Yes, that direct deposit in your bank account could really be your second stimulus payment.
On Tuesday, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin tweeted that payments may begin to arrive in Americans' accounts as early as Tuesday evening (and some people have already tweeted that they've gotten their payments).
This follows a lot of back and forth over the past week about the checks. President Donald Trump initially suggested he may not sign the latest coronavirus relief package until the checks were increased from $600 to $2,000 (he did end up signing), then Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. blocked the Senate's vote on a standalone bill to increase the amount.
But the checks are finally coming, and for the millions of people still out of work, they arrive not a moment too soon.
When will I get my stimulus check?
As Mnuchin said, direct payments may begin to hit bank accounts as early as Tuesday evening and continue into next week. Some people may see the direct deposit payments as pending or as provisional payments before Jan. 4, 2021, the official payment date, the IRS said in a statement.
If the IRS doesn't have your direct deposit information, it will likely take longer for you to get your hands on the money. Paper checks will be mailed beginning Wednesday, Mnuchin said.
You can see the status of your stimulus check using the Get My Payment tool, which will show when and how (direct deposit or mail) it sent your first and second payments.
How will I get my stimulus check?
If the IRS has your current bank information and you set up direct deposit to receive your 2019 tax return, you will receive the stimulus payment via direct deposit. (Although the IRS says to check your mail carefully if you don't receive the deposit by early January, just in case.)
If you're eligible for a second stimulus check but do not have direct deposit set up, you will likely receive a check or a debit card in the mail. It can be different than it was last time — if you received a paper check then, you might receive a debit card now, or vice versa.
Keep in mind some eligible Americans still haven't received the first stimulus checks. While the IRS has until Dec. 31, 2020 to mail those, you can claim both the first and second payment when you file your taxes next year if you still don't receive them. And if you didn't file a 2019 tax return and didn't register with the non-filers tool earlier this year, you can also claim a Recovery Rebate Credit when you file your 2020 tax return.
Can I switch how I get my stimulus check?
If you received direct deposit the first time, the IRS will use your data that's already in the system to get you the second stimulus check. If the bank account listed is closed or inactive, you'll receive the payment in the mail. And to prevent fraud, the IRS won't let you change the direct deposit information for a stimulus payment already on file.
During the first round of stimulus checks, you could use the Get My Payment application to provide the IRS with your bank information up until May 13 to ensure you'd get the money via direct deposit. (Although, if the payment was already in process when you submitted your bank information, you may have had to receive the payment in the mail.) If you received a paper check last time, the IRS hasn't indicated whether you can add your bank account information this time, or if there is a deadline to do so, but they only have until Jan. 15 to issue the payments, according to the legislation.
How much will my stimulus check be?
While the first round of stimulus checks were $1,200, the second will be only half that much. In the nine months since the CARES Act was signed, there has been a lot of debate over the appropriate amount for additional direct payments, with Democrats (and more recently, the president) pushing for $2,000. But it looks like that $600 won't budge for now.
Eligibility for a stimulus check this time looks pretty similar to the first round, with the exception that children are now eligible for the same benefit amount as adults, and couples in which one spouse has a valid Social Security number but the other doesn’t are eligible. Payments will be up to $600 for individuals or $1,200 for married couples (and up to $600 for each child). As far as income limits, you should receive the full amount if you have adjusted gross income for 2019 of up to $75,000 for individuals and $150,000 for married couples. For people with higher income limits the payment will be reduced, phasing out completely at $87,000 for individuals and $174,000 for couples filing jointly.
This story has been updated to reflect that the Get My Payment tool is no longer offline.