Congress is hustling to deliver a coronavirus stimulus package before it breaks for the holidays and it looks likely that we’ll see some form of aid stamped out shortly. If news sources are correct, for Americans that could include a second round of individual stimulus checks, although negotiations have trimmed the amount from $1,200 to $600 per person.
Approval for the checks could come within hours, but as we know, the federal government is also a slow-galloping horse—so when will you actually see that cash in your bank account?
Here’s an expected timeline:
Congress passes a relief bill: It could happen by next week. Legislators are currently sweating to finalize a spending bill by Friday, when the government runs out of money, and could possibly crank out a relief bill at the same time. If not, congressional leaders have vowed not to leave Capitol Hill for the holidays before tying up an aid package.
If the IRS has your direct deposit information: If you want your check fastest, ensure the IRS has these details. You may have furnished them if you filed taxes for 2018 or 2019 and were owed a refund. If not, the IRS set up a tool to submit them online, with a one-month deadline last time around. (If you used this tool, you’ll probably have to use it again, as the IRS has said submissions were specific to the first check. The tool has not yet reopened.)
According to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the IRS can process a first batch of about 50 million checks for direct deposit one week after approval. With CARES Act checks, all eligible beneficiaries with direct deposit information received payments within a few weeks.
If the IRS doesn’t have your direct deposit information: This means you’ll be getting a paper check or a prepaid Visa debit card (aka Economic Impact Payment card), depending on whether the IRS has your bank information on hand.
If you’re in the paper check category, your payment could be mailed a week after the direct deposits, which is when the first batch went out last time. According to the IRS, it can process five to seven million paper checks per week, which were prioritized by lowest income to highest income for a total of 160 million CARES Act checks. So if you’re in the highest income bracket that’s still receiving a check, it could be months.
If you’re in the debit card category, your payment could be mailed as early as a month after the direct deposits, like last time. Similarly, the IRS can process five to seven million cards per week, but for the CARES Act, only four million eligible beneficiaries were slated for those cards.
If it feels like it’s been a long time since the last stimulus package, you’re right: Senate passed the past bill on March 25.