7 ways you can prep for a $600 stimulus check today

December 20, 2020 0 By boss


Speed up your payment by making sure you have everything in order before a second stimulus bill is passed.

Sarah Tew/CNET

On Sunday, the House of Representatives will vote on a $900 billion stimulus package that’s tied to a government funding bill. The current COVID-19 relief proposal includes a second stimulus check for $600 per adult and could change the eligibility rules that might affect your dependents. It appears that many of the qualifications will remain the same in a second stimulus check. People who got the first direct payment are expected to receive the second check as well, Sen. John Barasso said Sunday. (Here’s why some may not qualify for a second stimulus check.)

However, if timing is everything, and you felt you waited longer for your first check to arrive, we have some suggestions that may help you get your next stimulus check faster this time. These tips are based on common issues that delayed the first stimulus payment for millions of people. If you handle some of these potential roadblocks now, your priority stimulus payment group may change, which could possibly bring your second stimulus check money quicker.

We explain more below. We’ve also created specific stimulus resources that could be helpful if you are over age 65 or retired, if you receive SSI or SSDI or are on the edge of qualifying for a second stimulus check. In case you’re wondering, here’s what we know about the possibility of a third stimulus check for 2021. This story has been updated with new information.

Read more: Third stimulus check for 2021? Why the new Congress holds the key

If you moved, change your address with the IRS

If you moved to a new address after filing your 2019 tax return (or any time during the coronavirus pandemic), you need to do two things to make sure your stimulus check and other important information about the payment can reach you: tell the USPS and IRS where you went

You need to do this even if your new location is temporary — you can always update your details if you move again. Even if your first check came through direct deposit (which means your second check likely would, too), you still want to make sure your address is updated so that you receive the IRS’ letter verifying when it sent your payment. If the letter arrives, but your funds do not, you’d know you have an issue to resolve.

To change your address with USPS, visit usps.com/move. To do so with the IRS, you have three options: fill out Form 8822, change your address by phone, or notify the IRS in writing at “the address where you filed your last return” by giving your full name, your old and new addresses, your Social Security number, individual taxpayer identification number or employer identification number, and your signature. (Find more detailed instructions on how to change your address to receive your stimulus check here.)

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Confirm your banking details are up to date

If your banking status changes, it could hold up receipt of your stimulus payment. Black Americans and other people of color are more likely to be “unbanked” than white Americans, according to an analysis by the think tank Urban Institute. People who identify as white and whose incomes were above the poverty line were more likely to have received their first stimulus check by the end of May than people who identify as Black, Hispanic or below the poverty line, the analysis found, because the first wave of payments went to people who had their bank account information on file with the IRS. 

Several large banks, including Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo, now offer more affordable checkless bank accounts as part of a government-backed effort to help people enter the banking system. 

A second stimulus check is likely to arrive the same way a first check did, based on your priority payment group with the IRS. If you’re a person without a bank account and your first payment came in the mail, either by check or EIP card, a second is likely to come in the same way.

Prepare to set up direct deposit with the IRS

If you bank with a financial institution, you should soon be able to use the IRS Get My Payment online service to set up direct deposit for your stimulus payment, as well as find out the status of your check and see if anything is holding the payment up. The initial May deadline to sign up for direct deposit for your first check has passed, but would likely reopen when and if a second check happens. Here’s everything you need to know about direct deposit and stimulus checks


Keeping your child support payments on time will make it more likely that you keep all of your stimulus check.

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Fill out this form if you weren’t required to file taxes in 2018 or 2019

People who earned below the threshold to be required to file federal income tax returns in 2018 or 2019 did not get a stimulus check unless they completed an online nonfilers form for the IRS (this group includes low-income families with children and a disproportionate number of Black people and people of color). 

If your first check is still missing, you have unfortunately missed the Nov. 21 nonfilers deadline, but can claim it on your 2020 taxes next year. (You can use our calculator tool to estimate how much you may have been eligible to receive.) You should also fill out the nonfilers form so that the IRS has your information on file if a second check is approved.

If you have overdue child support, pay it off ASAP

If you owe more than $150 in overdue child support (called arrears), your state may reserve the right to garnish some or all of your first stimulus check, based on how much you owe. This may also be the case with a second stimulus check. If possible, you should pay any overdue child support as quickly as you can to make sure you get your full stimulus check, as well as a possible payment for your child. 

If you’re owed child support, you may receive money garnished from your child’s other parent, though it may take a while to get to you after it is processed by the state. Find out more about how child support impacts stimulus checks here


Are all your affairs in order before a new check is decided? Now’s the time to act.

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Sort through your tax papers. Yes, really

If you missed the extended deadline to file your 2019 taxes (which was on Oct. 15), you can still file late. There’s no penalty for doing so if you’re owed a refund, but if you owe the IRS money, you’ll have penalties and interest for any remaining unpaid tax due starting on July 16, 2020, along with a $300 failure-to-file penalty. 

However, if you owe federal taxes or have other federal debts, the IRS will not reduce your stimulus payment to cover those — the only exception being if you owe child support. For those who don’t file taxes but missed the Nov. 21 nonfilers tool deadline, you can claim your payment on your 2020 tax return next year. (Important caveat: If you did file a 2019 tax refund, even if you weren’t required to do so, don’t use the nonfilers tool — it’ll just slow down the processing of your return and any refund.)

Make sure you’re eligible for a stimulus check

Not everyone will qualify for a second stimulus check. Most of the general requirements for receiving a first stimulus check under the March CARES Act would likely hold true for a second, including certain income limits.

Here’s who qualified for the first round, based on your total income on your 2018 or 2019 taxes:

  • If you’re a single filer and earn less than $99,000
  • If you file as the head of a household and earn under $146,500
  • If you file jointly with your spouse and earn less than $198,000

However, there are a lot of exceptions and rules depending on your situation (you can find a more detailed list of stimulus check qualifications here). Find out what your stimulus check could look like if you receive SSI or SSDI, if you have dependents, if you’re a young adult or if you’re over age 65 or retired.

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