Mar 12, 2021
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The IRS and Treasury have already begun processing the $1,400 stimulus checks, with more payments arriving this weekend and into next week. But not everyone will get their money at once.
The $1,400 stimulus checks have officially started going out to qualified recipients who signed up for direct deposit, the IRS and Treasury announced Friday. The agency began "processing the first batch of these payments today, which some recipients will start receiving as early as this weekend, and with more receiving this coming week." But even people who start seeing the money post to their bank accounts this weekend may not actually be able to access it until next week (more below).
There are tens of millions more who will have to wait even longer. The White House has acknowledged it will take weeks to send the entire batch of stimulus checks to over 100 million people (the second payments were sent to more than 147 million recipients). Tracking your new stimulus check online will be a good start, but there are a lot of other factors that could affect when you get your stimulus money.
For example, with tax returns due April 15, the IRS will have to process new payments using either 2019 or 2020 taxes (here's why it matters). There's also the matter of how long it takes to actually deliver your payment. If the IRS switches your payment group around, would you get your stimulus money sooner, or be part of a later wave? What if a rule change means your check winds up being garnished? We'll walk you everything you need to know now. This story was recently updated with new information.
When will I get my stimulus check?
The Treasury and IRS said they started sending out the first payments, with more going this weekend and over coming weeks, by direct deposit and through the mail as a physical check or EIP card. The IRS said some may see the direct deposit payments as pending or as provisional payments in their accounts before the official payment date of March 17.
It will take weeks to send all the stimulus checks to every qualified person, especially if you get a physical check or EIP card. The IRS has said it will process these payments after the direct deposit folks. Any additional complications could also delay your payment.
More than four dozen banks and financial institutions have started receiving stimulus check transfers through direct deposit, according to a list of over 300 banks maintained by the r/stimuluscheck forum on Reddit, which is monitoring banks and financial services for payments to financial accounts. The banks and services that the forum reports receiving payments today include Bancorp Bank, Chime and Navy Federal Credit Union.
STIMULUS CHECK: POTENTIAL DELIVERY DATES (THESE COULD CHANGE)
Stimulus bill passed Congress March 10
Stimulus bill signed into law March 11
First direct deposit sent March 12 (pending), March 17 (official)
First paper checks sent Week of March 22 possible
First EIP cards sent Week of March 29 possible
IRS deadline to finish sending checks Dec. 31, 2021 (mandated by the bill)
Last date to receive a check January 2022 (if checks sent late December)
Claims for missing stimulus money open 2021 tax season likely (in 2022)
Here's when you can to track your payment schedule online
The IRS said it will turn on Get My Payment, its online tracking tool for stimulus checks, on Monday, March 15, to show you the status of a payment -- and then some. This is a useful tool for people who receive a stimulus check in any form. The portal can also flag if there's a problem with your payment that you may need to address.
The different payment groups can affect your delivery
The IRS identifies three payment groups based on how your money is sent:
Direct-deposit recipients: Typically got their stimulus money in the first wave. But both times there were issues involving deposits going to temporary accounts that were rejected by banks. In some cases, these people got paper checks or EIP cards instead, or had to wait for the issue to resolve.
Paper checks: This is the payment type the IRS sent out second. A physical check can take weeks to arrive by mail, but the check can be deposited or cashed right away once it arrives.
EIP cards: This payment type arrives as a prepaid debit card you must activate online to use. The IRS issued EIP cards last, delaying the payment's arrival for this recipient group by weeks.
Remember, it takes time for the IRS to process the well over 100 million payments expected in this third round of checks. Even tiny errors could cause a delay in you receiving your full or partial payment. (Here's more information for SSDI and SSI recipients, and other nonfilers.)
The IRS could switch your payment group, again
Just because you got your payment by direct deposit the first two times doesn't necessarily mean you'll get it that way again. A lot depends on delivery going smoothly, and on any processing issues the IRS or Treasury could encounter with your case. (See below for tips on how you could speed up delivery.)
The IRS told CNET in January that some people who received their first stimulus payment as a physical check or EIP card may have been paid by the other method the second time around. And, anecdotally, we learned of people who received direct deposit payments the first time finally getting an EIP card in the mail -- and not an electronic bank transfer -- weeks after the IRS tool said the payment was issued. The other payment groups we've loosely defined include Social Security beneficiaries who received payments a different way the first time if they're part of the SSI or SSDI programs, and people with more complex scenarios that could lead to potential issues or holdups receiving their money. People in different child support situations are one example we've seen, as are people who are incarcerated and people with complex citizenship scenarios.
The new payment cutoff is almost 300 days away
Although the IRS and Treasury are acting fact to send stimulus checks, the agencies have until Dec. 31 to complete sending out the third payments. That's good news in the sense that they aren't facing a compressed deadline to send out all the checks. On the other hand, it also means some people may find themselves waiting, for a variety of reasons. There's still so much we don't know about how the IRS will deal with any fringe issues that arise.
Stimulus checks will be based on whichever tax filing the IRS has processed
Taxes are due April 15, and although the IRS has been lobbied to extend the tax due date, that doesn't appear likely this year. So how will the IRS figure out how much it owes you? It will calculate your total (you can also do that here) based on the most recent tax filing it's processed by the time it's ready to tabulate your check.
If you filed your 2020 taxes early and you know your tax return was already processed, your total would likely be on 2020's adjusted gross income, not 2020's, as intended. That presents complications if the difference between the two years disqualifies you from getting a third stimulus check. (Learn more about some of the stimulus check exceptions and catches here.)
If you get a partial check, you'll have to wait for the rest. That could take awhile
There are several reasons the IRS could owe you stimulus money for the third round of checks. Maybe the agency processed your 2019 tax return instead of 2020 and there was a discrepancy. Or you had a baby in 2020 you still need to claim as a dependent. Or a clerical error accidentally left out a new dependent. Maybe your payment never arrived or was accidentally garnished.
Whatever the reason, the IRS may provide a way to file for missing stimulus money before the Dec. 31 deadline. If not, you might have to wait a year to claim it, until you file your 2021 taxes in 2022 (even if you're a nonfiler who isn't typically required to file taxes).
You might be able to avoid a delay by doing these things
While you don't honestly have much control over the situation, there may be a few things you can do to help speed up receipt of a third payment. For example, we recommend signing up for direct deposit with the IRS when you submit your 2020 tax return, if you ordinarily file taxes.
If you already have an account, make sure your details are correct. We also suggest you try to file your taxes quickly. While you can file an extension to submit your taxes later (you'd still have to pay taxes owed now) whether that will help or hurt you may get a little complicated.
If you've moved recently, tell the IRS and USPS. Here are our other suggestions for how people can make it more likely they'll get their checks faster. Note that there could be some changes to qualifications that may not apply to a possible third stimulus check.
Here are more stimulus check details for these groups to know
Stimulus checks aren't necessarily a one-size-fits-all situation. Here are additional guides for:
Older adults, people who are retired and veterans
People who receive SSI or SSDI
Other tax nonfilers
Families with mixed-status citizenship
Households with dependents, or people trying to understand if they'd receive their own check
Families with child support situations