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Millions of Americans could start receiving the much-awaited stimulus check by direct deposit on Thursday, as the first wave of aid for citizens impacted by the coronavirus pandemic begins to go out.
The Internal Revenue Service plans to generate electronic checks on April 9 for the first group of recipients, about 50 million Americans, according to an internal payment schedule obtained by The Washington Post. Depending on how quickly banks process the payments, the money could be deposited between April 9 and April 14 at the latest.
At the heart of the largest relief plan in recent memory is $1,200 checks for individuals who earn less than $75,000 annually, $2,400 for couples who earn less than $150,000 and $500 for every child. The payments are tapered for higher-earners and phase out completely for individuals who earn more than $99,000, or couples who earn more than $198,000.
The cash is intended to alleviate financial burdens for Americans caused by the coronavirus pandemic, which has paralyzed the U.S. economy. In three weeks alone, more than 16 million Americans filed for unemployment, the Labor Department said. The record-shattering number is a stunning sign of the depth of the economic calamity inflicted by the virus outbreak.
But the speed at which the money is distributed depends on people’s tax-filing method -- and whether the government has their banking information.
Electronic payments can be disbursed quicker than cash checks, which must be printed and mailed separately.
An estimated 80 percent of tax filers will be able to easily receive the money because they already have shared account information with the IRS, the Post reported.
"If we have your information you’ll get it within two weeks," Mnuchin said last week. "Social Security, you’ll get it very quickly after that. If we don’t have your information you’ll have a simple web portal, we’ll upload it. If we don’t have that, we’ll send you checks in the mail."
But there are millions who have never shared that information with the government -- or who lack bank accounts entirely. That category largely consists of low-income families and Social Security recipients who don’t make much money in the first place.
If Americans did not file a 2019 or 2018 tax return, which will be used by the agency to calculate eligibility, the IRS has instructed them to file a "simple tax return," with basic filing information like filing status, the number of dependents and bank information.
Under the IRS plan, paper checks would be sent to the lowest-income Americans first, prioritizing payments for individual taxpayers with incomes of $10,000 or less on April 24, according to the Post.
Checks for individuals who earn less than $20,000 or less would be in the mail May 1, followed by those with incomes of $30,000 on May 8 and $40,000 on May 15, continuing in increments of $10,000, per week. The IRS plans to send 5 million checks per week.