History and Analysis of the First, Second, and Third Stimulus Checks – How Much Were They?

By Ehsteem Arif

Published on:

Joe Boden

The COVID-19 pandemic had a profound impact on global and American economies. In response, the US government introduced several measures, including stimulus checks, to support the financial stability of the nation. These checks aimed to boost consumer spending during challenging times, thereby stimulating economic growth.

Stimulus checks are direct payments made by the US government to taxpayers, either via direct deposit or paper checks. They were particularly crucial during the pandemic to help individuals and families cope with financial hardships.


Interested in knowing about the amounts of the first, second, and third stimulus checks? Let’s cut into the details.


In April 2020, the first Economic Impact Payment under the CARES Act was introduced. This was followed by the second payment under the Tax Relief Act of 2020 in December 2020. The third payment came in March 2021 under the American Rescue Plan.


Here’s a breakdown of the amounts paid:

  • First Check: $1,200 per tax filer, $500 per child.
  • Second Check: $600 per tax filer, $600 per child.
  • Third Check: $1,400 per tax filer, $1,400 per child.

Let’s examine each stimulus check in more detail.



The first stimulus check, part of the CARES Act, provided eligible taxpayers with up to $1,200. Dependents under 16 years old received $500 each. These payments were aimed at individuals earning up to $75,000 annually, with the amount gradually decreasing for those earning up to $99,000.

These payments were distributed through direct deposits, mailed paper checks, or prepaid debit cards called Economic Impact Payment (EIP) Cards. Most people received their payments by mid-April 2020, with some getting them via EIP cards by late May or early June.



The second stimulus check, authorized by the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021, was distributed starting in late December 2020. It provided $600 per eligible adult and an additional $600 per dependent child under 17.

This round of payments had similar income phase-out levels, but slightly higher qualifying thresholds. Married couples filing jointly received up to $1,200, plus $600 for each dependent child.



The third stimulus check was part of the American Rescue Plan, enacted in March 2021. This check provided $1,400 per eligible individual and $1,400 for each dependent, regardless of age. This meant families could receive significant amounts, as there was no cap on the number of dependents claimed.

Similar to previous checks, most payments were made through direct deposits, with some beneficiaries receiving funds via mailed checks or prepaid debit cards.



As of December 31, 2021, the IRS ceased issuing federal stimulus payments. However, 16 states initiated their own stimulus programs, offering checks, rebates, refunds, or credits to qualifying residents.

We hope this detailed analysis of the three rounds of US government-issued stimulus checks has been informative and helpful.



How much was the first stimulus check?

$1,200 per filer, $500 per child.

What was the second check amount?

$600 per filer, $600 per child.


How much was the third check?

$1,400 per filer, $1,400 per child.

Are federal stimulus checks still issued?

No, they stopped as of December 31, 2021.


Did any states provide their own stimulus checks?

Yes, 16 states ran their own programs in 2022.


Disclaimer- We are committed to fair and transparent journalism. Our Journalists verify all details before publishing any news. For any issues with our content, please contact us via email. 

Ehsteem Arif

A tax law expert with a knack for breaking down complex regulations into digestible insights. Ehsteem's articles on the tax news blog offer invaluable guidance to readers navigating changes in tax legislation.

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