Stimulus Check: How to Get It, How Much You’ll Get and When

UTC by Osaemezu Ogwu · 12 min read
Stimulus Check: How to Get It, How Much You’ll Get and When
Photo: Depositphotos

Here’s all you need to know about the stimulus check from the U.S. government to its citizens. This guide centers on how you’ll get paid, how much you can expect, and how soon you’ll get paid.

The stimulus check is an Economic Impact Payment issued by the U.S. government to Americans. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) authorized the issuing of these payments. And so far, millions of people in the U.S. have received the relief funds.

Unlike other regular payments, taxpayers do not have to pay taxes on the stimulus payment they receive. The funds can be spent as they deem fit. Also, the payment does not serve as an advance on the regular tax refund and as such, your tax refund for 2019 has not reduced.

What’s more, how much you stand to get from a stimulus check varies when compared to what others may receive. The reason is, a lot of criteria are used to determine what an individual gets. The major factor, in this case, is the adoption of your adjusted gross income. This income is determined based on your 2019 tax filing, and if you haven’t filed yet, your 2018 tax filing will be used.

Why is the Stimulus Check Issued?

The stimulus check is targeted at reducing the financial burden of the coronavirus outbreak on U.S. citizens and indirectly stimulate the economy. This is because as you and other individuals spend the money, it increases the purchasing activity in the country. This heightened activity, in turn, spikes the revenues of manufacturers and other members of the supply chain. Consequently, the economy is boosted.

The same strategy was adopted after the financial crises of 2008, where checks were issued to taxpayers. At the time, the U.S. government under President Obama’s administration issued checks to taxpayers in a bid to prevent the rate of unemployment from exceeding 8%.

In this case, checks were distributed to people who had a qualifying income of at least $3,000 or when combined with earned income, and other benefits. Individuals were issued around $300 – $600, whereas joint filers got around $600 – $1,200. Also, parents with eligible children got an extra $300 per child.

How Much Your Stimulus Check Will Be

Several criteria are used to ascertain the actual value an individual gets paid. Based on these criteria, you can ascertain how much you’ll receive.

Accordingly, you’ll receive $1,200 as an individual and this payment will be transferred once. In contrast, you’ll receive $2,400 if you’re married. If you have kids, then you’ll get another $500 per child. It can be said that joint taxpayers receive twice the value issued to people whose taxes are filed individually. This schedule is defined under the CARES Act.

Generally, what is used to ascertain the amount you get depends on your annual income and the filing evident on your 2019 return. Furthermore, the IRS will fall back on the 2018 tax return if a report was not made for 2019

Here’s an outline of what to look forward to:

Single Filers

If your tax returns are singly filed and you have an AGI not greater than $75k, you’ll be paid $1,200. You also gain $500 if your child is under 17 and has been claimed on your tax fillings. Alternatively, if you have a child that you claim as dependent but who is over 17 years, you will not benefit from added $500 and neither will they be eligible for their own check.

You’ll be paid a value that is reduced by $5 and for each $100 in your AGI, that is, if you have an AGI is greater than $75k.

If you have an AGI that is over $99k and you do not have any kids or claim any whose age is below 17 years, then you are ineligible to receive any payment.

Head of a Household

You’ll be paid $1,200 if you have an AGI not greater than $112k. You also get $500 if you have a child under 17 and which has been claimed on your tax fillings.

You’ll be paid a value that is reduced by $5 and for each $100 in your AGI if you have an AGI is between $112k and $136k.

If you have an AGI that is over $136k and you do not have any kids or claim any whose age is below 17, then you are ineligible to receive any stimulus payment.

Jointly Filing by Married Couples

You’ll be paid $2,400 if you have an AGI not greater than $150k. You also get $500 if you have a child whose age is below 17 and which has been claimed in your tax fillings. As a consequence, if there are four members in your family, you’ll get around $3,400.

You’ll be paid a value that is reduced by 5 dollars and for each $100 in your AGI if the latter is above $150k.

If you have an AGI that is over $198k and you do not have any kids or claim any whose age is below 17, then you are ineligible to receive any payment.

