COVID-19 has spurred an economic crisis as well as a health-related one. To help address the former, in late March, a $2 trillion economic stimulus package was signed into law that includes, among other provisions, a one-time $1,200 payment for eligible Americans whose income falls below a certain threshold. The package also calls for a $500 payment for dependent children who are under age 17. As such, those who expect to collect a stimulus payment are eagerly anticipating its arrival. And starting this week, you may be able to track your stimulus payment so you'll know exactly when it'll hit your bank account.

The IRS is expected to have an online tracking tool you can use to check the status of your stimulus payment up and running by April 17. Since there's no single, uniform date for when those payments will arrive, having that information will help you plan financially.

Banded stacks of bills


Stimulus payments are already under way

The IRS recently announced that the first batch of stimulus payments has been sent out, so a large number of Americans could be seeing that money this week. Whether you'll get paid sooner rather than later, however, will depend on whether the IRS has your bank account details on file.

If you submitted a 2018 or 2019 tax return that included bank account information for direct deposit of your refund, you should receive your stimulus payment fairly quickly. Otherwise, you may need to wait until May at the very least if you're expecting a physical check. That said, you may be able to expedite your stimulus payment by using the new tool the IRS is in the process of launching to provide your bank account details. Additionally, if you haven't filed a tax return in years but are collecting Social Security, you don't have to worry about providing the IRS with your banking information if you're already getting those benefits via direct deposit.

What will that stimulus payment do for you?

Right now, millions of Americans are struggling financially after having lost their jobs or seen their working hours reduced due to a lack of child care or social distancing restrictions. Others, meanwhile, are frantically attempting to cut corners in the hopes of banking some extra money to pad their savings in case their income takes a turn for the worse.

Clearly, a $1,200 stimulus payment could serve as a lifeline for anyone in a dire financial state right now, or anyone who's worried about a near-term layoff. And if you're in the fortunate position of not needing that money for essentials or not having to worry about job security, you can always put that cash to good use by padding your retirement account or opening a brokerage account and investing it. Either way, knowing when to expect that money will help you make smart decisions regarding it, so don't hesitate to jump on the IRS's new tool once it becomes available.