$242 Billion in Stimulus Cash Has Already Gone Out

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The IRS has been quick to distribute stimulus funds, but some Americans will have to wait. Read on to see how long it might take.

Last week, President Joe Biden signed a massive $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill into law. And while many Americans may have to sit tight and wait before reaping the full benefits of the bill, one form of relief that's already available is stimulus cash.

So far, around 90 million stimulus payments have already been sent out to the public -- that's a total of $242 billion in funds. That amount represents a mix of direct deposits that have hit recipients' bank accounts, as well as about 150,000 checks that went out in the mail.

But some stimulus recipients may have to wait on their money. Here's what you need to know:

Checks will take longer to mail out

The overwhelming majority of the stimulus funds already disbursed came in the form of direct deposits. Those payments were initiated over the past weekend, and they cleared many bank accounts by March 17.

But those who aren't getting a stimulus via direct deposit and aren't part of the first batch of check payments will need to wait longer to get their money. The IRS is limited in the number of checks it can issue at once. So those physical payments will be going out in batches over the coming weeks. This means many recipients won't see their stimulus funds until April or possibly beyond, depending on how many separate batches of checks need to be sent out.

Another thing stimulus recipients should know is that like the previous rounds, some payments may come in the form of a pre-loaded debit card. These cards will be accepted at most merchants, from supermarkets to gas stations, and cardholders shouldn't be charged fees to use them.

How to check the status of your stimulus payment

If you didn't receive a stimulus payment yet, you may be eager to know when your money will arrive. Thankfully, the IRS has a Get My Payment tool you can use to look up that information.

Keep in mind that it's possible for you to be eligible for a stimulus check but for the tool to fail to show a payment date. This will occur if your payment hasn't yet been processed.

Also, this tool will only work for the current round of stimulus checks. Any payment information regarding a previous stimulus round will no longer be accessible.

If you were entitled to a first or second-round stimulus but never saw your money, it's not too late to get it. All you need to do is file your taxes and claim that payment via the Recovery Rebate Credit on your 2020 tax return.

Originally, those returns had a deadline of April 15, 2021, which is the normal tax-filing deadline, but the IRS just announced it will be extending the deadline by another month, to May 17. The sooner you file your taxes, however, the sooner you'll collect your missing stimulus. So you may not want to wait.

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