September 25, 2020
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Stimulus check 2 update: How quickly could the IRS send a payment? Here are some possibilities


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A second stimulus check is being worked on, but the payment schedule is still unknown. We break down some likely scenarios.


Sarah Tew/CNET

With talks on a new economic stimulus package at a standstill and both chambers of Congress pausing for the present any legislative action in August, a timeline for when you might receive your next stimulus check is less clear now than it has been for weeks. The stalled debate about the next rescue bill has less to do with another $1,200 stimulus check for those who qualify and more about the total size and contents of the package. (Here’s how the current proposal from the Republicans, called the HEALS Act, compares to the previous stimulus bill.)

If and when the White House and Democratic negotiators do return to the table to hammer out an agreement — and here are five reasons we think that might happen — Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said that he can get a new check out faster than the first stimulus check.

But when could that actually happen? That all depends on when both sides renew serious negotiations. If talks start up again and the sides strike a deal, we’ve calculated some possible dates you could get your first check.

This story was recently updated with new information.

How quickly the IRS could deliver the second stimulus checks

Several scenarios could play out. Republicans and Democratic negotiators could pick discussions back up and reach an agreement this month, or negotiations could slide into September. Complicating the timeline, both parties hold their national conventions later this month — the Democrats the week of August 17 and the Republicans the week after.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives is now adjourned until Friday, Aug. 14 and the Senate is adjourned till after Labor Day.

Here are some possible first dates that a second stimulus check could pass. For reference, we also include the timeline for the now expired CARES Act as a point of reference. And keep reading for who could get their payment first.

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 Aug. 24 Aug. 25 Aug. 26 Week of Sept. 14
Sept. 8 Sept. 9 Sept. 10 Week of Sept. 21
Sept. 14 Sept. 15 Sept. 16 Week of Sept. 28

Who would get their stimulus check first?

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

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 have already registered for direct deposit, either as part of their 2019 tax filing or before.

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.) 

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. The first Economic Impact Payment debit cards, which are prepaid, were sent in mid-May to about 4 million people. 

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


Sarah Tew/CNET

Why your stimulus check could arrive later than other people’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 Democrat-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 could potentially slow things down for you. 

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 received the stimulus money through direct deposit, 35 million through a check in the mail, and 4 million through 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 people of color, according to an analysis (PDF) 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.

When’s the latest date you could receive the new stimulus check?

Once again, the schedule for the first stimulus checks can provide a potential roadmap, but there’s no official news until another rescue 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.

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US workers are experiencing a staggeringly high unemployment rate.


Angela Lang/CNET

How you can get more help

If you’re still waiting on the first round of coronavirus 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.

Here are even more 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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