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Here’s when you can expect your $600 stimulus check to arrive

December 28th, 2020 at 3:21 PM
New stimulus check
  • Millions of Americans will get a new stimulus check for $600 now that President Trump has signed the $900 billion COVID relief bill.
  • In terms of when the new checks will go out, the first wave should begin in a matter of days, with the vast majority of disbursements comprised of direct deposits into recipients’ bank accounts.
  • The COVID relief bill includes a deadline of January 15, at which time no more of the new $600 stimulus checks will be sent out.

Pretty much the entirety of the Washington DC establishment, as well as the media and millions of people struggling economically as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, breathed a collective sigh of relief on Sunday night upon word that President Trump had given in and signed the $900 billion COVID relief bill — notwithstanding his complaints that the direct payments to Americans needed to be bigger than $600 per person. He apparently was assured that Congress would get right on that and pass some sort of standalone legislation to make good on the president’s demand for $2,000 checks, although it seems highly unlikely Congress will actually do that now.

Regardless, here we are, and now there’s a new question on everyone’s mind — when will the $600 stimulus checks be sent out? Fortunately, a timeline has emerged, and the answer to that question is “very soon.”

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Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin originally promised that the first wave of new stimulus checks would be sent out this week. That pretty much had to be the case, since the COVID relief bill includes a baked-in deadline of January 15. The IRS and the US Treasury have to stop sending out this new batch of stimulus checks by that date.

Congress loves to make things harder than they need to be, which may explain why that deadline was spelled out in the bill. Remember, it took several months for most people to receive their first stimulus check earlier this year after the passage of the $2.2 trillion CARES Act — and some people are actually still waiting on that check.

Before we get into the timeframe for these new checks, here’s what you need to know about the January 15 deadline. If you haven’t received your check by then, you will need to claim either the full or missing amount when you file your federal tax return in April of 2021 through what’s called the Recovery Rebate Credit. Claiming the stimulus money that never arrived will either lower your tax obligation or give you a refund if you don’t owe any taxes.

Now, let’s talk about when the $600 stimulus checks will start arriving in bank accounts. Mnuchin previously committed to the first batch arriving the week following passage of the bill. President Trump wasted some of that time by dragging out his signing of the legislation, which in all likelihood kicks the first wave into next week. Moreover, Mnuchin further committed in a December 21 interview to finishing up the vast majority of new stimulus check disbursements (most of which will be done via direct deposits into the recipients’ bank accounts) within three weeks.

That happens to fall right within the window of time the January 15 deadline provides. Which is to say, most people should receive their checks before January 15 and won’t have to bother with claiming the money on their taxes after the fact. After all, the whole point of the stimulus checks in the first place was to put money into peoples’ hands now, to entice them to spend it and put it back into the moribund, pandemic-stricken economy.

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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