Amidst the changing financial landscape caused by COVID-19, government-issued stimulus checks that are part of the $2.2 trillion economic rescue bill recently passed by lawmakers have been a source of both hope and frustration for many potential recipients. While many people who have filed taxes for 2018 and 2019 electronically and previously received refunds from the IRS have already received their stimulus check via direct deposit, others have been denied checks or cannot locate the status of their payment. According to Accounting Today, new information suggests that some stimulus checks may not actually arrive until September.

Background on Stimulus Checks

Coronavirus stimulus checks are designed to alleviate the financial burden caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in accordance with the passage of the CARES Act in March. The checks will amount to $1200 for each qualifying adult making up to $75,000 per year. There is also a $500 add-on for each dependent child in a household. High earners may still be eligible to receive funds, although the amount decreased for those with wages over $75,000/year. Taxpayers who make $99,000 per year or more are ineligible for relief.

Stimulus Check Timeline

The IRS began issuing stimulus checks via direct deposit in mid-April. The first recipients seem to be those who have previous received refunds for their 2018 and/or 2019 taxes electronically. Electronic payments can take up to three weeks to process, according to Accounting Today. The IRS is expected to begin mailing out paper checks in Mid-May. 

Here’s where it gets tricky: IRS spokepeople have stated that they will be sending approximately 5 million checks per week. Since over 100 million total checks need to be issued, the final round of payments may not be sent out and received until September. The good news is that the checks will be sent out to lower-income individuals first since the IRS is utilizing reverse adjusted gross income to determine the order of issue.

How to Speed Up the Process

The IRS is encouraging everyone who is able to do so to file their 2019 tax return so that the IRS has updated direct deposit payment information. This may affect the timeline of your stimulus check. If you are a Social Security recipient and don’t file regular yearly taxes, you may want to file a “simple tax return” in order to receive your payment faster.

The IRS also expects to open an online portal that will allow taxpayers to update their direct deposit information as well as track the status of their payment in May. Updating your information in this portal may speed up the process of your check issue.

While the news of the potential delay in stimulus payments may be frustrating for some, the IRS seems to be aware of the urgent financial needs of those affected and is taking steps to inform eligible recipients on what they can do to get paid faster. Filing your 2019 taxes and updating your direct deposit in the upcoming IRS portal seem to be the most highly recommended methods to expedite the stimulus check process and may help to alleviate the financial burden caused by the Coronavirus pandemic.

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