Second stimulus check: When will the IRS start sending new payments?

December 21, 2020 0 By boss


How quickly could the IRS send your money? We have some potential dates.

Sarah Tew/CNET

With less than two weeks left in 2020, the House of Representatives is poised to vote Sunday on a $900 billion stimulus package that reportedly will include a second stimulus check for $600, a $300 federal unemployment payment and funding for several other federal benefits set to expire this month. The Senate is expected to vote shortly after the House does, with the COVID-19 relief bill then heading to President Donald Trump to sign.

Once Trump signs the new stimulus bill into law, how soon could the IRS and Treasury Department begin distributing the second stimulus check? Based on the first round of checks and remarks by administration officials, we have a good idea when that might take place. 

The second stimulus check will likely be scheduled in waves according to different payment groups, similar to the first payments. We’ve mapped out some potential dates below, depending on where you fit in.

Read on for more information about a second stimulus payment. Here are steps to possibly get your second stimulus check faster. And if you’re curious, here’s how a third stimulus check could be possible in the new year. We recently updated this story with the latest information.

Read moreWant a third $1,200 stimulus check? Everything could change in January

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Next stimulus checks: What to expect


When will Congress say yes to a second stimulus check?

This weekend, Congressional leaders continue to work out the details of a $900 billion rescue package that may include $600 checks for adults and dependents. The House of Representatives is set to vote on Sunday, with the Senate to follow. A bill with a new $600 stimulus check could become law early this week.

After President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated on Jan. 20, the new administration may try again for a larger bill that could potentially include a third stimulus payment, especially if the results of two Georgia senatorial runoffs on Jan. 5 go for the Democrats. That would mean that particular check would likely go out in February at the earliest. See the chart below for possible dates.


Hanging on to hope of a second stimulus check? You’re not alone.

Sarah Tew/CNET

How long before the IRS could start to send the new checks?

Once a new stimulus bill is approved, the IRS and Treasury could potentially send the first batch of payments faster than last time. In August, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said it would take about a week from the time that another stimulus check is approved to the time the IRS could process the first batch. 

“I can get out 50 million payments really quickly. A lot of it into people’s direct accounts,” Mnuchin said then. 

Here’s one stimulus check truth of many: Not everyone will get a payment at the same time. With the first check, the IRS divided stimulus payments into different priority groups depending on the form in which you received the money, and other factors. 

In the chart below, these speculative dates show when you might see a payment if Congress reaches an agreement this week. We also sketch out three other timelines if another  bill becomes law after Biden becomes president Jan. 20.

Possible dates a second stimulus check could go out

Scenario 1 Scenario 2 Scenario 3 Scenario 4
House passes final bill Dec 20 Feb 1 March 1 April 5
Senate passes final bill Dec 21 Feb 2 March 2 April 6
President signs Dec 22 Feb 3 March 3 April 7
First direct deposits issued Week of Jan 4 Week of Feb 8 Week of March 8 Week of April 12
First paper checks sent Week of Jan 11 Week of Feb 16 (Feb 15 is Presidents Day) Week of March 15 Week of April 19
First EIP cards sent Week of Feb 8 Week of March 15 Week of April 12 Week of May 10

Direct deposit, EIP card, paper check and you

The IRS sent out the first stimulus payments on a staggered timeline to different groups of people depending on how they were being paid: by direct deposit, paper check or EIP card. We dive more into the five stimulus check payment priority groups here.

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