November 30, 2020
What's an EIP card and will you get one instead of a second stimulus check or direct deposit?

Second stimulus check: How fast the IRS could send it this time


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The IRS sent the first stimulus check to different groups first.


Angela Lang/CNET

One issue that President Donald Trump and President-elect Joe Biden seem to be publicly in accord about is that lawmakers should resume negotiations to pass another COVID-19 economic rescue package with more stimulus aid.

“Congress must now do a Covid Relief Bill,” Trump tweeted Saturday. “Get it done!”

Biden also called for immediate action: “Now,” he said on Monday. “Not tomorrow. Now.”

A bipartisan agreement must be found soon in order to pass a stimulus package before the end of the year. If Congress fails to pass more aid during the lame-duck session, Biden has a stimulus plan that could enter the conversation more seriously after his inauguration on Jan. 20

Once legislators do pass more aid, the IRS has the opportunity to act faster than it did in the spring when it sent out the first wave of stimulus payments. The systems are already in place to sign up for direct deposit, track your payment and send out paper checks and EIP debit cards to people who aren’t getting a bank transfer. However, there may be a complication if the stimulus bill isn’t approved until Biden’s presidential term. If he appoints a new treasury secretary, there could potentially be a delay as the future appointee gets up to speed.

As with the first stimulus check, though, over 150 million Americans would be expected to qualify for more money, and some adults won’t qualify at all if there’s another round of stimulus money

If the IRS owes you a partial or full payment, which you can verify through our stimulus calculator, you must claim it by the Nov. 21 deadline. We’ve outlined some possible timelines for how soon you might be able to get your stimulus payment, which is determined by priority groups set by the IRS. Read on for more information. This story was recently updated.

Read moreWant your second stimulus check faster? Do these things now

When will I receive the next stimulus check?

These speculative dates show you when you might see a check — if a bill becomes law before or after Inauguration Day on Jan. 20, and bearing in mind Dec. 11, the deadline for Congress to pass the next federal budget.

Read moreNobody can take your stimulus check away, right? Not quite

One important note about the speed at which the first checks might arrive. In August, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said it would take about a week to process the first payments. “I can get out 50 million payments really quickly. A lot of it into people’s direct accounts,” he said

But that doesn’t necessarily mean your stimulus money would arrive a week after a bill went live.

Possible dates a second stimulus check could go out

Scenario 1 Scenario 2 Scenario 3 Scenario 4
House passes final bill Dec 11 Feb 1 Mar 1 Apr 5
Senate passes final bill Dec 12 Feb 2 Mar 2 Apr 6
President signs Dec 13 Feb 3 Mar 3 Apr 7
First direct deposits issued Week of Dec 28 Week of Feb 8 Week of Mar 8 Week of Apr 12
First paper checks sent Week of Jan 11 Week of Feb 16 (Feb 15 is President’s Day) Week of Mar 15 Week of Apr 19
First EIP cards sent Week of Feb 8 Week of Mar 15 Week of Apr 12 Week of May 10

Can the IRS send all the stimulus payments at the same time?

No. To date, the IRS has sent money to at least 160 million people in three ways, starting with people the federal government has direct deposit information for. Some people with more complicated personal situations are still waiting for their checks or even for catch-up payments. This creates a de facto priority order that could result in some Americans receiving their checks days or even weeks before others. 

Read moreEstimate the size of your check with our stimulus calculator

The IRS has said it can deliver 5 million to 7 million paper stimulus checks a week, starting with people whose adjusted gross income, or AGI is less than $20,000, and then moving to people whose AGIs are progressively larger, according to the Government Accountability Office.

We expect the IRS will adopt roughly the same system for sending out a second stimulus check in 2020 or 2021 as it did with the first stimulus check, which was approved in March as part of the CARES Act.


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Direct deposit recipients: People who already have their direct deposit information on file with the IRS or who provide that info when and if registration opens again should be first in line to receive a stimulus check. An electronic transfer of funds is faster and more efficient, which is why this group largely got their first payment faster.

Social Security beneficiaries: With the first stimulus payment, many Social Security beneficiaries who had direct deposit information on file with the federal government received checks in the first week, though not always the first day.

People who get paper checks: The IRS began to mail checks about a week later to those without direct deposit data on file. 

EIP card recipients: Economic impact payment debit cards are prepaid Visa cards the IRS sent to about 4 million people starting in mid-May. If the IRS follows the same payment priority order, this group could begin to see their payment weeks after the first direct deposit transfers take place.

People with more complex situations: This category includes people who received a check after June, are still waiting to receive their stimulus payment or who didn’t know they need to complete an extra step. Direct payments will continue through the end of 2020 for some individuals who weren’t part of the previous groups. Here’s what could be holding up the stimulus check delivery for some people and how to contact the IRS to report a missing, lost or stolen check.

Why haven’t some people received their first stimulus payment?

While over 160 million Americans have received their stimulus checks, the IRS is still trying to track down millions of people who may be owed money, including for dependents.

If you think this situation applies to you, you may be able to claim your missing check by 3 p.m. ET (12 p.m. PT) on Nov. 21. This includes people who didn’t receive $500 allotted for their dependents, some people who are involved in child support situations and nonfilers who may be owed a stimulus check (including older adults and people who receive SSI or SSDI). Otherwise, you may need to claim a catch-up payment or error adjustment as part of your 2020 federal tax return.

money-dollar-bills-cash-stimulus-taxes-covid-coronavirus-america-7018

There’s hope that the IRS could speed up delivery of a second check, if it’s authorized.


Angela Lang/CNET

If you’re a US citizen abroad or live in a US territory and didn’t receive a check as expected, you may also need to investigate. And a new ruling in California may bring hope for people who are incarcerated and didn’t receive the first stimulus check — or who received it and were compelled to return the money.

If you’re still waiting on the first round of payments, you can track the status of your stimulus check, learn how to report your no-show check to the IRS and find possible reasons why your stimulus check still hasn’t arrived. The IRS has said it will continue to send payments through Dec. 10, according to the Government Accountability Office.





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