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You don’t have to guess when your new stimulus check will arrive – here’s how to find out

Published Dec 31st, 2020 12:37PM EST
New stimulus check
Image: Andy Dean/Adobe
  • Millions of Americans are getting a new stimulus check for $600, the disbursement process for which is underway now.
  • Most of the new stimulus checks will show up as direct deposits in bank accounts.
  • For some people, however, the new payments won’t come right away. If you haven’t given your direct deposit information to the IRS, it will take a little longer to get your new stimulus check — which will have to be mailed in paper form.

The second round of stimulus payments has finally started going out — and as we all prepare to say goodbye to 2020, here’s one good thing to look forward to as we herald the imminent arrival of a New Year. Millions of Americans can at least anticipate getting a new stimulus check much faster than they did the first time around.

Last week, Congress passed a $900 COVID relief which includes funding for new $600 stimulus checks, most of which will be sent out in the form of direct deposits into peoples’ bank accounts. That’s according to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, who said the $600 check disbursements have already begun.

Generally, the process of sending out the new payments should be smoother than we saw back in March in the wake of Congress passing the $2.2 trillion CARES Act (which made possible the first wave of $1,200 stimulus check payments). New systems had to be set up to track the payments, and the IRS had to intake people’s bank account information in order to process the direct deposits, which meant that some people didn’t start receiving their payments until a few months after the fact — somewhat defeating the purpose of the direct payments. The stimulus checks were designed to put money into peoples’ hands so that they would spend it immediately and help resuscitate the economy.

However, for some people, it might still take another week or two for this new $600 stimulus check to arrive. And here’s why.

If you’ve never gotten a direct deposit from the IRS before, probably because the tax agency doesn’t have your direct deposit information, you’ll have to wait for a paper form of the new stimulus check to arrive in the mail.

Paper checks began to be mailed out on Wednesday. Fortunately, the COVID relief bill includes a mandated deadline of January 15, at which point the direct payments are supposed to stop (and hopefully be finished at that point). “The IRS emphasizes that there is no action required by eligible individuals to receive this second payment,” the tax agency said in a news release. “Some Americans may see the direct deposit payments as pending or as provisional payments in their accounts before the official payment date of January 4, 2021. The IRS reminds taxpayers that the payments are automatic, and they should not contact their financial institutions or the IRS with payment timing questions.

“Anyone who received the first round of payments earlier this year but doesn’t receive a payment via direct deposit will generally receive a check or, in some instances, a debit card. For those in this category, the payments will conclude in January. If additional legislation is enacted to provide for an additional amount, the Economic Impact Payments that have been issued will be topped up as quickly as possible.”

That latter point is a reference to the possibility, long shot as it may be, of Congress passing legislation that raises the new stimulus check amounts to $2,000 from $600.

Andy Meek
Andy Meek Trending News Reporter

Andy Meek is a reporter who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming. Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.