On Saturday, the Senate approved a $ 1.9 trillion stimulus package by a 50-49 vote that paved the way for final passage by the House early next week. Then President Joe Biden is supposed to include the package in law.
That means there will soon be a third round of direct cash payments – but there are some differences with the stimulus plan passed in December.
In particular, this payment round will be significantly larger for most who have previously received checks. Instead of the $ 600 sent in December, individuals will receive up to $ 1,400, depending on income. However, the income threshold to receive a check will also be stricter this time around after moderate Senate Democrats used their leverage to negotiate a lower maximum eligible income with the White House in Biden.
These changes mean that, according to the Institute for Taxes and Economic Policy, about 17 million fewer people will receive a third round of stimulus payments than would have been the case under the version of the bill passed by parliament. However, around 280 million people are still eligible.
Here's what you need to know:
Who is eligible for a direct payment of $ 1,400?
Unlike previous rounds of payments, eligibility for the new $ 1,400 checks can be determined based on your 2019 or 2020 tax returns, depending on whether you still filed for 2020 – and whether the IRS has processed your tax return. In general, the federal government will use the latest income information to determine eligibility.
Here's who is eligible for a payment:
Adults who earned $ 75,000 or less in their final tax year will receive the full $ 1,400, as will married couples who made $ 150,000 or less and heads of household who made $ 112,500 or less.
Adults who have earned more than $ 75,000 but less than $ 80,000; married couples who made more than $ 150,000 but less than $ 160,000; Heads of household who have earned more than $ 112,500 but less than $ 120,000 are eligible for a reduced payment.
Online calculators can give you an idea of how much to expect based on variables like your login status and the number of dependents.
Adults who made more than $ 80,000, married couples who made more than $ 160,000, and heads of household who made more than $ 120,000 are not eligible for checks.
Parents will also receive an additional check for $ 1,400 for each dependent claimed on their tax return. Unlike previous direct payments, all dependents – including students and some people with disabilities, not just children under the age of 17 – are eligible.
Undocumented immigrants are not eligible for direct payments. Households where one adult is legally resident and the other is not entitled to at least one check.
If you didn't file a tax return in 2019 and haven't done so in 2020, you may be able to use the IRS's free fillable form to get a stimulus review.
When do I get a direct payment?
It is still unclear exactly when the latest aid package for Covid-19 will be incorporated into the law, but it is expected to take place before March 14, when federal unemployment benefits currently expire. That means checks are expected to appear in the second half of March, depending on a few different factors.
As with the last two stimulus checks, direct deposit recipients are likely to receive their checks the fastest. As CNET notes, direct deposit payments began to be recorded in accounts about two weeks after the last stimulus package was passed. So if the discharge bill is signed according to the expected schedule, the first payments may appear on bank accounts by the week of March 22nd.
The physical checks are expected to take about a week longer than the direct deposits and should start on March 29 or so.
After all, EIP [Economic Impact Payment] cards could take the longest. The prepaid debit cards can expire from the week of April 5, depending on when the stimulus package is legally signed.
Do I have to do anything to get a check?
As Vox's Fabiola Cineas and Ella Nilsen explained after Congress passed its previous round of direct payments, most people don't have to do anything to get a stimulus check. If you filed taxes in 2019 or 2020, met the eligibility requirements, and included your direct deposit information, you should see the payment in your account in the coming weeks.
If your direct deposit information is not on file with the IRS, you can still use the IRS Get My Payment tool to provide this information before the final wave of payments begins.