Stimulus check payment: IRS has 10 days until the cutoff. When will yours arrive?

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For many, receiving a second stimulus check before Jan. 15 will be a race against the clock.


Sarah Tew/CNET

The second stimulus checks for up to $600 apiece are being processed and delivered by the IRS and US Treasury at a quick clip. But there’s a catch — wording in the new stimulus package specifies a Jan. 15 deadline for the two agencies to finish making this second round of direct payments., through direct depositpaper checks and EIP cards. (Calculate your stimulus total.) 

So when should you look for your second stimulus check to arrive, and what happens if it you don’t get your money before the mid-January cutoff? For a start, you can track your stimulus check here.

We’ll also explain more about the IRS deadline, direct deposit, how to track a paper stimulus check or EIP card to your mailbox and what happens if you don’t receive your second stimulus check soon after Jan. 15. While you’re here, learn more about the IRS’ formula to for your stimulus total, and a possible third stimulus check. This story was recently updated.

Will second stimulus payments really stop after Jan. 15?

The new $900 billion stimulus legislation sets Jan. 15 as the cutoff date to send stimulus payments. If you don’t receive your full second stimulus check money by then, you will need to claim all or part of the missing amount when you file your federal tax returns in this year as a Recovery Rebate Credit. You’ll also be able to claim any money the IRS still owes you from the first round of checks as a credit.

People who receive their stimulus payment through direct deposit are less likely to be affected. But if there’s any issue or holdup with any of the three payment methods, it means you’ll have to wait until you file a claim — and take the extra step to do so.

Tying the delivery of a second stimulus check to the 2020 tax return will almost certainly delay the payment for many people, since a wide variance in circumstances will cause some to file taxes as early as January and others as late as April 15, or even later if they need to request an extension. It also isn’t clear how quickly the IRS would process payments as a Recovery Rebate Credit.


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Direct deposit payments will continue this week

The IRS send the first direct deposit payments on Dec. 29, saying that the payments will carry on this week. Direct deposits in your bank account may be marked as “pending or “provisional” until Jan. 4, the IRS has said. 

While eligible individuals don’t need to do anything to receive the second payment — providing the IRS already has your banking or mailing information on file — you also can’t do much to influence getting a direct deposit over a mailed check. For example, you can’t register a new direct deposit account with the IRS or correct any banking information you have on file if you closed an account. If the IRS can’t deliver your payment, you’ll need to claim on your taxes.

EIP cards and paper stimulus checks are in the mail, but could some miss the deadline?

If the IRS doesn’t have your current direct deposit information on file, it will send the payment as a check or EIP debit card in the mail — they began going out Dec. 30. It isn’t clear if the IRS has time to process all the tens of millions of payments before Jan. 15. The IRS was able to process between 5 and 7 million a week with the first stimulus check, according to a government report from June.

It may be that some payments won’t make the Jan. 15 deadline. Here’s how you can track your status with the IRS and track your second stimulus check to your mailbox, for free, to set your expectations and to help prevent you from accidentally throwing it away.

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How you get your second stimulus check could also influence how soon your payment arrives.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Sorry, what’s an EIP payment card again?

The IRS said that to speed delivery of the payments, it will send make some payments using an Economic Impact Payment prepaid debit card and notes that 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.

The IRS warns that those who are eligible but don’t receive a direct deposit should watch their mail for a check or EIP debit card. The debit cards will arrive in a white envelope that displays the US Department of the Treasury seal, the IRS said.

2 ways to track your second stimulus check

The IRS has reopened its online Get My Payment tracking tool with information on the the second round of payments. With the free-to-use portal, those who qualify for a check can see the status of both the first and second payments. The website is available in English and Spanish. In addition, you can also use a free tool from the USPS to follow your check’s movements to your mailbox.

What’s the longest I’d have to wait to get my new payment?

People who will receive their second stimulus check in the mail — either as a paper check or a prepaid debit card — should look for a payment anytime from now through Jan. 15. According to the Treasury, 22% of the payments as of last summer were made by paper checks and another 3% by prepaid debit cards

After Jan. 15, you will have to claim any money the IRS owes you with your tax filing in 2021. That could further delay your stimulus check, since the timing would depend on:

  • When you file your 2020 taxes — the deadline could be April 15, unless you file for an extension.
  • How long it takes the IRS to process your tax return, which may also include your second stimulus check.
  • If there are any complications that arise in your specific scenario that could further delay your check.

We’ll keep our eye on the situation, which is constantly evolving. Here’s how to calculate your estimated total now for a $600 per person maximum.



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