Coronavirus checks will start to go out in a couple weeks.


Angela Lang/CNET

By the third week of April, the first economic stimulus checks of up to $1,200 are expected to reach eligible taxpayers. And those expecting a stimulus payment may already be wondering when their checks will show up, and if they can track their payout status with the IRS.

The one-time payments are part of a $2 trillion coronavirus relief package, which is intended to curb the economic effects caused by the coronavirus pandemic. It isn’t clear without calculation how much you’re entitled to receive. Your final allowance depends on a line in your tax form from either your 2018 or 2019 taxes. You can follow our guidelines or use a calculator to find out, but a little legwork is unavoidable.

Another wrinkle is when you’ll receive the check — the amount will appear automatically in your account or mailbox (more below). So if you think you might have a payment coming to you, can you track your status with the IRS? Here’s what we do and don’t know. 

(And if you haven’t submitted your taxes yet and need a refund soon, here are reasons you might want to file taxes by April 15, despite an automatic tax extension.)


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Stimulus checks will begin to arrive in mid-April

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the first stimulus payments will go out within two weeks — around mid-April — for those who have direct deposit set up with the IRS. 

The stimulus money will arrive either in your bank account if you set up direct deposit with the IRS for past refunds during tax season, or in the mail with your registered address. 

If you would like to set up direct deposit to receive your payment directly to your bank account, the IRS said it will have an online tool you can use to set up electronic payments by mid-April. 

While we know when to expect the first checks, we don’t know how long it will take for the IRS to process a check for every entitled taxpayer, of which there could be more than a hundred million. 

You don’t need to sign up to receive a check

To receive the stimulus payment, you may need to file a tax return for 2018 or 2019 if you are normally required to. You can still do that now. Here’s how.

Senior citizens, Social Security recipients, railroad retirees and other beneficiaries who typically are not required to file tax returns will not need to file one to receive a payment.

Can I check the status of my payment?

This isn’t yet clear. For federal tax refunds, the IRS has a Get Refund Status page that lets you check the status of your refund after you supply your social security number, filing status and refund amount. 

As of now, the IRS does not have a similar tool that lets you track the status of your stimulus payment, and at this point we don’t know if the agency will create an an online tracker. 

We’ll be checking the IRS’s dedicated coronavirus page for more details over the coming weeks, and will also update this story with new information if the IRS does create such a tool.

In the meantime, here’s what you need to know about the new federal tax filing extension. For more on the stimulus checks, here’s how best to use your stimulus check and how to avoid being scammed. Here’s everything you need to know about coronavirus and unemployment.


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