After months of anticipation and drama, stimulus checks are finally on their way.
A second round of so-called Economic Impact Payments (EIPs)—up to $600 per taxpayer—started arriving via direct deposit Tuesday and will continue showing up in bank accounts into next week, the IRS said in a statement late Tuesday. Paper checks were set to begin going out in Wednesday’s mail.
While the payments were authorized in the $900 billion COVID-19 economic relief bill passed by Congress more than a week ago, President Donald Trump initially refused to sign it, demanding, among other things, that the payments be increased to $2,000 per taxpayer. On Sunday, he signed the bill while still pushing for the increase. Though efforts to boost the amount have stalled in the Senate, the IRS noted that the payments will be “topped up as quickly as possible” should new legislation be enacted.
The new relief package, including the EIPs, is the government’s latest attempt to throw struggling Americans a lifeline. After months of failed negotiations and partisan feuding, the legislation, which extends several of the provisions initiated by the CARES Act, may help buy families a little more time to get back on track as COVID-19 vaccines are rolled out.
The IRS said taxpayers don’t have to do anything to receive their payments, which may be marked as pending or provisional in their bank accounts until an official payment date of Jan. 4. U.S. citizens and resident aliens who can’t be claimed as a dependent by someone else are generally eligible, if their earnings fall within certain limits.
Here’s what else you need to know:
- While it isn’t operational yet, within a few days, people can use the Get My Payment tool on the IRS website to check the status of their payment, the IRS said Tuesday. Payments will be automatic for eligible taxpayers who filed a 2019 tax return, those who receive Social Security or other government benefits, and those who registered for the first round of stimulus checks using the non-filers tool on the IRS site.
- A $600 payment is coming to most individuals whose adjusted gross income (AGI) for 2019 was $75,000 or less (or, for those who filed as a head of household, with AGI of $112,500.)
- A $1,200 payment is coming to married couples (and surviving spouses) who file a joint tax return and earned $150,000 or less in AGI for 2019.
- Payments will be smaller for those with higher incomes, up to a point. There is no payment for individual taxpayers earning $87,000 or more, heads of household earning $124,500 or more, or couples earning $174,000 or more.
- Up to $600 will be provided for each qualifying child under age 17. If you are divorced, you will only get the payment for the child or children you claim as a dependent.
- In a notable change from the first round of payments, families where only one spouse has a valid Social Security number are still eligible.
Trump’s delay in signing the bill didn’t alter the timing on stimulus checks much (Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin had originally said they could go out as early as the beginning of this week), and a Department of Labor spokesperson said it shouldn’t affect those receiving unemployment insurance benefits through two special programs either.
The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program—which supported more than 14 million people as of the latest Department of Labor tally—were extended through March 14 after expiring on Saturday. The PUA offers benefits to those who would not otherwise be eligible, including self-employed workers and independent contractors. PEUC extends benefits by an additional 13 weeks to those who have exhausted their state-administered unemployment insurance.
“As states are implementing these new provisions as quickly as possible, the Department does not anticipate that eligible claimants will miss a week of benefits due to the timing of the law’s enactment,” the Labor Department spokesperson said in an email.