President Donald Trump signed a $2 trillion-plus COVID-19 and annual federal spending package Sunday providing relief for millions of Americans amid the pandemic, which includes the checks.
The package provides $600 direct payments to individuals making up to $75,000 per year; $1,200 for couples making up to $150,000 per year — with payments phased out for higher incomes — and $600 additional payments per dependent child.
Some direct deposit payments may have arrived as early as Tuesday night for some and will continue into next week. Paper checks will begin to be mailed, Wednesday, Dec. 30.
“Throughout this challenging year, the IRS has worked around the clock to provide economic impact payments and critical taxpayer services to the American people,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig in a statement. “We are working swiftly to distribute this second round of payments as quickly as possible. This work continues throughout the holidays and into the new year as we prepare for the upcoming filing season."
Here are some answers to questions Americans might have about the stimulus checks:
Who is eligible for the second economic impact payment?
Generally, U.S. citizens and resident aliens who are not eligible to be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s income tax return are eligible for this second payment, according to the IRS. Eligible individuals will automatically receive an economic impact payment of up to $600 for individuals or $1,200 for married couples and up to $600 for each qualifying child.
If someone has adjusted gross income for 2019 up to $75,000 for individuals and up to $150,000 for married couples filing joint returns and surviving spouses, they will receive the full amount of the second payment. For filers with income above those amounts, the payment amount is reduced.
What do I need to do to receive the check?
The IRS emphasizes that there is no action required by eligible individuals to receive this second payment. Some Americans may see the direct deposit payments as pending or as provisional payments in their accounts before the official payment date of Jan. 4, 2021.
The IRS reminds taxpayers that the payments are automatic, and they should not contact their financial institutions or the IRS with payment timing questions.
Payments are also automatic for anyone who successfully registered for the first payment online at IRS.gov using the agency’s Non-Filers tool by Nov. 21, 2020, or who submitted a simplified tax return that has been processed by the IRS.
What if I never received the first economic impact payment?
The IRS urges taxpayers who didn’t receive a payment this year to review the eligibility criteria when they file their 2020 taxes; many people, including recent college graduates, may be eligible to claim it.
People will see the economic impact payments (EIP) referred to as the Recovery Rebate Credit (RRC) on Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR since the EIPs are an advance payment of the RRC.
How do I find out if the IRS is sending me a payment?
People can check the status of both their first and second payments by using the Get My Payment tool, available in English and Spanish only on IRS.gov. The tool is being updated with new information, and the IRS anticipates the tool will be available again in a few days for taxpayers.
Will people receive a paper check or a debit card?
For those who don’t receive a direct deposit by early January, they should watch their mail for either a paper check or a debit card, the IRS said. To speed delivery of the payments to reach as many people as soon as possible, the Bureau of the Fiscal Service, part of the Treasury Department, will be sending a limited number of payments out by debit card. Please note that the form of payment for the second mailed EIP may be different than for the first mailed EIP.
Some people who received a paper check last time might receive a debit card this time, and some people who received a debit card last time may receive a paper check.
Will someone on Social Security, other beneficiaries receive a check?
Most Social Security retirement and disability beneficiaries, railroad retirees and those receiving veterans’ benefits do not need take any action to receive a payment, the IRS said. Earlier this year, the IRS worked directly with the relevant federal agencies to obtain the information needed to send out the new payments the same way benefits for this group are normally paid. For eligible people in this group who didn’t receive a payment for any reason, they can file a 2020 tax return.
Will I receive anything for my tax records showing I received a second economic impact payment?
Yes. People will receive an IRS notice, or letter, after they receive a payment telling them the amount of their payment. They should keep this for their tax records.
Why are only $600 checks being sent? I thought it was $2,000.
President Donald Trump and Democrats have pushed for bigger $2,000 COVID-19 relief checks, but it stalled out in the Senate as Republicans blocked a swift vote.
Trump wants the Republican-led chamber to follow the House and increase the checks from $600 for millions of Americans. A growing number of Republicans, including two senators in runoff elections on Jan. 5 in Georgia, have said they will support the larger amount. But most GOP senators oppose more spending, even if they are also wary of bucking Trump.
How much will my stimulus check be?
On direct payments, the bill provides $600 to individuals making up to $75,000 per year and $1,200 to couples making up to $150,000, with payments phased out for higher incomes. An additional $600 payment will be made per dependent child, similar to the last round of relief payments in the spring.
It's still up in the air if the U.S. Senate would pass a standalone $2,000 stimulus check bill. For now, the checks will remain at $600.
Here is a tool from Omni Calculator that may help you determine how much you might receive, based on the $600 number: