Whether you want to track the location of your stimulus check, learn how much you're eligible for or see what the schedule looks like, this FAQ can help. We also have the latest updates on stimulus check 2 and the stimulus check 2 calculator, including the potential framework of a second round of direct payments.
The $2 trillion CARES Act relief package aimed to assist those facing financial hardships during the coronavirus pandemic, and the IRS devised a system for sending out stimulus check payments to millions of eligible Americans.
- Stimulus check 2: Senate vote date, eligibility and latest status
- Stimulus check notifications: Know when your payment arrives
- Just in: Second stimulus check isn't dead yet — here's the possible date
But almost three months later, not everyone who qualifies has received their check. The checks take quite some time to send via mail, and with the tax returns deadline pushed back the IRS is still processing paperwork.
Some people may have even thrown out their debit card stimulus payment without knowing. There's also the issue of stimulus checks being sent to the deceased.
Perhaps you've heard the payment be called a “recovery rebate,” rather than a stimulus check. That’s because it’s actually a tax credit that will appear on the tax return you'll file for the 2020-2021 tax year.
While tax returns are usually granted after you file your taxes, the government has brought forward the credit to curb the impact the pandemic has inflicted on American businesses and incomes. These stimulus checks of up to $1,200 may help those who have lost their job or are struggling with finances right now.
Even as stimulus checks continue to roll out, a second round is a subject of debate. Here’s what we know about it, plus answers to all the other questions you might have about the IRS’s stimulus check payments.
Stimulus check status: How to use the IRS tracking portal to find your check
Every week the IRS sends out batches of checks to those who are eligible. But that doesn’t everyone who is eligible has received theirs yet. According to The Washington Post (opens in new tab), some checks may not arrive until September.
You can check the status of your stimulus check using a neat tool the IRS developed. When you fill out a short form on the IRS Get My Payment app, you should be able to view the status of your stimulus check if you're due to get one.
Here’s how it works: Go to the IRS Get My Payment app website (opens in new tab). Click 'Get My Payment' to enter the portal. Click 'OK' on the authorized use page after you've reviewed the terms. Fill out your Social Security number (SSN) or Individual Tax ID (ITIN), your date of birth (MM/DD/YYYY), your street address and your ZIP code. Click 'Continue.'
Stimulus check round 2: Is a second round coming?
A second stimulus package was officially presented on the Senate floor in late July as the HEALS Act, but the timing of when it might arrive is still in limbo.
In addition to $1,200 direct payments, the HEALS Act continues federal unemployment benefits (but for less than $600), offers a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) sequel for business loans, and provides more funding to help schools and COVID-19 testing, treatment and vaccine research.
Stimulus check schedule: When you should get yours
The IRS started mailing out stimulus checks the week of April 13, sending paper payments to more than 5 million eligible taxpayers. It completed the payments of millions more who had set up direct deposit.
Paper stimulus checks will continue to be sent out every week, at the rate of about 5 million per week. The "schedule" depends on your income, meaning how much you make according to your recent tax return will control when your check is sent.
The IRS is sending out the $1,200 paper checks for those with the lowest incomes first, and predicts it will take up to 20 weeks to fulfill all the payments.
No stimulus check?
If you get a 'payment status not available' message when checking your stimulus check status, there could be multiple reasons for that. The easiest answer is that you might make too much money to qualify.
As reported by CNN, another reason for receiving the payment status not available message is that the IRS could still be processing your 2019 tax return. The agency might also be processing the non-filer form that you submitted online. Also keep in mind that the IRS simply hasn't uploaded your data to the tool yet.
You can now call the IRS to get more answers about the status of your stimulus check. The IRS Economic Impact Payment phone number is 800-919-9835. You can call to speak with a live representative if you still have questions after referencing the IRS's website.
If you're still waiting on a payment, you can check out our guide to 5 reasons why you haven't gotten your stimulus check yet.
Stimulus check website: Do you need to sign up?
No, you do not need to sign up for your stimulus check. The government should have a record of how much you make each year based on your tax filings.
The IRS has thus far provided updates as to how many stimulus checks it has sent out, as well as the total amount of those checks.
April 24: 88 million checks, $158 billion
May 8: 127.5 million checks, $217 billion
May 22: 152 million checks, $258 billion
June 4: 159 million checks, $267 billion
The latest numbers do not include the $2.5 billion that the IRS sent to people living in U.S. territories.
