For American families who have already spent their first COVID-19 stimulus check, the wait is on for the next round of direct payments.
While there is still no guarantee lawmakers will take action to provide more coronavirus relief money, if they do pass another bill, here is the likely schedule for getting your next round of COVID-19-related relief money.
When the next coronavirus stimulus check could arrive
If you're getting a second coronavirus stimulus check, this is what the calendar is almost assuredly going to look like:
- Congress passes and signs the legislation sometime between July 20 and Aug. 7, and the president would likely sign it shortly thereafter.
- The IRS will begin gearing up to send checks and will start sending them out within around two weeks or less of legislation passing.
- It will likely take the IRS around seven weeks or less to send out the majority of payments.
That means if you're getting more COVID-19 relief funds, you should know that within the next month. And you should most likely have your payment by the end of August or early September (if it's going to come).
Why this schedule for getting more coronavirus stimulus money is most likely
Since lawmakers haven't fully passed another coronavirus stimulus bill, you're probably wondering where these dates come from. Here's why this is the most likely schedule: Congress has just 15 working days scheduled this summer to pass the second stimulus bill.
Both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate are currently on a two-week recess for the Fourth of July and aren't scheduled to return to Washington, D.C., until the week of July 20. The Senate will go on its next recess beginning on Aug. 7, this time for a summer break that will run until Sept. 8.
Unless there's a big spike in coronavirus cases or the August job numbers are really terrible, lawmakers almost assuredly won't pass more stimulus money in September if they don't complete some actions in late July or early August. After all, by then it will be close to six months since the coronavirus crisis began and any sense of urgency will have long passed. And with just weeks until the presidential election in November, lawmakers will almost certainly have other priorities in September and October (including their own re-election campaigns in many cases).
That means if more coronavirus relief legislation is going to pass, it's likely to happen before Aug. 8.
The IRS could expedite the distribution process this time around
After the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law by President Donald Trump on March 27, it took the IRS some time to start processing payments. The first direct deposits were made the week of April 13 -- two weeks and three days after the COVID-19 payments were authorized.
Things could conceivably go faster this time, as the agency already has mechanisms in place for delivering checks, including a system for people to provide their updated information. Most people have also already filed their 2019 tax returns (which are due by July 15) or submitted their information if they're non-filers, so the IRS already has all the info it needs to start sending out payments ASAP. Still, it will take at least a little time for the bureaucracy to get moving on sending out coronavirus relief money.
And last time, the IRS had sent the bulk of direct deposits by June 3, so around seven weeks after they got started distributing the COVID-19 stimulus checks. Since they'll probably work on the same schedule, or even an accelerated one, most people will have their money by mid-September at the latest.
What could change this schedule?
While the history of the CARES Act shows this schedule is the most likely one if you're getting more COVID-19 money, there are a number of reasons this schedule could change.
It might take longer for the IRS to send stimulus checks if the next coronavirus relief bill changes the income limits or eligibility rules for the second COVID-19 payment, for example. Significant changes would mean the agency may need to develop a new process for determining who is eligible. Or Congress might not act by August but the economy could get much worse, prompting them to pass another bill in September in hopes of bringing the country out of a deepening recession.
And, of course, there's no guarantee that lawmakers will even authorize another stimulus check. So while you should keep watch on Washington and hope for another direct payment sometime before September, you should also take steps to make sure you'll be OK financially even if that doesn't happen. For most people, this means keeping a careful eye on your budget, avoiding unnecessary spending, investing wisely, bulking up your emergency savings, and making sure you're taking full advantage of any other coronavirus relief benefits you're eligible to receive.