Congress passed a second COVID-19 relief bill Monday, which includes one-time direct payments that total up to $600 per individual. But how soon will people receive their checks? Here’s what you need to know about direct payments and when you’ll receive them.
Who qualifies, and for how much?
American adults earning less than $75,000 in annual gross income will receive a $600 check, and couples who earn less than $150,000 will receive $1,200. IRS filers listed as “head of household” and who earned $112,500 or less will also get $600. Dependents under 17 also qualify, and the amount is actually $100 higher than the previous relief check, now $600 instead of $500. This means that a family of four that’s under the earning threshold could receive as much as $2,400.
If your income exceeds the threshold, payments will be reduced. The closer you get to $87,000 for individuals and $174,000 for couples, the less money you’ll receive. Use this calculator to get an estimate of how much money you can expect with your direct payment.
In addition to income thresholds, to qualify for payments you have to be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or qualifying resident alien (undocumented residents are not included), not be a dependent of another taxpayer, and have a social security number that’s valid for employment.
How will the checks be sent?
Most Americans won’t have to do anything to receive the payments. If you’ve already provided the IRS with your bank account information, the checks will be sent via direct deposit. Social Security retirement and disability beneficiaries, railroad retirees, and those receiving veterans benefits will also have the money deposited into their accounts automatically.
Alternatively, if you don’t have direct bank transfer set up, the IRS will use the address in your 2019 tax return to mail you checks directly, and failing that, use the address from your 2018 tax return as an alternative.
Some recipients might receive an Economic Impact Payment Card (EIP) card, which is a pre-loaded debit card that will be mailed in a plain, inconspicuous envelope—so don’t accidentally throw it away.
What if I’ve moved?
If you’ve moved as a result of COVID, the Treasury might not know where to send a paper check or EIP card. You could file a change of address form with the USPS or IRS, but this could take at least four to six weeks to be processed, so the check could still be mailed to your old address.
Fortunately the IRS’ Get My Payment tool, which helps people track their payments and update their bank direct deposit information, is still operational and is expected to be active for the second round of payments, according to NJ.com.
What if I never received the first payment?
If you haven’t been paid or the amount you received isn’t correct, you can claim a “recovery rebate credit” on your 1040 or 1040-SR form when you file your 2020 taxes next year.
Will I get my payment in 2020?
The stimulus checks could start reaching people’s bank accounts as early as next week, according to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. This could be true for most recipients, but then again, some people are still waiting for their first relief checks, nine months after the Treasury started mailing them out. On the other hand, the rollout for the second round of checks is expected to run more smoothly as more people have subsequently signed up for direct deposit—if you have signed up for direct deposit, expect to be one of the first recipients of the second relief check.
While it remains uncertain as to whether this will happen before the end of the year, CNET suggests that people could receive direct deposits starting the week of January 4 if Trump signs the bill today. But this is speculation and depends on a faster rollout than we saw last spring.
This story has been updated Dec. 22, 2021, with new information.