IRS now sending stimulus checks to banks, in the mail: When your $1,400 payment could come

$100 bills

How and when will the IRS send your stimulus check? Could tax season throw a wrench in the schedule? Here’s what you need to know.

Stephen Shankland/CNET

Stimulus checks for up to $1,400 per person are coming as part of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion relief package. In fact, over 90 million payments have gone out through direct deposit and 150,000 paper checks have been processed and sent on their way, the IRS said Wednesday. (Here’s how to track your payment with the IRS or USPS.) 

But tens of millions more payments are yet to come — including for people receiving EIP cards and stimulus checks for Social Security recipients — and that could take weeks. In some cases, it may take months for some people to receive their stimulus check total, especially if the IRS uses your 2019 taxes to calculate your stimulus total, and you wind up needing to claim the rest later in 2021 or even 2022. (P.S. Here’s how you could get more tax money in your refund.)

The delivery date of your stimulus finds might also be affected because there are different rules for different groups of people. For example, if you’re in a child support situation, if you’re an older adult, a an income tax non-filer, someone in a mixed-status citizenship family or someone who lives in US territories, there are few things that may delay your money. We go over what to know (and also what we know so far with a potential fourth stimulus check). This story is frequently updated.

When will my third stimulus check arrive?

For the last week, the IRS and the US Treasury have been making electronic transfers to bank accounts — worth up to $242 billion in direct deposit payments to bank accounts, the IRS said March 17. In addition, the Treasury said it sent out 150,000 paper checks, worth approximately $442 million.

Additional batches and payments will go out through all three payment methods: direct deposit, a paper check or an EIP debit card. The dates below are just the beginning. It may still take days or weeks for a payment to be processed and scheduled before you receive it. Other additional complications could also delay your payment. If you moved recently, tell the IRS and USPS.

Stimulus check delivery dates

Stimulus bill passed Congress March 10
Stimulus bill signed into law March 11
First direct deposit sent March 12 (provisional), March 17 (official)
First paper checks sent Week of March 15
First EIP cards sent Week of March 22 possible
SSI and SSDI checks sent Not yet announced
IRS deadline to finish sending checks Dec. 31, 2021 (mandated by the bill)
Last date to receive a check January 2022 (if checks sent late December)
Claims for missing stimulus money open 2021 tax season likely (in 2022)

How do I track my payment status online?

The IRS updates its Get My Payment tracker tool for stimulus checks daily. This online app shows you the status of your payment, including when a check is scheduled for delivery. The IRS portal can also flag if there’s a problem with your payment that you may need to address, but it doesn’t tell you the amount you’ll receive. You can use a free tool from the USPS to track your mailed stimulus payment.

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Stimulus check 3: How much money you’ll get


Does my payment group affect my delivery date?

Yes. The IRS identifies three payment groups based on how your money is sent:

  • Direct-deposit recipients: This group gets its stimulus money in the first wave. For the first two checks sent out as part of relief efforts in 2020, there were problems involving deposits going to temporary accounts that were rejected by banks. In some cases, people caught up in this issue got paper checks or EIP cards instead — or had to wait for the issue to be resolved.
  • Paper checks: This is the payment type the IRS sends out second. A physical check can take weeks to arrive by mail, but the check can be deposited or cashed right away once it arrives.
  • EIP cards: This payment type arrives as a prepaid debit card you must activate online to use. The IRS issues EIP cards last, delaying the payment’s arrival for this recipient group by weeks.

Just because you got your payment through direct deposit the first two times doesn’t mean you’ll get it that way again. The IRS told CNET in January that some people who received their first stimulus payment as a physical check or as an EIP card may have been paid by the other method the second time around. Anecdotally, we also learned of people who received direct deposit payments the first time getting an EIP card in the mail — and not an electronic bank transfer — weeks after the IRS tool said the payment was issued. 

Even tiny errors can cause a delay in you receiving your full or partial payment. (Here’s more information for SSDI and SSI recipients, and other non-filers.)


How you get your stimulus check could influence how soon your payment arrives.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Will the IRS use my 2019 or 2020 tax return to determine my payment total?

Taxes are now due May 17. So how will the IRS figure out how much it owes you? It will calculate your total (you can also do that here) based on the most recent tax filing it’s processed at the time it’s ready to tabulate your check.

If you filed your 2020 taxes early and you know your tax return was already processed, your total will likely be based on your 2020 adjusted gross income, not on your 2019 AGI. That presents complications if the difference between the two years disqualifies you from getting a third stimulus check. (Learn more about some of the stimulus check exceptions and catches here.)

If I get a partial check, when can I claim the rest of my money?

There are several reasons the IRS may owe you stimulus money after it sends out the third round of checks. Maybe the agency processed your 2019 tax return instead of 2020 and there was a discrepancy. Or maybe you had a baby in 2020 that you still need to claim as a dependent. Maybe a clerical error accidentally left out a new dependent. Perhaps your payment never arrived or was accidentally garnished

Whatever the reason, the IRS may provide a way to file for missing stimulus money before the Dec. 31 deadline. If not, you might have to wait a year to claim it, when you file your 2021 taxes in 2022 (even if you’re a non-filer who isn’t typically required to file taxes).


The first two stimulus checks were nominally sorted by different payment groups, and one had a clear advantage over the others.

Sarah Tew/CNET

How long will the IRS send out the new stimulus payments?

Although the IRS and Treasury are sending stimulus checks now, the agencies have until Dec. 31, 2021 to complete distributing the third payments. That’s good news in the sense they aren’t facing a compressed deadline to send out all the checks, as they did with the second stimulus check in December, which only provided them a 17-day window to get the payments out. On the other hand, the nearly nine-month total delivery window also means some people may find themselves waiting, for a variety of reasons. We’ll have to wait and see how the IRS deals with any fringe issues that arise. 

What other stimulus check details should I know?

Stimulus checks aren’t necessarily a one-size-fits-all situation. Here are additional guides for:

And here’s everything you need to know about the third stimulus check, how to calculate your stimulus total and every way the stimulus bill can bring you more money.

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