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Confirmed: Stimulus checks going out now. 9 things to know about delivery dates today

Do you really know how your stimulus check will arrive? Could tax season throw a wrench in the plan? Here’s what you should know.


Stephen Shankland/CNET

The $1,400 stimulus checks (calculate your total here) have officially starting going out through direct deposit, according to an announcement Friday from the US Treasury. The agency began “processing the first batch of these payments today, which some recipients will start receiving as early as this weekend, and with more receiving this coming week.” These payments are the first to arrive after President Joe Biden signed the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill Thursday. Neither the IRS nor US Treasury has confirmed that payments have begun.

While payments may start in earnest over the weekend, the White House has acknowledged it will take weeks to send the entire batch of stimulus checks to over 100 million people (the second payments were sent to more than 147 million recipients). Tracking your new stimulus check online will be a good start, but there are a lot of other factors that could affect when you get your stimulus money.

For example, with tax returns due April 15, the IRS will have to process new payments using either 2019 or 2020 taxes (here’s why it matters). There’s also the matter of how long it takes to actually deliver your payment. If the IRS switches your payment group around, would you get your stimulus money sooner, or be part of a later wave? What if a rule change means your check winds up being garnished? We’ll walk you through what we know. This story was updated with new information.

Direct deposits have begun

The Treasury and IRS said they have started sending out on Friday the first payments, with more going this weekend and over coming weeks, by direct deposit and through the mail as a check or debit card.

More than four dozen banks and financial institutions have started receiving stimulus check transfers through direct deposit, according to a list of over 300 banks maintained by the r/stimuluscheck forum on Reddit, which is monitoring banks and financial services for payments to financial accounts.

The banks and services that the forum reports receiving payments today include Bancorp Bank, Chime and Navy Federal Credit Union. Some on the forum report the money has been posted and is pending and not yet authorized for use.

Stimulus check: Potential delivery dates (these could change)

Stimulus bill passed Congress March 10
Stimulus bill signed into law March 11
First direct deposit sent March 13 or 14 (officially)
First paper checks sent Week of March 22 possible
First EIP cards sent Week of March 29 possible
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)

The stimulus check weekend window is just the beginning

Now that the deposits have reportedly started, tens of millions of direct deposit recipients could receive their money this weekend, but the White House has acknowledged that this is a first wave, and the effort to send all the checks will take weeks. People who receive their payment as a physical check or EIP card should expect that the IRS will process their checks after the direct deposit folks, and the stimulus money could take weeks to actually arrive. 

Any additional complications could also delay your payment. The schedule below reflects our best guesses, based on the IRS’ timeline for the previous $600 stimulus check. The timeline isn’t final, and we’ll continue to update with information as we learn more.


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Stimulus check 3: How much money you’ll get



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You’ll be able to track your payment schedule online

The IRS is expected to turn on its online tracking tool for stimulus checks soon. Based on the first two checks, we’d anticipate this happening early next week. That’s because it takes the agency a little time to update the tool with new information. Even then, there are some things to understand about how the tool can help provide important information about your payment. We’ll update this section when we know more about when the tool will come online.

Your stimulus check could come weeks after the first delivery date

What we learned from the first two checks is that how you get your stimulus money often dictates when you’ll get it. Roughly, this is broken into three groups:

  • Direct-deposit recipients: Typically got their stimulus money in the first wave. But both times there were issues involving deposits going to temporary accounts that were rejected by banks. In some cases, these people got paper checks or EIP cards instead, or had to wait for the issue to resolve.
  • Paper checks: This is the payment type the IRS sent 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 issued EIP cards last, delaying the payment’s arrival for this recipient group by weeks.

Remember, it takes time for the IRS to process the well over 100 million payments expected in this third round of checks. Even tiny errors could cause a delay in you receiving your full or partial payment. (Here’s more information for SSDI and SSI recipients, and other nonfilers.)

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


Sarah Tew/CNET

The IRS could switch your payment group, again

Just because you got your payment by direct deposit the first two times doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get it that way again. A lot depends on delivery going smoothly, and on any processing issues the IRS or Treasury could encounter with your case. (See below for tips on how you could speed up delivery.)

The IRS told CNET in January that some people who received their first stimulus payment as a physical check or EIP card may have been paid by the other method the second time around. And, anecdotally, we learned of people who received direct deposit payments the first time finally getting an EIP card in the mail — and not an electronic bank transfer — weeks after the IRS tool said the payment was issued. 

The other payment groups we’ve loosely defined include Social Security beneficiaries who received payments a different way the first time if they’re part of the SSI or SSDI programs, and people with more complex scenarios that could lead to potential issues or holdups receiving their money. People in different child support situations are one example we’ve seen, as are people who are incarcerated and people with complex citizenship scenarios.

There are nearly 300 days to receive your money before the new cutoff

The IRS and Treasury have until Dec. 31 to complete sending out the third stimulus checks. That’s good news in the sense that it’s a far cry from the 17-day window the agencies had for the second payment directed by the December stimulus bill. On the other hand, it also means some people may find themselves waiting, for various reasons. 

There’s still so much we don’t know about how the IRS will juggle tax season and processing the new checks, and how the agency will deal with any fringe issues that arise. 

Stimulus checks will be based on whichever tax filing the IRS has processed

Taxes are due April 15, and although the IRS has been lobbied to extend the tax due date, that doesn’t appear likely this year. 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 by the time it’s ready to tabulate your check.

That means if you filed your 2020 taxes early, but the IRS mostly stops what it’s doing to process stimulus checks, your total might come out based on 2019’s adjusted gross income, not 2020’s, as intended. 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.)

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


Sarah Tew/CNET

If you get a partial check, you’ll have to wait for the rest. That may take awhile

There are several reasons the IRS could owe you stimulus money for the third round of checks. Maybe the agency processed your 2019 tax return instead of 2020 and there was a discrepancy. Or you had a baby in 2020 you still need to claim as a dependent. Or a clerical error accidentally left out a new dependent. Maybe 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, until you file your 2021 taxes in 2022 (even if you’re a nonfiler who isn’t typically required to file taxes).

You might be able to avoid a delay by doing these things now

While you don’t honestly have much control over the situation, there may be a few things you can do to help speed up receipt of a third payment. For example, we recommend signing up for direct deposit with the IRS when you submit your 2020 tax return, if you ordinarily file taxes

If you already have an account, make sure your details are correct. We also suggest you try to file your taxes quickly. While you can file an extension to submit your taxes later (you’d still have to pay taxes owed now) whether that will help or hurt you may get a little complicated.

If you’ve moved recently, tell the IRS and USPS. Here are our other suggestions for how people can make it more likely they’ll get their checks faster. Note that there could be some changes to qualifications that may not apply to a possible third stimulus check.

There are more stimulus check details for these groups

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

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

The editorial content on this page is based solely on objective, independent assessments by our writers and is not influenced by advertising or partnerships. It has not been provided or commissioned by any third party. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products or services offered by our partners.

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