Stimulus Check Update: Paper Checks Are Now in the Mail

by Christy Bieber | Updated July 25, 2021 - First published on March 18, 2021

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A woman holding her mail while standing in her kitchen.

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Is your check in the mail?

President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act just a week ago on March 11, 2021. This act authorized stimulus checks valued at $1,400 per eligible adult and qualifying dependent. In the week since the president signed the bill into law, the IRS has already distributed 90 million stimulus payments.

This timeline was significantly faster than the first stimulus check authorized under the CARES Act. When the first payment was authorized, it took around three weeks for 89.5 million direct payments to be delivered to struggling Americans.

The IRS was able to move much more quickly this time because it already has the infrastructure set up to deliver the money. In particular, the agency already has financial information for most individuals either from recent tax returns, from the Social Security Administration or Veterans Administration, or because people submitted an online form for non-filers.

Like with the first two stimulus checks, the IRS prioritized sending payments to individuals with their direct deposit information on file. They received their payments first, with the IRS beginning to make deposits into bank accounts the weekend of March 13.

However, the agency has also begun sending paper checks in the mail, which means that if you aren't getting a direct deposit, you may still get your money very soon.

The IRS has sent more than 150,000 paper stimulus checks

On Wednesday, the U.S. Treasury announced that it had mailed out a total of 150,000 paper checks. Collectively, these checks will provide an estimated $442 million in stimulus relief.

While this is just a small portion of the $242 billion in total payments that the agency has sent out, it's still good news that paper checks have begun to be distributed. This schedule is faster than many anticipated, as the IRS was widely expected to begin sending paper checks in the mail at the end of March rather than in the middle of the month.

The 150,000 paper checks have a pay date of March 19, and could arrive in people's mailboxes as early as this Friday. If you are expecting to receive your money via check, you can use the Get My Payment tool created by the IRS to determine if your payment is among those that have been mailed. You can also use this tool if you are expecting a payment via direct deposit.

To use the tool, you'll need to input your Social Security or tax ID, along with your birthdate and address including your zip code. If your payment has been processed already and has been mailed or will be soon, the IRS website will display its payment status. If the Get My Payment tool shows that it was sent via the postal service, you'll want to watch the mail carefully for it.

If the tool shows Payment Not Available instead of displaying your payment status, it's possible you aren't eligible for the third stimulus check. The criteria to qualify was stricter this time around, with single tax filers not eligible for a check once their income hit $80,000 and married joint filers barred from receiving a payment with an income of $160,000 or higher.

However, it's also possible the IRS simply hasn't processed your payment yet and you should give it some time. The tool updates daily, so check back if you expect to receive a check and your payment status isn't displayed yet.

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