax refunds paid on unemployment throughout the summer. If you’ve already filed your taxes and are considered eligible for a refund, you’ll get yours automatically.
But note that the IRS is grappling with a backlog of 35 million tax returns, so reimbursement delays are possible.
Also available: emergency housing assistance
Whether you are a homeowner or a tenant, the federal government has set aside a mountain of money to help you over the coming months.
For tenants who could not cover the cost of housing, $ 46.6 billion was released in emergency rental assistance at state and local levels. Eligible tenants can receive relief to cover up to 18 months of missed and future rent.
The amount of aid varies from state to state. Some states offer qualifying tenants up to $ 4,600 per month. Others make lump sum payments of up to $ 25,000. In order to receive rental assistance, you must prove that you are in need.
Homeowners facing the prospect of foreclosure due to an inability to make their mortgage payments can also apply for stimulus.
The March COVID Assistance Bill created a $ 10 billion homeowner assistance fund, with a minimum of $ 50 million earmarked for each state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. You can apply via the housing agency for your state or territory.
Applicants must provide proof that they are experiencing financial hardship as a result of the pandemic. You also can’t earn more than 150% of your area’s median income, and your mortgage balance can’t exceed $ 548,250.
Other ways to boost your finances
If you are not eligible for child credit, unexpected tax refunds or housing assistance, you have many options available to you to create a little more financial leeway.
If you have multiple credit card balances and other high interest debt, consider replacing them with a single debt consolidation loan. The lower interest rate will be reduce the overall cost of your debt and help you pay it back faster.
If you own a home and haven’t refinanced your mortgage in the past year, you may be leaving money on the table. With mortgage rates now below 3%, mortgage technology and data provider Black Knight estimates 13.9 million Americans could save on average $ 293 per month per refinance.
To further reduce your housing costs, a small comparison could reward you with savings the next time you renew or buy home insurance. The same strategy could also save you hundreds of dollars a year in auto insurance.
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