When your next stimulus check could arrive: These are the 4 key things to know

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How quickly could the IRS send your money? We have some potential dates.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Are we any closer to knowing when a second stimulus check could arrive? Not exactly, though the direct payment has garnered so much support in some corners, that vocal members of Congress say they won’t vote for any coronavirus relief aid that doesn’t include another check. Others are suggesting a bill for the last days of 2020 should swap out some measures and swap the stimulus check — which is currently left out of a $908 billion bipartisan proposal — back in.

So what would it take for a stimulus check to come in 2020 and even if it did, would you see it before 2021? How quickly could the IRS jump on sending a new check, whenever it’s approved? And if that happens, how long will you have to wait for your money to personally arrive

Read on for the four key things to know about, and also keep in mind that some people could get a larger check, some a smaller check than before, and others won’t qualify to get another round of stimulus aid. (Here’s how to estimate your stimulus amount.)

We recently updated this story.


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When will Congress vote on a new stimulus bill?

This isn’t clear. Some are eyeing next week. Others, like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have said it’s important to take the time needed to craft the right bill. 

“Now, if we need more time, then we take more time,” Pelosi said Thursday. “But we have to have a bill and we cannot go home without it.”

Since we can’t officially rule out another stimulus check yet, you’ll see that possibility reflected in Scenario 1 in the chart below.

After President-elect Joe Biden becomes US president on Jan. 20, the new administration could try again for a larger bill that could include another direct payment. That would mean a check would likely go out in February at the earliest. See the chart below for possible dates. (Here are separate stimulus measures Biden could take if there’s no stimulus bill by inauguration).

Read moreHow big will your next stimulus check be? Calculate your estimate

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Hanging on to hope of a second stimulus check? You’re not alone.


Sarah Tew/CNET

How long could it take the IRS to send more stimulus checks?

In August, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said it would take about a week from the time that another direct payment is approved to the time the IRS could process the first batch. 

“I can get out 50 million payments really quickly. A lot of it into people’s direct accounts,” Mnuchin said then. 

If a check doesn’t arrive until 2021, there will be a new Treasury secretary — it isn’t clear if a transition of power would cause a delay in sending out money. Biden has selected Janet Yellen, the previous chair of the US Federal Reserve, for the Treasury position, though she would need to be confirmed by the Senate before taking office.

Even if the checks were to go out faster the second time by following the existing IRS protocol from the first payment, that doesn’t necessarily mean your stimulus money would arrive a week after a bill went live. The following section explains more.

On which date could I expect my second stimulus check to arrive?

Here’s one stimulus check truth of many: Not everyone will get a payment at the same time. With the first check, the IRS divided stimulus payments into three main groups depending on the form in which you received the money. We explain more in the next section.

In the chart below, these speculative dates show when you might see a payment. The second scenario is possible if the House and Senate are called back to vote and the session officially extended. We also sketched out two timelines if a bill becomes law after Biden’s Inauguration Day on Jan. 20 to give you an idea of how long you might have to wait.

Possible dates a second stimulus check could go out

Scenario 1 Scenario 2 Scenario 3 Scenario 4
House passes final bill Dec. 16 Feb. 1 March 1 April 5
Senate passes final bill Dec. 17 Feb. 2 March 2 April 6
President signs Dec. 18 Feb. 3 March 3 April 7
First direct deposits issued Week of Dec. 28 Week of Feb. 8 Week of March 8 Week of April 12
First paper checks sent Week of Jan. 4 Week of Feb. 16 (Feb. 15 is President’s Day) Week of March 15 Week of April 19
First EIP cards sent Week of Feb. 1 Week of March 15 Week of April 12 Week of May 10

Direct deposit, EIP card, paper check and you

The three groups you see above are just the beginning. They represent the IRS’ staggered timeline for sending out payments with the first stimulus check. We dive more into the five stimulus check payment priority groups here.



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