September 22, 2020
Second stimulus check: When the IRS could send a new direct payment and who might receive it first

Second stimulus check: When the IRS could send a new direct payment and who could get it first


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How soon could your second stimulus check come? We lay out some possible dates from when the bill is passed to when your money could actually arrive.


James Martin/CNET

Will you get a second stimulus check in the next few months? The exact timeline hinges on what happens next in a negotiation process that’s dragged on for more than a month. With the Senate back in session (and the House of Representatives returning next week), Republican and Democratic lawmakers are continuing negotiations over a new coronavirus stimulus bill, and both parties say they want to reach a compromise. 

The White House reportedly approved a $1.5 trillion price tag for a new stimulus package, up from the original $1 trillion proposal, according to Politico. The Democrats have also come down from their initial $3 trillion proposal to $2.2 trillion. With that being the case, it’s possible we could start seeing some movement on a finalized bill soon — but we won’t know for sure until it actually happens. 

If Congress passes legislation or if there’s a new executive action to issue stimulus checks using money from emergency pandemic programs, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said it would take about a week for the IRS to start sending out payments.

We took a guess at some possible dates that eligible Americans could see a first check, and at who gets priority over others, if a new round of direct payments is authorized. CNET’s stimulus check calculator can also help you estimate your potential pay. This story is updated often.

Possible dates the IRS could send a new stimulus check

Here are some possible dates that the IRS could send the first checks, based on when a bill could pass or when a unilateral executive order from Trump could occur. For reference, we also include the timeline for the now-expired CARES Act. The payments don’t go out to everyone at once, so read on for which groups of people could get their payment first.

Note that these dates are speculative and change frequently in response to the latest from Washington.

When could the second stimulus checks go out?

Date passed by Senate Date passed by House Date signed First checks sent
Original CARES Act March 25 March 26 March 27 April 15
If Senate passes If House passes If president signs First checks could be sent
Final negotiated bill Sept. 21 Sept. 22 Sept. 23 Week of Sept. 28
Sept. 30 Oct. 1 Oct. 2 Week of Oct. 12
Oct. 16 Oct. 19 Oct. 20 Week of Oct. 26
If order signed Direct deposit could start First paper checks could start First EIP cards could start
Presidential order Sept. 12 Week of Sept. 21 Week of Sept. 28 Week of Oct. 19

Who would get the IRS checks first and who would get them later?

It’s likely the IRS would use roughly the same calculations and tools for sending out the second stimulus check as it did for the first one, including the IRS Get My Payment tool for tracking your stimulus check payment and signing up for direct deposit. (Find out if you’re old enough to get your own stimulus check here.) 

First group: The IRS sent the first batch of stimulus checks to people who had filed 2018 or 2019 tax returns and had already provided the IRS with their direct deposit information, according to the House Committee on Ways and Means. Following that model, the next stimulus payment could first reach people who’ve already registered for direct deposit, either as part of their 2019 tax filing or before.

Second group: The next group were Social Security beneficiaries who had direct deposit information on file with federal agencies. (About 80 million people got their checks through direct deposit in the first week they were disbursed, according to the IRS.) 

Third group: Paper checks didn’t start getting mailed out until about a week later, to people who hadn’t signed up for direct deposit, but you could still register for the electronic bank transfer as late as May 13.

Fourth group: The first Economic Impact Payment debit cards, which are prepaid, began going out in mid-May to about 4 million people.

Fifth group: Anyone who received their checks after June or who is still waiting to receive their stimulus payment. The IRS has told CNET that direct payments will continue through the end of 2020 for some individuals who were not part of the previous groups. Here’s what could be holding up the stimulus check delivery for some and how to contact the IRS to report a missing, lost or stolen check.

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Another stimulus check for up to $1,200 could find its way into your bank account this year. 


Sarah Tew/CNET

Why your stimulus check might arrive later than someone else’s

We won’t know for sure until a new bill is passed and the IRS forms a plan to send out checks, but here are points to consider.

Changes to aid for dependents: This depends on which version of the bill passes. The CARES Act allotted $500 for dependents age 16 and under. The Republican-backed HEALS Act also allocates $500 for dependents, of any age. But the Democratic-backed Heroes Act suggests $1,200 for a maximum of three dependents. If a change is made, even if it ultimately leads to more money being sent, it could require the IRS to adjust its accounting system. That may potentially slow things down for you. (Find out who counts as a dependent here.) 

Banking status: With the first checks, people who didn’t submit direct deposit information to the IRS had to wait longer to receive the stimulus money through the mail. As of June, 120 million people had received the stimulus money via direct deposit, 35 million were sent a check in the mail and 4 million were sent a prepaid debit card. The IRS hasn’t provided an update on how many people received a stimulus check by Aug. 1.


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Banking status has affected the speed of payments since the CARES Act passed, disproportionately impacting Black Americans and other people of color, according to an analysis by the think tank Urban Institute. People who are white and whose incomes were above the poverty line were more likely to have received their first stimulus check by the end of May than people who are Black, Hispanic or below the poverty line, the analysis found. 

People who didn’t make enough money to be required to file federal income tax returns in 2018 or 2019 also would not get a stimulus check unless they submitted a form to the IRS, according to a report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. This group includes low-income families with children and a far greater number of Black people and people of color.

The last date you might receive another stimulus check

Once again, the schedule for the first stimulus checks may provide an indication, but there’s no official news until another relief package is finalized.

The IRS will have sent about 200 million checks by the time the agency is done distributing the first raft of payments. (The total US population is over 330 million people, according to the Census Bureau.) The majority of those were sent by the beginning of June, though the IRS said it will continue to send payments through the end of the year. 

It’s likely that the IRS has streamlined its system enough to send checks to more people faster, but if the first round is any indication, there could be complications that could delay a second payment for you. Here are common hurdles that held up the first stimulus check for some.

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Some Americans are still waiting for their first stimulus check to arrive.


Sarah Tew/CNET

If you need additional help

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.

And here are resources about coronavirus hardship loans and unemployment insurance, what you can do if you’ve lost your job, what to know about evictions and late car payments, if you could receive two refund checks from the IRS and how to take control of your budget.

Shelby Brown contributed to this report.



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