As reported by cnet,

Will you be first in line for a stimulus check — or last?


Angela Lang/CNET

Across the country, people who are eligible have already started receiving the second stimulus checks of $600. The IRS started issuing payments on Tuesday evening — the agency posted a confirmation of the details on its website, including that the IRS’ Get My Payment portal should be reopening later this week so you can check the status of your first and second payments.

Although the IRS is send the first payments this week, not everyone who’s eligible will necessarily get one right away. Where the IRS slots you into its payment schedule can give you an idea whether you’d be one of the first in line to get a second stimulus check, or near the end. (Here’s why some people may not get a check at all.) 

Right after President Donald Trump signed a COVID-19 relief bill that includes a second stimulus check for up to $600 per adult and qualified child dependents, he began pressuring Congress to increase those payments to $2,000. So far, the House of Representatives has passed a bill that would increase the amount of the second stimulus check to $2,000, but the Senate has yet to vote on it.

Whether the Senate approves the larger amount or not, the stimulus payments are expected to follow a set order, with some people winding up with a huge head start over others when it comes to the delivery timeline. We’ll explain everything below. (And here’s how to estimate your total with our $600 second stimulus check calculator.) This story has been updated with new information.

People with direct deposit set up are getting their checks first

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 is why this group largely got their first payment faster. Some people have already received their money via direct deposit starting on Dec 29, just days after Trump signed the stimulus bill.

Read more: A third stimulus check in 2021? Here’s why January’s new Congress could hold the key.

With the first stimulus check earlier this year, the IRS took 19 days to build its online tool. On April 15, it sent the first batch of stimulus checks and, in the first week, sent roughly $80 million payments to eligible recipients through direct deposit. People were encouraged to continue registering for direct deposit through May 13 as a way to get their checks faster than through the mail. Some did experience holdups with the tool or with their personal situations. But on the whole, this was the speediest method.

Here are ways you can help speed up delivery of your next check, including what we know now about signing up for direct deposit.


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For Social Security beneficiaries, there are two main scenarios

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.

The IRS had a separate informational section for people who receive SSDI and SSI. Normally, people in these groups receive their federal benefits through a Direct Express card, though people in this group received their stimulus payment through a non-Direct Express bank or a paper check.

Here’s why paper checks will come later

With the first batch of payments, the IRS began to mail checks about a week after it processed the money for people with banking data on file. 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. This time, the IRS said it began send checks in the mail on Wednesday, Dec. 30.

But there’s a 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 by that date would have to claim it in early 2021 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

People who received EIP cards were the last to get their money during the first stimulus round

Economic impact payment debit cards are prepaid Visa cards the IRS mailed to about 4 million people starting in mid-May, a month after the first direct deposit transfers took place. 

This time, the IRS expects to start sending EIP cards this week.

People who have more complex situations are likely to wait the longest

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.

What should you do if you still haven’t received the full amount from the first payment?

It isn’t always clear how much money the IRS might owe you in the event of an error. We suggest starting with our stimulus check calculator 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.

Depending on which group you’re in, we’ve also mapped out some speculative dates for how soon you could potentially get your next stimulus check.



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