Second stimulus payments of $600 are officially on the way for most Americans, government says

Direct deposits have started, will continue into next week

12 million low-income people could miss out on stimulus payments.
12 million low-income people could miss out on stimulus payments. (Will Lanzoni/CNN)

WASHINGTON – The Internal Revenue Service and the Treasury Department have started distributing $600 COVID-19 relief checks to millions of Americans.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said some of the $600 payments were sent to bank accounts as early as Tuesday night. The direct deposits will continue into next week, according to the IRS.

Paper checks will begin to go out starting Wednesday, Mnuchin said.

Americans can check the status of their relief check on the IRS website later this week. (Find an FAQ about the checks at the bottom of this article.)

The second round of the economic impact payments will head to the majority of Americans who received a payment earlier this year when the pandemic hit.

President Donald Trump has pushed for lawmakers to increase the checks from $600 to $2,000 amid a chaotic year-end session.

The bigger relief checks stalled out in the Senate as Republicans blocked a swift vote proposed by Democrats.

A growing number of Republicans have said they will support the larger amount. But most GOP senators oppose more spending, even if they are also wary of bucking Trump.

Senators will be back at it Wednesday as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is devising a way out of the political bind, but the outcome is highly uncertain.

Trump’s push could fizzle out in the Senate but the debate over the size and scope of the year-end package — $900 billion in COVID-19 aid and $1.4 trillion to fund government agencies through September — is potentially one last confrontation before the new Congress is sworn in Sunday.

The COVID-19 portion of the bill revives a weekly pandemic jobless benefit boost — this time $300, through March 14 — as well as the popular Paycheck Protection Program of grants to businesses to keep workers on payrolls. It extends eviction protections, adding a new rental assistance fund.

Americans earning up to $75,000 will qualify for the direct $600 payments, which are phased out at higher income levels, and there's an additional $600 payment per dependent child.

President-elect Joe Biden supports the $2,000 checks and said Tuesday the aid package is merely a “down payment” on what he plans to deliver once in office.

Editor’s note: The following FAQ comes from the IRS.

Authorized by the newly enacted COVID-relief legislation, the second round of payments, or “EIP 2,” is generally $600 for singles and $1,200 for married couples filing a joint return. In addition, those with qualifying children will also receive $600 for each qualifying child. Dependents who are 17 and older are not eligible for the child payment.

Payments are automatic for eligible taxpayers

Payments are automatic for eligible taxpayers who filed a 2019 tax return, those who receive Social Security retirement, survivor or disability benefits (SSDI), Railroad Retirement benefits as well as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Veterans Affairs beneficiaries who didn’t file a tax return. 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.

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. 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. Generally, if you have 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, you will receive the full amount of the second payment. For filers with income above those amounts, the payment amount is reduced.

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.

How will the IRS know where to send my payment? What if I changed bank accounts?

The IRS will use the data already in our systems to send the new payments. Taxpayers with direct deposit information on file will receive the payment that way. For those without current direct deposit information on file, they will receive the payment as a check or debit card in the mail. For those eligible but who don’t receive the payment for any reason, it can be claimed by filing a 2020 tax return in 2021. Remember, the Economic Impact Payments are an advance payment of what will be called the Recovery Rebate Credit on the 2020 Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR.

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. 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.

IRS and Treasury urge eligible people who don’t receive a direct deposit to watch their mail carefully during this period for a check or an Economic Impact Payment card, which is sponsored by the Treasury Department’s Bureau of the Fiscal Service and is issued by Treasury’s financial agent, MetaBank®, N.A. The Economic Impact Payment Card will be sent in a white envelope that prominently displays the U.S. Department of the Treasury seal. It has the Visa name on the front of the Card and the issuing bank, MetaBank®, N.A. on the back of the card. Information included with the card will explain that this is your Economic Impact Payment. More information about these cards is available at EIPcard.com.

Are more people eligible now for a payment than before?

Under the earlier CARES Act, joint returns of couples where only one member of the couple had a Social Security number were generally ineligible for a payment – unless they were a member of the military. But this month’s new law changes and expands that provision, and more people are now eligible. In this situation, these families will now be eligible to receive payments for the taxpayers and qualifying children of the family who have work-eligible SSNs. People in this group who don’t receive an Economic Impact Payment can claim this when they file their 2020 taxes under the Recovery Rebate Credit.

Is any action needed by Social Security beneficiaries, railroad retirees and those receiving veterans’ benefits who are not typically required to file a tax return?

Most Social Security retirement and disability beneficiaries, railroad retirees and those receiving veterans’ benefits do not need take any action to receive a payment. 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.

I didn’t file a tax return and didn’t register with the IRS.gov non-filers tool. Am I eligible for a payment?

Yes, if you meet the eligibility requirement. While you won’t receive an automatic payment now, you can still claim the equivalent Recovery Rebate Credit when you file your 2020 federal income 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.

Where can I get more information?

For more information about Economic Impact Payments and the 2020 Recovery Rebate, key information will be posted on IRS.gov/eip. Later this week, you may check the status of your payment at IRS.gov/GetMyPayment. For other COVID-19-related tax relief, visit IRS.gov/Coronavirus.


About the Authors:

Rebecca Salinas has worked as a digital journalist in San Antonio for six years. Her skills include content management, engagement and reporting.