For the millions of Americans eligible for a second coronavirus stimulus check, staying on top of your payment will be even more crucial this time around.
That’s because the Internal Revenue Service and the Treasury Department have a shorter window to deliver those payments than they did back in March, when President Donald Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act into law. Now, Congress is giving the two parties until Jan. 15 to disburse the second round of Economic Impact Payments (as they’re officially known) — either through direct deposit, physical check or debit card.
President Trump signed the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 into law on Dec. 27.
With just days left in the delivery timeline, here’s everything you need to know about tracking your stimulus check, as well as eligibility and what to do if you don’t receive your check by the cutoff date.
Who is eligible for the second stimulus check?
One good rule of thumb for determining whether you’re eligible for the second round of payments: If you were eligible to receive the full amount before, you’ll be eligible again.
Income requirements are still the same for both individual and married tax filers, while income information is still based on your 2019 or 2018 tax return (whichever is your most recent filing).
If you earn up to $75,000 (based on annual adjustable gross income, or AGI) you’re slated to get the full relief check of $600. Married couples will thus receive $1,200 (two $600 checks) as long as their combined AGI doesn’t top $150,000.
But the point at which payments completely phase out for Americans happens sooner on the income scale, simply because checks have been cut in half from $1,200 to $600.
Individuals’ total payments decrease by $5 for every $100 above the $75,000 or $150,000 threshold. An individual who earned $80,000 in 2019, for example, would get a $350 check. But individuals and married filers would be eligible for a partial check up until earning $87,000 and $174,000, respectively. That’s down from $99,000 and $198,000, respectively, with the first round of payments.
Individuals and couples are eligible to receive another $600 payment per child under age 17.
If you’re ineligible for a stimulus payment but currently out of work, here’s how to apply for unemployment benefits.
When will your stimulus check arrive?
The stimulus payments are being distributed to taxpayers either by direct deposit or by paper checks or debit cards arriving by mail. If you’ve been paying your taxes via direct deposit, the IRS should already have your banking information on file and will make the payment directly to your bank account. For those receiving their stimulus money this way, payments have already begun, starting on Dec. 29.
For direct deposit, the IRS uses data already in its system to determine which bank account to send the payment to. That includes attaching a routing and account number to your 2019 tax filing, as well as inputting one earlier in 2020 for receiving your first stimulus check.
Those receiving payments by mail will have to wait a little longer. The IRS and Treasury Department started mailing those checks out Dec. 30 and will continue until Jan. 15.
In most cases, individuals aren’t required to take action to receive their checks, according to a Treasury Department release. And if an additional round of coronavirus fiscal relief increases those checks’ amount, the ones that were already issued will be topped up as quickly as possible, the statement said.
How do I check the status of my stimulus payment?
But waiting on your stimulus check can be an anxiety-ridden process, especially at a time when nearly 20 million Americans are out of work. Use the Treasury Department’s tracker:
- Visit the “Get My Payment” page that the IRS has set up on its website.
- To monitor the status of your payment and track it, click (or tap) on the blue “Get My Payment” button.
- You’ll be taken to a page about authorized use; go ahead and click (or tap) OK.
- On the Get My Payment page, enter your Social Security number (or taxpayer ID number), your date of birth, your address and zip code. When finished, click (or tap) the continue button.
- This leads to a payment status page, which informs you of the status of your payment and when it can be expected. (You may also be told that the service cannot determine your status.)
What happens if you don’t receive your payment by Jan. 15?
If you haven’t received your payment yet, don’t panic, although it’s easier said than done. The last round of payments are set to go in the mail right on the Jan. 15 deadline, meaning it might take three to four weeks before you receive your physical stimulus check or debit card, according to the IRS. All of that means you might want to sit tight even after the Jan. 15 deadline.
Consider signing up for the U.S. Postal Service’s informed delivery service, so you know in advance of any mail you’ll be receiving on a given day.
But even if you don’t receive your payment, you can still take steps to ensure that you receive those funds. When you file your 2020 taxes, you’ll be able to secure your second check (and your first, if you never received it) by filling out a Recovery Rebate Credit. The Treasury Department also recommends saving a letter called “Notice 1444, Your Economic Impact Payment” for your tax records, which you’ll need both to file your taxes and apply for a rebate credit.
- Survey: 31% of Americans expecting a stimulus check say it won’t keep them going a month
- Don’t have direct deposit set up during the coronavirus pandemic? Here’s what to do
- Stimulus checks: What consumers should consider doing with the money
Note: Daniel Bukszpan contributed to a previous version of this story.