updated 2:28 PM CEST, May 24, 2023

Trump finally signs second Covid-19 stimulus check bill; expats and dependents said eligible

After initially refusing to sign into law a bill aimed at providing relief to U.S. taxpayers hit by the economic ramifications of the ongoing coronavirus crisis, saying US$600 per taxpayer  (£438, £482) wasn't enough, President Trump finally gave it the go-ahead on Sunday evening (Dec.27).

 American expats and their "U.S. citizen dependent children" will be eligible for the one-off payments, according to financial advisers who specialize in looking after such clients. But having a Social Security Number (SSN) "will be a condition for receiving the payments," according to Marina Hernandez, of Crossborder Planner, a U.S.-based tax advice provider. 

Late on Tuesday, the Treasury Department said that the IRS would begin delivering the second round of Economic Impact Payments (EIPs) "as early as tonight" to "millions of Americans, as part of the implementation of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021".

These initial direct deposit payments would continue into next week, the Treasury statement said, adding that paper checks would begin to be mailed out on Wedneday (Dec. 30). 

Trump's decision not to sign the bill, after it had finally been approved by both houses of Congress, because he said it should have provided for larger direct payments to individuals in addition to other changes, had been widely criticized in the U.S., including by some members of his own party, because it was part of a US$2.3trn bill that included a US$1.4trn allocation for normal government funding – which meant that some 14 million Americans were at risk of their unemployment benefit payents lapsing after midnight on Monday. 

The bill, described as being 5,600 pages in length, ensures that the US$300 weekly unemployment benefits Americans currently receive will now continue until March 14. 

In addition to the payments to individual taxpayers, the legislation adds US$284bn to the government's paycheck Protection Program, which helps small businesses to continue to pay their employees' wages during the coronavirus period, and thus avoid them having to lay off workers. 

The bill also provides around US$16bn to develop and distribute coronavirus vaccines, and provide funding for Covid-19 testing and contact tracing.

Trump: 'US$600 not enough' 

Trump's declaration that US$600 wasn't enough to compensate Americans for the impact the coronavirus pandemic was having on them and their families, and that  US$2,000 would have been more appropriate, was immediately pounced on and endorsed by Democratic party officials, who are now seeking to amend the legislation to provide for the greater amount.

Trump tweet Some Republicans have said this could add to the already-significant burden America faces in eventually paying the coronavirus bills it's running up, and the Democrats' amendment is expected to face an uphill battle in the Republican-controlled Senate. 

Trump signed the bill while on vacation in Palm Beach, Florida, where he alerted his Twitter followers to his change of mind in a tweet (pictured left) shortly before making it official. 

As reported, Trump signed the original US$2trn "CARES Act" stimulus packages into law in April, providing as much as US$1,200 per person in "recovery rebates". Months later, it emerged that among those receiving the payments were some Americans who had already renounced their citizenships, and non-U.S. citizens who had never been American but who had spent time in the U.S.

Another issue, which the American Citizens Abroad flagged up in October,  is that many Americans around the world have found it difficult and even impossible to obtain Social Security numbers for themselves and/or their newborn children, as a result of the fact that U.S. embassies and consulates have been closed for months, or have only been partially open, in response to the Covid pandemic. 

In a letter to Assistant Secretary of State Carl Risch dated Oct. 19, ACA  executive director Marylouise Serrato said her Washington, DC-based advocacy organization had been hearing from "members and supporters" that some expat parents had been unable to arrange appointments at their local U.S. embassies or consulates for, among other things, Consular Reports of Birth Abroad (CRBA) and applications for Social Security numbers for their children.

As was the case with the first round of Economic Impact Payments, Americans who are resident overseas will be keen to learn what, if anything, they need to do in order to secure their check, or deposit. To read additional thoughts on this of Crossborder Planner's Marina Hernandez,   click here...

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