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Time is running out to get your new stimulus check – here’s what you need to do

January 12th, 2021 at 4:05 PM
New stimulus check
  • The deadline for the IRS and Treasury department to finish sending out millions of Americans a new stimulus check is coming up fast.
  • The stimulus check disbursement process is supposed to be finished by Friday, January 15.
  • Here are some important details to know about how and when you might receive your new stimulus check, if you haven’t already.

The IRS and Treasury Department are scrambling to get as many new stimulus check payments as possible out the door over the next four days, with the January 15 deadline for this new wave of payments fast approaching.

January 15 was the date specified in the recently passed $900 billion COVID relief bill, which was the legislation that made these new $600 stimulus payments possible. Fortunately, the payments this time around have proceeded at a much faster clip than they did in early 2020, when the passage of the $2.2 trillion CARES Act was followed by a stimulus check disbursement process that took many months — which kind of defeated the whole point of the stimulus checks themselves, which lawmakers meant to get into people’s pockets immediately so that the money would be spent quickly and flow back into the economy.

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As of last week, the IRS was already done with an estimated two-thirds of the eligible payments this time around. But distribution errors and assorted glitches have plagued the final payments, so let’s briefly talk about that — and about the need to keep an eye out for the myriad ways your new stimulus check might be sent to you.

You might get the money, if you haven’t already, electronically, in the form of a direct deposit into your bank account. It might also come in the mail as either a paper check or a preloaded debit card, but if for whatever reason you don’t receive your payment by the January 15 deadline, that money will need to come to you as a tax credit. You’ll claim the payment as a credit on your 2020 federal tax return, in other words.

If you have any question about what the status of your payment is, make sure you check out the IRS Get My Payment web portal. Hopefully, the tool will give you a definitive date and partial bank account showing when and where your funds will be direct deposited (And hopefully it’s the correct bank account — some payments have been going to the wrong account, which you can read more about here).

The Get My Payment tool will also display the date that either a paper check or debit card was mailed, and if you fall into this category, be aware that it could take as much as four weeks to receive that piece of mail.

Finally, you might receive a “Not available” message when checking the tool, which means you’ll probably need to claim the stimulus payment on your federal tax return. Don’t call the IRS if you have questions — the tax agency is encouraging people not to, as it’s especially overwhelmed right now with normal tax season questions. If you do still have questions, check out the IRS’s FAQ page here.

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Andy is a reporter in Memphis who also contributes to outlets like Fast Company and The Guardian. When he’s not writing about technology, he can be found hunched protectively over his burgeoning collection of vinyl, as well as nursing his Whovianism and bingeing on a variety of TV shows you probably don’t like.

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