Stimulus check arriving in 2 phases: Will your check come before this deadline? – CNET

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It’s true, whichever payment group you’re in could affect when you get your second stimulus check.


Angela Lang/CNET

The IRS will continue to push the second stimulus checks to tens of millions of bank accounts and mailboxes into this week and next, but those days are already numbered. There’s just about a week and a half left to complete sending out payments before a Jan. 15 deadline imposed in the stimulus bill. (You can calculate the size of your payment and here’s how to track it.)

Although the IRS is moving quickly to hit the cutoff date, it’s unlikely every household that qualifies for more stimulus money will receive it by the middle of the month. In addition to the IRS running out of time, your second stimulus check could also potentially run into hurdles that could hold up its delivery. Knowing which group you’re in according to IRS sorting can help give you an idea if you’ll be among the first to get a check for up to $600 per person, or near the end of the line. (Remember, not everyone will qualify for the $600 payment.)

Read on for more information about IRS payment groups. While the $2,000 stimulus check is currently dead, the results of Georgia’s Senate election runoff could lean in favor of a third stimulus check in 2021. This story updates with new details.

Direct deposit payments will pay out fastest, but there’s a catch

People who have their direct deposit information on file with the IRS are in the first group to receive a stimulus check. An electronic transfer of funds is faster and more efficient than mailing a check, which means the IRS can process many more people faster. Many have already received their money through direct deposit.

On Jan. 4, the IRS turned on its tool to track your second stimulus check online; however, you won’t be able to sign up for or change your direct deposit information. If the IRS does not already have your banking information, you’ll have no choice but to wait for the mail.


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Second stimulus checks: Everything you need to know

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Social Security recipients: Which way will your check go?

With the first stimulus payment, many people who receive Social Security disbursements who also had direct deposit information on file with the federal government received checks in the first week, though not always the first day.

For the second check, the IRS will automatically send the money through how you regularly receive your benefits, such as direct deposit, Direct Express card or paper check.

Paper checks are coming, but don’t forget about that deadline

The IRS began sending the first paper checks in the mail on Wednesday, Dec. 30 (here’s how you can track your stimulus check to your mailbox). That’s much faster than the first time around, but there are still two major limitations you need to know.

The US Treasury can process between 5 million and 7 million paper stimulus checks a week in addition to checks for other federal programs, according to a Government Accountability Office report from June, which means some people will have to wait.

Then there’s this catch. Language in the stimulus bill institutes a cutoff of Jan. 15 for the IRS to send out payments. So anyone who doesn’t receive theirs around the middle of the month will have to claim it this year during tax season. That gives people who sign up for direct deposit a distinct advantage.

The timing then becomes a matter of how soon you submit your taxes for 2020 and how quickly the IRS would be able to process your return. Those two scenarios are influenced by a variety of factors. For example, people who file their returns in February would likely receive their stimulus check money — in the form of a Recovery Rebate Credit — months before people who wait until the April 15 deadline or file an extension.

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When you get your stimulus money could depend on who you are.


Sarah Tew/CNET

The first wave of EIP cards will arrive quicker this time

EIP debit cards are prepaid Visa cards the IRS may send you instead of a paper check — the envelope will look unmarked, so be careful not to toss out your mail without carefully checking first (this free tracking tool can help). The IRS has said it started sending EIP cards on Dec. 30, a change from the one-month delay in sending this type of payment the first time. The same rules apply as paper checks. If you don’t get yours around Jan. 15, you’ll need to claim it as a Recovery Rebate Credit as part of filing your taxes this year.

Complex situations could hold back your check

For the first check, this category includes people who received a check after June, still haven’t received their full stimulus payment or who didn’t know they needed to complete an extra step. It isn’t clear what would happen if there was a problem during the process and the Recovery Rebate Credit was further delayed. It’s likely the IRS would set a different, later deadline to address clerical errors, like missing stimulus money, and other scenarios. Here are 10 things that could hold up your stimulus check.

What if you don’t get the full amount from any stimulus check? Know this

It isn’t always clear how much money the IRS might owe you in the event of an error. We suggest starting with our second stimulus check calculator or the calculator for the first stimulus check and this introduction to how the IRS tabulates your total sum. If the numbers seem lower than they should be, you might want to investigate further.

See if any of these situations could apply to you: Are you missing $500 allotted for your child dependents, or do you pay or receive child support? Are you a tax nonfiler who may be owed a stimulus check (including older adults and people who receive SSI or SSDI)?

If you’re a US citizen abroad or live in a US territory and didn’t receive a check as expected, you may also need to read up on the rules. And a court ruling has made it possible for millions of people who are incarcerated to get a check, even after the IRS changed its interpretation to exclude this group.

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