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States issue their own stimulus checks — will yours be next?

A stimulus check overlaid by a dollar bill and a fragment of an American flag.
(Image credit: Rohane Hamilton/Shutterstock)

While there's been little meaningful movement toward a fourth stimulus check at the federal level, a few states — California and Maryland so far — are issuing or planning to issue additional relief to their residents. 

As part of his California Comeback Plan, Governor Gavin Newsom recently proposed $600 checks for state residents who earn between $30,000 and $75,000 per year, plus an additional $500 for households with dependent children. 

The plan hasn't yet been approved, but if passed, it would use the state's budget surplus to provide relief to approximately 11 million Californians — 78% of the state's tax filers. 

California residents who make less than $30,000 a year, including many undocumented workers who have been excluded from national stimulus plans, already received $600 direct payments from the state earlier this spring. 

Maryland has also already provided supplemental stimulus checks to approximately 400,000 residents under the RELIEF Act, state legislation passed in February before the Biden administration's American Rescue Plan was approved. 

Maryland's legislation sent $300 to individuals who filed for the Earned Income Tax Credit as well as $500 to families with children based on the following income limits: 

  • $50,954 for individuals ($56,844 for couples) with three or more children
  • $47,440 for individuals ($53,330 for couples) with two children
  • $41,756 for individuals ($47,646 for couples) with one child
  • $15,820 for individuals ($21,710 for couples) with no children

So far, no other states have announced plans to provide additional localized relief. In fact, several (including Alabama, Missouri and Tennessee) are cutting supplemental federal unemployment benefits. 

It is possible that some states could follow California's lead, as the Treasury Department has approved the use of federally-provided aid to states provided by the American Rescue Plan  to send direct payments to residents. 

However, California is in a unique position to offer state-level stimulus checks due to its $76 billion surplus. State law requires the government to return money to residents if the surplus is over a specific amount.

File your taxes ASAP

Yesterday (May 17) was the deadline to file your 2020 income-tax return, which is the best way to get in line for stimulus check 3 provided by the Biden administration's relief plan. (You can always file for an extension if your taxes aren't ready, as long as you're prepared to make a payment.)

Direct stimulus payments — both direct deposits and paper checks — are being distributed weekly as the IRS processes 2020 returns. 

Even if you've already received your third check, you may be eligible for more money in the form of a "plus-up" payment once you submit your return. These supplemental funds are being sent to individuals who made less in 2020 than they did in 2019, as well as those who got married or added qualifying dependents. 

Emily Long
Emily Long is a Utah-based freelance writer who covers tech, security, and personal finance. She has strong opinions on what passes for good coffee and would rather be hiking right now.