ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — While some in Congress are pushing for an additional round of direct payments to Americans, a records request by the Boston Herald found that 1.24 million economic impact payments remain uncashed from the first round of aid last year.
Of those1.24 million payments nationwide, 72,988 stimulus checks remain uncashed in New York state, 3,169 remain uncashed in Vermont, and 5,859 remain uncashed in New Hampshire.
The Herald obtained the information from the Internal Revenue Service under a Freedom of Information Act. IRS officials said the 1,245,339 uncashed checks represent “the number of people who either refused to accept, paid back or not cashed the stimulus checks they received from the IRS as a result of the CARES Act that was signed into law on March 27, 2020.”
New York currently ranks fourth in the nation with the most amount of uncashed checks, trailing California (123,265), Florida (92,018), and Texas (88,345). Pennsylvania is fifth, trailing New York by a few hundred checks with 72,252 direct payments outstanding.
The government has issued three direct payments since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. About a year ago, the government sent $1,200 stimulus checks to most Americans through the CARES Act. In late 2020, the government approved payments of $600 per person. That was followed by the third stimulus payment of $1,400.
In the latest round of COVID relief aid, the U.S. government said it sent roughly 159 million direct payments to households, with a total value of $376 billion.
The push for a fourth stimulus check
Members of a powerful congressional committee are calling for additional rounds of economic relief from the federal government for families still struggling during the coronavirus pandemic.
With the third round of $1,400 stimulus checks behind us, a letter sent late last week to President Joe Biden from seven Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee calls for a fourth and fifth round of direct payments to assist people with housing, food and other payments. The committee oversees government budgeting and taxation. The group that signed the letter represents about 15% of the committee’s members.
The letter, dated May 17, doesn’t mention a dollar amount but lays out the possibility of two additional rounds of relief.
“A fourth and fifth check could keep an additional 12 million out of poverty,” the letter reads. “Combined with the effects of the [American Recovery Plan], direct payments could reduce the number in poverty in 2021 from 44 million to 16 million.”
Previous congressional letters asking for additional relief have been signed by more than 80 Democratic lawmakers. A change.org petition on the subject has collected more than 2 million signatures from the general public.
However, even with growing support among some Democratic lawmakers, a fourth round of stimulus checks faces major hurdles. The third round of relief squeaked through Congress thanks to a budget loophole when it failed to find bipartisan support. Since that time, numerous Republican governors have refused federal COVID unemployment insurance benefits, arguing that they encourage people to stay home and collect money instead of getting back to work. Proposals for additional direct payments would likely face similar criticism.
On top of that, Democratic leaders like Nancy Pelosi have been relatively quiet on the possibility of additional checks. Instead, their focus is on passing Biden’s infrastructure plan.
When asked directly about stimulus checks earlier this month, White House press secretary Jen Psaki responded by saying, “We’ll see what members of Congress propose,” adding that the payments “were not free.”