If you're a non-filer, you'll need to take a few more steps to ensure you receive your check.
Stimulus check portal for non filers: What to do before the deadline
For those who are not required to file tax returns, you can use the IRS website to enter your payment information. Click here if you're considered a non-filer (opens in new tab).
You have until October 15 to register as a non-filer for your stimulus check.
Stimulus check eligibility: Do you get one?
Stimulus check eligibility depends on how much you earn on the books each year. If you are a U.S. taxpayer that earned less than $75,000 a year according to your most recent tax return, you qualify for the full $1,200 payment.
Married couples who file joint tax returns will receive a $2,400 payment if they have a total income of $150,000 or less.
Note that people on Social Security support don’t need to apply for the payment. Unfortunately, in the rush to get out stimulus checks as quickly as possible, some have been sent to people who have died, according to CNN. And the IRS says those payments need to be returned.
Keep in mind that you must file your taxes to quality for the stimulus check. The IRS has extended the usual April 15 deadline to July 15, but the sooner the government has your 2018-2019 tax information the sooner you can get your payment.
Stimulus check calculator: See the amount you'll get
While individuals who earn more than $99,000 or childless couples earning $198,000 won’t receive any payment, there are many who earn somewhere in between. As long as they've filed their taxes, they will receive prorated amounts.
What does that mean? Well, you'll receive incrementally less than $1,200 as your annual earnings approach $99,000. Check out our guide on using the stimulus check calculator to figure out how much relief you'll get.
Stimulus check debit card: How it works and what to do if you threw it out
About 4 million taxpayers will receive a prepaid debit card from the IRS rather than a physical paper check.
If you don't have a bank account and don't earn tax refunds from the government, the stimulus check debit card will help make it possible to support yourself. It bears the Visa logo and is issued by MetaBank. In addition, there should be a letter included with the card that says it is an Economic Impact Payment Card.
After receiving the card, taxpayers will need to call 1-800-240-8100 to verify their identities. After setting your PIN and signing the back of the card, you should be able to use the stimulus payment card as you would any other debit card. Just be careful not to throw the stimulus check debit card away.
According to a report by NBC News (opens in new tab), some Americans are accidentally throwing their stimulus debit cards out. The reason for this is that the payments come in regular white envelopes that some may confuse with junk mail or unwanted credit card offers. The envelopes don’t have any federal markings and simply say “Money Network Cardholder Services.”
If you throw it away, call the toll-free number 1-800-240-8100 and ask for a replacement card. There's technically a $7.50 fee for this, but a Treasury Department spokeswoman told The Washington Post (opens in new tab) that the fee would be waived for first-time requests.
Stimulus checks for dependents and children
For every child or dependent under the age of 17 (16 or younger), parents who meet the above eligibility requirements will receive an additional $500 economic impact payment.
However, if the child was born or adopted in 2020, parents will not be supplemented because the payments are based on 2019 tax returns. That said, the IRS is allowing new and payment-eligible parents to claim their child on next year's returns for retroactive compensation.
Note that the second round of stimulus checks, which may come from the Heroes act to be voted on soon, removes the age limitations on who qualifies for the $1,200-per-dependent kicker. It does cap the number of dependents at three.
Stimulus check tracking notifications from USPS: Know when your payment arrives with Informed Delivery
There's no need to stalk your mailman while you wait for your stimulus check — the USPS offers a delivery notification service that can tell you exactly where your payment is in transit, and when it will arrive.
Using the free Informed Delivery (opens in new tab) tool, you can track your stimulus check once its been processed by the postal service. Like with items you've ordered online, Informed Delivery will notify you when the envelope containing your payment from the IRS has landed in your mailbox.
Here's how it works: Go to the USPS's Informed Delivery page (opens in new tab) and click 'Sign Up for Free.' Enter your mailing address. Click 'Continue.' If your stimulus check has been processed and is heading towards your address, you're eligible to set up an Informed Delivery account.
Create a username, password and personal security questions. Provide your contact information and click 'Continue.' Click 'Verify identity online' or 'Request invitation code by mail' to verify your account. It's faster and more efficient to do so online, although you can have a code mailed to you as well.
When your account is confirmed, you'll see an email every Monday through Saturday from the USPS with the latest update on your stimulus check delivery. You can also use the Informed Delivery app (iOS (opens in new tab), Android (opens in new tab)) to track your payment.
