IRS mails out first coronavirus $1,200 stimulus checks: Work out your payment schedule


As part of the 2020 stimulus package, you may be eligible for a payment from the federal government.

Angela Lang/CNET

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The IRS is now sending out the first wave of economic impact payments to tens of millions of US residents who are eligible for a stimulus check, in the mail and through direct deposit. If you meet the requirements for a payment but have not set up direct deposit with the agency, the IRS plans to mail up to 5 million paper checks a week and has created a schedule for mailing these payments (more below). Some CNET readers tell us they’ve been notified their coronavirus stimulus checks of up to $1,200 each were mailed last Friday, April 24, and others readers report the IRS notified them they’ll receive their payments this Thursday, April 30 or Friday, May 1.

If you meet the requirements for an impact check but haven’t set up direct deposit with the IRS yet, you still have time to receive your payment in your bank account, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said. But some who expect a payment and meet the qualifications need to act quickly: The IRS said Supplemental Security Income and Veterans Affairs beneficiaries with dependents need to update the agency soon to receive their full payment this year.

We’ll break down what you need to know if you haven’t received your 2020 economic impact payment yet: How to find out if you’re eligible and how much money you could get. How to update the IRS on with your banking information. What to do if you’re usually exempt from filing taxes or receive federal benefits. How to track your 2020 stimulus check if you don’t see the total post in your bank account — although some are experiencing problems with the Get My Payment tool. And which date you can expect your check.

Plus, here’s more personal finance information on how you should spend the stimulus moneyhow to avoid COVID-19 scams, how coronavirus affects your rent payment and how else you can get financial relief during the coronavirus outbreak.

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When will the checks will go out?

More than 88 million US residents who set up direct deposit with the IRS began receiving their stimulus money in the middle of April. And the IRS began issuing paper checks last week, according to the US House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means.

According to the committee, the IRS intends to send out payments — both direct deposit and through the mail — on a weekly schedule until everyone eligible receives their rebate payment. To meet that goal, the IRS expects to send 5 million paper checks per week, issued in reverse “adjusted gross income” order, sending out payment for the lowest incomes first, the committee said. The IRS estimates it could take up to 20 weeks for everyone eligible for a check to receive one in the mail.

You can get an idea of where your check falls on the spectrum by doing a quick calculation — see below for more information.

Those who set up direct deposit will receive their payments much quicker: The committee said those who enter their direct deposit information into the Get My Payment portal by the Thursday of a given week may get their payment as soon as the following week. We’ve asked the IRS for clarification.

Here’s what we know about tracking your stimulus payment. If you moved since the last time you filed your taxes, here’s where you can update your address with the IRS.

Is the money yours, free and clear?

Yes. You don’t have to pay taxes on any stimulus payment you receive from the IRS. It’s also not an advance on your usual tax refund. If you get a check now, your 2019 tax refund won’t be smaller as a result. You can spend the total of your stimulus money just like cash.


Your government money is on its way.

James Martin/CNET

How much stimulus money you get depends on your taxes

The total amount of your stimulus check will be based on your adjusted gross income, or AGI, from your 2019 federal tax filing or — if you haven’t filed this year — your 2018 filing.

If you’ve filed your 2019 federal tax return, you can find that figure on line 8b of the 2019 1040 federal tax form. It’s line 7 on the 2018 1040 tax form. If you haven’t filed this year, don’t worry. The US government has delayed the due date for 2019 taxes to July 15 as a result of coronavirus.

Here’s who is eligible for a stimulus payment

The amount you’ll receive will depend on your total income in 2019 or 2018. If you qualify, you’ll receive one payment. Here’s who qualifies:

  • If you’re a single US resident and have an adjusted gross income less than $99,000
  • If you file as the head of a household and earn under $146,500
  • If you file jointly without children and earn less than $198,000

Read on for how your payment is calculated and how much you can expect. You can also look at this calculator from the Washington Post.


Every little bit helps.

Angela Lang/CNET

How much you’ll get as a single taxpayer

A single US resident must have a Social Security number and an AGI under $75,000 to receive the full amount of $1,200. The sum decreases as your AGI goes up. If your adjusted gross income reaches $99,000, you won’t be eligible for the stimulus. 

