Stimulus checks are coming out now. When will the IRS send your payment?

March 14, 2021 0 By boss


$100 bills

How and when will the IRS send your stimulus check, and how are the two connected? Could tax season throw a wrench in the plan? Here’s what you should know.

Stephen Shankland/CNET

The third stimulus payments have begun appearing in bank accounts across the US as provisional payments since Friday night, with many of the funds becoming fully accessible by March 17. This initial payment wave is aimed at  qualified recipients who already have direct deposit accounts on file with the IRS. But the agency won’t finish processing every payment immediate, and tens of millions more who will get a physical check or EIP card will have to wait for their $1,400 stimulus checks (calculate your total here)

It will take weeks for the IRS and Treasury to send the entire batch of stimulus checks, the White House and both agencies have said. The second payments went out to more than 147 million recipients, so it’s likely this third round will also need to be processed and delivered to over 100 million people. When will it be your turn, and how long will you have to wait between the date your stimulus money is processed and when you actually receive it?

Tracking your new stimulus check online is a good start for figuring out where you fall in line, but there additional factors to consider. For example, with tax returns due April 15, the IRS will have to process new payments using either 2019 or 2020 taxes (here’s why it matters). Your payment group also plays an outsize role in determining if you’ll get your stimulus money sooner, or be part of a later wave. Personal circumstances are also important — your check could wind up being garnished if you owe outstanding taxes or child support, for instance. Here’s what you need to know. This story was recently updated.

When will my third stimulus check actually arrive?

The Treasury and IRS said they started sending out the first payments, with more going this weekend and over the coming weeks, by direct deposit and through the mail as a physical check or EIP cardThe IRS said some people may see the direct deposit payments as pending or as provisional payments in their accounts before the official payment date of March 17. Direct deposit groups have first priority, followed by those who will be mailed a check. 

Remember, that’s just the start date. It could still take days or weeks for a payment to be processed and scheduled before it actually appears on your doorstep. Any additional complications could also delay your payment. If you moved recently, tell the IRS and USPS

Dozens of banks and financial institutions have started receiving stimulus check transfers through direct deposit, according to a list of more than 300 banks maintained by the r/stimuluscheck forum on Reddit, which is monitoring banks and financial services for payments to financial accounts. These include Bancorp Bank, Chime and Navy Federal Credit Union.

Stimulus check delivery dates (semi-final)

Stimulus bill passed Congress March 10
Stimulus bill signed into law March 11
First direct deposit sent March 12 (pending), March 17 (official)
First paper checks sent Week of March 22 possible
First EIP cards sent Week of March 29 possible
IRS deadline to finish sending checks Dec. 31, 2021 (mandated by the bill)
Last date to receive a check January 2022 (if checks sent late December)
Claims for missing stimulus money open 2021 tax season likely (in 2022)

When can I track my payment schedule online?

The IRS said it’ll turn on Get My Payment, its online tracking tool for stimulus checks, on Monday, March 15, to show you the status of a payment — and then some. This is a useful tool for people who receive a stimulus check in any form. The portal can also flag if there’s a problem with your payment that you may need to address.

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Stimulus check 3: How much money you’ll get


How can my payment group affect my delivery date?

The IRS identifies three payment groups based on how your money is sent:

  • Direct-deposit recipients: Typically got their stimulus money in the first wave. But both times there were issues involving deposits going to temporary accounts that were rejected by banks. In some cases, these people got paper checks or EIP cards instead, or had to wait for the issue to resolve.
  • Paper checks: This is the payment type the IRS sent out second. A physical check can take weeks to arrive by mail, but the check can be deposited or cashed right away once it arrives.
  • EIP cards: This payment type arrives as a prepaid debit card you must activate online to use. The IRS issued EIP cards last, delaying the payment’s arrival for this recipient group by weeks.

Remember, it takes time for the IRS to process the well over 100 million payments expected in this third round of checks. Even tiny errors could cause a delay in you receiving your full or partial payment. (Here’s more information for SSDI and SSI recipients, and other nonfilers.)

How could my priority group could change?

Just because you got your payment by direct deposit the first two times doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get it that way again. A lot depends on delivery going smoothly, and on any processing issues the IRS or Treasury could encounter with your case. (See below for tips on how you could speed up delivery.)

The IRS told CNET in January that some people who received their first stimulus payment as a physical check or EIP card may have been paid by the other method the second time around. And, anecdotally, we learned of people who received direct deposit payments the first time finally getting an EIP card in the mail — and not an electronic bank transfer — weeks after the IRS tool said the payment was issued. 


How you get your stimulus check could influence how soon your payment arrives.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The other payment groups we’ve loosely defined include Social Security beneficiaries who received payments a different way the first time if they’re part of the SSI or SSDI programs, and people with more complex scenarios that could lead to potential issues or holdups receiving their money. People in different child support situations are one example we’ve seen, as are people who are incarcerated and people with complex citizenship scenarios.

When is the cutoff to send new stimulus checks?

Although the IRS and Treasury are acting fact to send stimulus checks, the agencies have until Dec. 31 to complete sending out the third payments. That’s good news in the sense that they aren’t facing a compressed deadline to send out all the checks. On the other hand, it also means some people may find themselves waiting, for a variety of reasons. There’s still so much we don’t know about how the IRS will deal with any fringe issues that arise. 

Which tax return will the IRS use to calculate my payment?

Taxes are due April 15, and although the IRS has been lobbied to extend the tax due date, that doesn’t appear likely this year. So how will the IRS figure out how much it owes you? It will calculate your total (you can also do that here) based on the most recent tax filing it’s processed by the time it’s ready to tabulate your check.

If you filed your 2020 taxes early and you know your tax return was already processed, your total would likely be on 2020’s adjusted gross income, not 2020’s, as intended. That presents complications if the difference between the two years disqualifies you from getting a third stimulus check. (Learn more about some of the stimulus check exceptions and catches here.)


The first two stimulus checks were nominally sorted by different payment groups, and one had a clear advantage over the others.

Sarah Tew/CNET

If I get a partial check, when can I claim the rest?

There are several reasons the IRS could owe you stimulus money for the third round of checks. Maybe the agency processed your 2019 tax return instead of 2020 and there was a discrepancy. Or you had a baby in 2020 you still need to claim as a dependent. Or a clerical error accidentally left out a new dependent. Maybe your payment never arrived or was accidentally garnished

Whatever the reason, the IRS may provide a way to file for missing stimulus money before the Dec. 31 deadline. If not, you might have to wait a year to claim it, until you file your 2021 taxes in 2022 (even if you’re a nonfiler who isn’t typically required to file taxes).

What other stimulus check details do I need to know?

Stimulus checks aren’t necessarily a one-size-fits-all situation. Here are additional guides for:

Here’s everything you need to know about the third stimulus check, how to calculate your stimulus total and every other way the stimulus bill can bring you more money.

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