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


Angela Lang/CNET

As soon as April 15, the first economic stimulus checks of up to $1,200 will start to go out for eligible taxpayers, beginning with people who have direct deposit set up with the IRS. You’ll be able to track your payment with the IRS, through a tool called that the agency will have on its website by April 17, the IRS told CNET (more below).

Some CNET readers have reported in this story’s comments that their banks will post their stimulus money on April 15. But just because the checks begin to arrive this week doesn’t mean that everyone will get their stimulus money on the first day. Those who’ve set up direct deposit with the IRS can expect to get their stimulus payment faster.

These one-time stimulus payments are part of a $2 trillion 2020 coronavirus relief package intended to help you pay your expenses and spur the flagging economy, as people lose their jobs and businesses shutter as a result of 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.

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 are almost here

The first checks for those who have direct deposit set up with the IRS will start to go out this week of April 13, arriving either in your bank account if you set up direct deposit with the IRS for past refunds during tax season, including prepaid cards, or in the mail at your registered address. 

If you would like to set up direct deposit to receive your payment directly to your bank account, the IRS will have an online tracker portal you can use to set up and track electronic payments by April 17. 

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

You don’t need to sign up to receive stimulus money

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.

How the stimulus tracking and payment works

The IRS will turn on an online tracking tool called Get My Payment by April 17. This online tracking portal will show the status of your payment, including the date it’s scheduled for deposit into your bank account, or mailed out to you.

The agency will also mail a letter to a taxpayer’s last known address within 15 days after sending the payment. The letter will contain information on when the payment was made and how to report to the IRS if you didn’t receive your check.

We’ll be checking the IRS’s dedicated coronavirus page for more details over the coming days, and will also update this story with new information once the IRS launches the 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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