Heads of household

If you file as head of a household, you will get the full $1,200 payment if your AGI is $112,500 or less, with the amount decreasing until you reach $146,500.

Couples filing jointly

Married couples filing jointly without children with an adjusted gross income below $150,000 will get a $2,400 payment, decreasing to zero at $198,000.

For children

For each child aged 16 or younger in the family, parents will get a payment of $500. Parents will not receive a payment for children born, adopted or placed into foster care in 2020 because the payment is based only on information from your 2019 or 2018 tax return. The IRS said you may claim the child next year for an additional credit on your 2020 tax return. Older children and other dependents may not be eligible for a payment.

If you haven’t filed federal taxes for 2018, do that right now

The IRS said if you haven’t filed your 2018 federal taxes, that could affect your stimulus check and urges anyone who hasn’t filed a 2018 tax return to file now. Be sure to include direct deposit banking information on the return.

Read more: The best tax software for 2020: TurboTax, H&R Block, TaxSlayer and more

If you’re not typically required to file a tax return, you could still receive a payment

Many who normally are not required to file a tax return — including senior citizens, Social Security and Social Security Disability Insurance recipients and railroad retirees — will not need to file a simple tax return to receive the payment, the IRS said.

The IRS said recipients of Supplemental Security Income will automatically receive the full $1,200 economic impact payment, with no action needed on their part. The IRS projects payments for these recipients will go out by early May.

Others, including those who haven’t filed a 2018 or 2019 return because they are under the normal income limits for filing a tax return, can use the Non-Filers portal to get their payment. To get started, go to the IRS’ Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here site and tap the Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here button. As part of the process, you’ll enter personal information and, if you want to receive your stimulus check by direct deposit, banking information.

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What about Social Security recipients?

The Treasury Department said that Social Security beneficiaries who are not typically required to file tax returns will not need to file an abbreviated tax return to receive a payment. Instead, the IRS will use the information on Form SSA-1099 for Social Security beneficiaries who did not file tax returns in 2018 or 2019.

The IRS said automatic payments are scheduled to being arriving this week for recipients of Social Security, survivors or disability insurance benefits and Railroad Retirement benefits.

What about those who receive federal benefits and have children?

The IRS said those who receive federal benefits, have dependent children and weren’t required to file a tax return in 2018 or 2019 may need to act soon to receive a full payment this year.

The group includes those who receive SSI or VA benefits.

Those who meet those prerequisites should use the Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here tool to provide the IRS with information about themselves and their qualifying children. This will automatically add the $500 per dependent child payment to their $1,200 individual payment this year.

Without submitting this information now, the IRS will give you $1,200 this year and the additional $500 per eligible child with your return filing for tax year 2020 — roughly a year from now.

SSI and VA beneficiaries have until May 5 to update the IRS.

The update deadline for who receive Social Security, survivor or disability, or Railroad Retirement benefits was Wednesday, April 22. The IRS said recipients in those groups will begin to receive checks this week.

For more on how to use the Non-Filers tool, see the section above titled “If you’re not typically required to file a tax return…” to learn more.

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You can also set up direct deposit to have the check sent to your bank account

If you don’t have direct deposit to your bank account set up, but you want to receive the payment electronically, the IRS’ online tool is available now. Here’s what we know about that. To avoid scams, the IRS cautions you not to provide your direct deposit or other banking information to others who offer to help you set up an electronic transfer.

Do you need to sign up, apply or request your check?

For most, the federal government will automatically send your check to you electronically or in the mail, if you qualify. If you’ve not filed a tax return for 2018 or 2019, the IRS said you may need to file one to receive a payment. Scroll up to the section “If you’re typically not required to file a tax return, you can still receive a payment” for details on who is required to file and how.

What to do if you don’t receive your check

If you qualify for a payment, the IRS plans to mail you a letter about your payment to your last known address within 15 days after it sends the money.The IRS said the letter will provide information on how the IRS made the payment and how to report not receiving the payment if you don’t get it. Several CNET readers, however, are reporting the letter does not include instructions for what to do if you don’t receive the payment. We’ve asked the IRS for clarification.

We have tips for how best to use your stimulus check and how to avoid being scammed. In addition to the economic stimulus package, the US government delayed the income tax filing deadline to July 15. If you need more help, here’s how to get financial relief.