Stimulus check direct deposit: It passed, so what now?
By setting up direct deposit for your stimulus check you’ll get your check much faster than if you wait for it to come via snail mail. However, if you haven't set it up already, it's too late now. You'll need to wait on the mail for your check.
Mailed checks will start arriving later in May and into June. If a second round of stimulus checks happens, direct deposit might open up again.
Do you pay taxes on your stimulus check?
The short answer is no, you do not have to pay taxes on your stimulus check.
The stimulus check is recognized a tax credit, therefore it is not considered taxable income. Rather, no matter how much your payment is worth, you can deduct it from the total taxes you owe next year.
It will be reflected on your 2020-2021 tax return in your total refund amount, but you won't collect it then because you've already received the advance. If you haven't received your payment, check that you're eligible and have fulfilled the requirements.
Monthly $2,000 stimulus check: Is it possible?
Forbes (opens in new tab) reports that a bill that proposes monthly payments of $2,000 to eligible taxpayers is "gaining steam" with some congressional supporters. The House bill was put forth by Rep. Time Ryan (D-Ohio) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif).
Senator Kamala Harris and entrepreneur Andrew Yang, who were both 2020 presidential candidates, have thrown their support behind a $2,000 a month stimulus check package, with the idea that such checks would be avoidable to anyone earning up to $120,000 per annum.
Harris introduced the Monthly Economic Crisis Support Act, alongside Senator Bernie Sanders and Senator Ed Markey. Under that scheme, the monthly checks would not only apply for individuals, but also married couples would be able to get $4,000 per month and a further $2,000 per dependent would be made available, up to a maximum of three dependents. And the payments would be available to all US residents, regardless of whether they have a Social Security number or file taxes.
“The government should be here for the people in a moment of crisis,” said Harris. “People should be able to count on their government to see them and to create a safety net for them, so that these people don’t fall into poverty—or further into poverty—during the course of this pandemic.”
However, such monthly stimulus check plans have not won the support of Republican politicians. There are concerns that not only would a $2,000 a month stimulus check cost the US government an enormous amount, but it would be challenging to ensure the people who really need the financial boost will get it.
And it would appear that getting the HEROES Act through the Senate would the first hurdle to jump before other stimulus check plans can be properly proposed, let alone brought into effect.
Best ways to spend your stimulus check
If you're fortunate enough to be researching the best ways to spend your stimulus check, you'll want to put the payment to good use. But how to spend your stimulus check depends on your situation, and whether you have enough emergency savings.
Unless you already have 6 months worth of emergency money saved, consider depositing your stimulus check for a rainy day. You'll be gland you have some cash on hand when an unexpected expense comes up.
Confident your savings is padded enough? Examine your debts. If you're dealing with any high-interest debts, specifically from credit card companies, try to pay them back in full. This will help your credit score long term.
Once your savings and debts are in order, and you're looking to get that $1,200 off your hands, you can invest in stocks, bonds, or mutual funds. You could also support local businesses, or donate to those in need. It entirely depends on your circumstances, so weigh your choices wisely.
According to a report in MarketWatch (opens in new tab), researchers have found that many of those who have received stimulus payments are using it to pay rent and bills, as well as for food and non-durable goods. The non-durable category includes such supplies as laundry detergent, paper and other items with a shorter life span.
Stimulus check for deceased: How to return it
In several instances, the IRS has sent stimulus checks to people who are deceased. This week, the agency amended its FAQ page to direct taxpayers about what to do if you've received a payment for someone who has passed.
According the IRS, a check sent to a deceased person must be returned or repaid to the IRS, even if that person has died recently. Here is how to repay the stimulus check (opens in new tab), even if you've already cashed it or you received it via direct deposit.
As for joint taxpayers, this is the IRS's guidance: "Return the entire Payment unless the Payment was made to joint filers and one spouse had not died before receipt of the Payment, in which case, you only need to return the portion of the Payment made on account of the decedent. This amount will be $1,200 unless adjusted gross income exceeded $150,000."
Stimulus check scams and warnings
For any additional stimulus check inquiries or concerns, you should visit the dedicated IRS website (opens in new tab). The IRS will not email or text you updated about your payment, so if you received any correspondence recently in regard to stimulus checks, it’s likely a scam. Use precaution when vetting suspicious messages, and be careful not to click on any links.
Check out our guide to COVID-19 scams for more tips to keep yourself (and your money) safe during these times.