Just Like That, First $1,400 Stimulus Checks Are Out

Monthly payments organization

With reports of people seeing the third round of direct stimulus payments in their bank accounts just one day after President Joe Biden signed his American Rescue Plan into law, it’s time to dive into the details. We’ve tried to answer the most important questions you may have about eligibility, amounts, timing and delivery methods. 

How Much Can I Expect to Receive?

As with the first two rounds of stimulus checks, the federal government will use the adjusted gross income (AGI) listed on your tax return to determine whether you qualify and for how much. Your tax filing status is also very important, since heads of household have a higher income limit than individual taxpayers. 

Full payments of $1,400 per person, including per dependent, will go to: 

  • Individual taxpayers, or single filers, with an AGI of $75,000 or less  
  • Heads of household with an AGI of $112,500 or less
  • Married couples filing jointly with an AGI of $150,000 or less

For those with higher AGIs, the $1,400 payment will be reduced on a prorated basis up to certain income thresholds, depending on filing status. For individuals and couples, for instance, the reduction amounts to $280 for every $1,000 in income over the full payment cutoff. Reduced payments will be distributed as follows:

  • Individual taxpayers with an AGI of between $75,001 and $80,000 
  • Heads of household with an AIG of between $112,501 and $120,000
  • Married couples filing jointly with an AGI of between $150,001 and $160,000

While the cutoffs for full payments are the same as they were in the first two rounds, the phaseout limit is lower, meaning that some people who got a check previously won’t get one this time. During the first round last March, individual filers with an AGI up to $99,000 (or $198,000 for joint filers) received a partial payment; the AGI cutoff for the stimulus approved in December was $87,000 (or $174,000 for joint filers).

I Heard Parents Are Getting a Lot More This Time?

Aside from the lower-income thresholds, some of the biggest changes from prior stimulus payments relate to dependents. Not only will qualified taxpayers receive up to $1,400 per dependent—more than double the amount in the first two rounds—but adult dependents are no longer excluded. In 2019, there were an estimated 13.5 million adult dependents in the U.S., including college students and disabled people.

Either way, families with dependents will receive significantly more this round. A family of four, for instance, could receive $5,600. Here are a variety of other scenarios:

Does the Government Know What I’m Earning Now?

It depends on whether you’ve filed your 2020 tax return yet.

If you have, the IRS will use that information to determine whether you’re eligible and, if so, for how much. If you haven’t filed yet, or used the IRS non-filer portal to register for previous stimulus checks, the IRS will use your income status from 2019, according to the White House.

How Will I Get My Payment?

Generally speaking, the IRS will use the same delivery method used for prior stimulus payments. If the IRS has direct deposit or bank account information for you, it can send your payment electronically. If it cannot determine a bank account, paper checks or debit cards will be sent.

The White House said officials are also trying to increase the number of households receiving electronic payments this time around.

When Can I Expect My Stimulus Payment?

Check your bank account because you might have already gotten it. 

Biden signed the bill into the law Thursday, putting the wheels into motion to get payments out the door. Later that day, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki announced that the first wave of payments would go out this weekend, with subsequent waves coming over the next several weeks. On Friday, some people reported that the IRS already had deposited the payment in their bank accounts.