WASHINGTON – Millions of Americans should start to see stimulus checks of up to $1,400 land in their bank accounts in just a few weeks.
The one-time payments are part of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-relief package that’s expected to get final approval in the House on Tuesday.
The Internal Revenue Service hasn’t yet indicated how soon it will start to distribute the money. But analysts say the checks should start appearing in bank accounts via direct deposit in just a couple of weeks, based on the distribution timeline from the last round of stimulus payment late last year.
“My understanding is that it’s going to be a very similar timeline to what we saw with the second round of payments in December,” said Garrett Watson, senior policy analyst at the Tax Foundation, a Washington-based think tank.
President Joe Biden said last week that many Americans can expect to see their checks by the end of the month. White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Monday the administration is still working through the “mechanics” of distributing the checks.
Surgery for a child, car loan, electric bills: We asked Americans how they’d spend $1,400 stimulus checks. This is what they said.
Stimulus checks of up to $1,400 will start to land in millions of Americans' bank accounts after Congress gives final approval to President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-relief package. (Photo: Getty Images)
The IRS will be tasked with sending out the stimulus checks in the middle of tax season, which could possibly slow down the distribution. But the agency’s experience with sending out two prior rounds of stimulus checks last year should make the process go smoothly, Watson said.
“They seem pretty well prepared as they can be, given everything on their plate,” he said.
Not everyone who got a stimulus check last time will be eligible this round. Lawmakers changed the eligibility rules after complaints from Republicans and some moderate Democrats, who argued the money should go to those who need it most.
The legislation calls for checks of up to $1,400 to go to individuals with an adjusted gross income of $80,000 or less ($160,000 for joint filers), plus an additional $1,400 for each dependent child. The payments start to phase out for individuals earning $75,000 and will cut off completely for anyone who makes over $80,000. For couples filing jointly, the phase-out starts for those making $150,000 and cuts off at $160,000.
The new eligibility rules mean the checks will phase out more quickly than during the two previous rounds, when the cut-off was $99,000 for individuals and $198,000 for joint filers with no children.
The faster phase-out will mean that as many as 6.5 million Americans who got checks in the first two rounds will be left out this time, Watson said. Other analysts put the number of people who will be excluded even higher – as many as 7 million or 8 million.
The IRS will likely use tax returns already on file to calculate how much money you’ll get. If you’ve already filed a return for 2020, your stimulus check will likely be based on your income from last year. If not, your 2019 returns will probably be used to determine how much you’ll get.
Those who get the checks via direct deposit – which will be most Americans – will get the money quickest.
Paper checks will be sent to Americans who don’t already have direct deposit information on file with the IRS, but those take longer to distribute.
More than 160 million payments totaling $270 billion were distributed during the first round last spring, the IRS said. More than 147 million payments totaling more than $142 billion were deliver during the second allotment that started in December. More than 100 million of second-round payments were distributed via direct deposit.
Michael Collins covers the White House. Follow him on Twitter @mcollinsNEWS.
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