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88 Million People Have Received Their Stimulus Checks. When Will Yours Arrive?

By Matthew Frankel, CFP® - Apr 26, 2020 at 5:51AM

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The IRS has paid out nearly $158 billion, with much more to go.

The Internal Revenue Service just gave an update on the Economic Impact Payments, more commonly referred to as "stimulus checks." Through April 17, the Treasury and IRS have issued 88.1 million payments totaling $158 billion, which means that roughly 59% of the 150 million eligible households have received their money.

That's an impressive statistic considering the payments started to arrive in bank accounts just a few days before. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin originally said that taxpayers who have their direct deposit information on file could expect to receive payments by April 16, and while experts had doubts the federal government could achieve such an aggressive goal, it appears the program is getting money into Americans' hands as quickly as promised, if not faster.

However, this still leaves about 62 million households that have not received their Economic Impact Payment yet. If you're still waiting for your money, here's what you need to know.

Man holding money in hand.

Image source: Getty Images.

Are you eligible?

If you have not received a stimulus payment yet, the first thing you should do is to make sure you're eligible. For starters, the payments are limited by your adjusted gross income (AGI) on your 2019 tax return. If you haven't filed your 2019 return yet, the IRS will look at your 2018 return:

Filing Status

Full Stimulus Payment

Partial Stimulus Payment

No Stimulus Payment

Single or married filing separately



$99,001 or higher

Head of household



$136,501 or higher

Married filing jointly



$198,001 or higher

Data source: IRS. You can find your AGI on your tax return's Form 1040.

Eligible individuals can receive $1,200 per adult and $500 per qualifying child. People who fall in the "partial stimulus payment" column will receive a prorated amount based on where their AGI falls in the range.

In addition to the income limitations, if you can be claimed as a dependent on someone else's return, you are not eligible, regardless of your income. You're also not eligible if you don't have a valid Social Security number, are a nonresident alien, or if you filed Form 1040-NR, 1040NR-EZ, 1040-PR, or 1040-SS in 2019.

Direct deposit is the fastest way to get your payment

The first wave of payments went out to Americans who provided their direct deposit information on their 2018 or 2019 tax return. And the IRS advises that people who receive their Social Security payments or Veterans Benefits deposited to their bank account will also receive a payment automatically, even if they aren't typically required to file a tax return.

If the IRS doesn't already have your bank information, you can still get your money direct deposited. And there are two ways to do this -- the right one to use depends on your situation.

  • If you typically are not required to file tax returns, you can use the IRS's Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info portal to register your bank information with the IRS.
  • If you filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return (or both) but your returns didn't include your bank information for whatever reason, use the Get My Payment

It's also worth noting that the IRS updates the Get My Payment tool's database daily, and it appears that major updates are taking place this week. Many people who are eligible for a payment have been receiving "Payment Status Not Available" messages since the tool was launched, but it's important to keep checking back daily. To be fair, getting every U.S. taxpayer into the database is a massive undertaking, and the IRS is making excellent time.

When will paper checks arrive?

The short answer is that paper checks are already starting to be mailed, but it could take a while to get yours. Once the IRS has scheduled your payment, you're unable to enter your direct deposit information, so you'll be stuck waiting on your check to arrive. You can use the Get My Payment tool (linked earlier) to check the status of your payment and see if a check has been scheduled.

Here's the general idea. The IRS started mailing paper checks the week ending April 24 but is starting with the lowest-income recipients. Specifically, the first week of paper checks went to individuals with AGI of $10,000 or less. Each week, recipients with up to $10,000 in additional AGI will have their checks mailed -- for example, households with AGI ranging from $10,001 to $20,000 would have their checks mailed the week ending May 1, and so on. If you're in one of the higher income brackets, it could take until August or September before the IRS gets around to mailing yours. 

Although it's been a few weeks since the distribution plan was reported by The Washington Post, the original timetable has been fairly accurate thus far, as mentioned earlier. So, it's reasonable to expect the IRS to stick to this schedule unless something changes.

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