Joint Filers

  • AGI $150,000, payment $2,400
  • AGI $160,000, payment $1,900
  • AGI $170,000, payment $1,400
  • AGI $180,000, payment $900
  • AGI $190,000, payment $400
  • AGI $198,000+, payment $0

Although this is the standard criteria used to schedule the amount a person receives. There are also cases where you may be exempted. For instance, if someone else claims that you depend on their taxes or your filling is for trusts or estates.

What Should be Done to Receive the Check?

While there is really nothing to be done to receive the economic impact payment, the same is not the case if you have not been filing taxes. According to the IRS, if you had filed tax returns either in 2018 or 2019, there’s nothing more to do. The same applies for most seniors and retirees.

It also follows that if you did not file your taxes for either of these two years due to your income level, you need to supply your personal information to the IRS to ensure you get paid. Accordingly, there’s a new website by the IRS which you can use to your details. This website has been specifically designed for Americans who didn’t report their taxes in 2018 or 2019.

On the other hand, if there is the requirement that you need to still file tax returns, then you can find low-cost options that can be used for filing. There are also experts that can help to file the right tax return. Having accurate tax returns can save you from a lot in terms of additional costs.

In the same vein, IRS-certified volunteers offer the service of preparing taxes for certain individuals for free. If you fall under the criteria, then you don’t need to hire an expert to prepare your tax. The criteria include:

  • Having an income that is not over $56,000
  • Being at least 60 years old or older
  • You have a disability
  • You’re unable to speak English fluently

If your annual income is over $56,000 but less than $69,000, there’s another way to go. You may resort to free online tools that can help you file your taxes.

Update Your Payment Information

The IRS has also informed Americans who do not have updated their bank information or mailing address to take steps to update either information. But how can you tell you need to update either of these? Read on to find out,

If you haven’t received payment yet, and you’re also certain that you didn’t input your direct deposit information while filing your 2018 or 2019 tax return, then you need to provide this information. There is the “Get My Payment” function on the IRS website that will help you to input this information.

On the other hand, if you had provided this information and still need to change it, then you can. The only way that can be made possible is to file your 2019 tax returns electronically. Once that is done, the IRS will be informed of the new deposit information.

Steven Mnuchin announced that there is no need for Social Security beneficiaries to do anything to receive the stimulus check. Hence, they will still be paid whether they file these taxes or not.

How Will I Receive My Stimulus Check?

There are various methods that will be used to send your stimulus check. It may be sent as a paper check or a direct bank deposit. The method may vary depending on certain conditions. For starters, if you are a Social Security beneficiary who does not report taxes, then the method used in sending your benefits will be employed. Nonetheless, the methods of payments that will be used to send your stimulus check include.

Paper Checks

Your payment may be forwarded as a paper check to you via mail. Once it has has been sent, it takes up to 15 days before the IRS sends you a follow-up letter. The letter will inform you of what to do if in any case, you did not receive the payment. Likewise, you’ll be informed on how to address issues pertaining to the check or what you receive.

Payment Via Bank Deposits

Asides from checks, there is the option to receive payments via bank deposits. It, therefore, follows that you can expect to be funded directly in your account. Steven Mnuchin, the U.S Treasury Secretary also confirmed that direct deposits will be the major method used in funding people.

The advantage of opting for direct bank deposits is that it is faster. As such, you stand to get the money even before a person that was mailed a check days ago. There’s a ‘Get My Payment’ option which you can fall back on to check the status of the payment.

What’s more, you can ascertain the method in which you get paid since there is an online application that will give room for you to enter your bank details. The payment will then be sent to the details you provide. However, you are eligible to fill this application if in 2018 or 2019 you had filed a tax return without inputting your bank details.

Prepaid Card Payments

Over and above that, the IRS has also made provision for people to receive the stimulus package on their prepaid card. This method of receiving the funds is even faster compared to direct bank deposits and mails.

Therefore, if you’ll like to get paid using your prepaid card, then contact your card provider to ascertain if your card can receive direct deposits. If the card provider confirms that you can, then proceed to use the “Get My Payment” option on the IRS website. This option will enable you to input your card’s account number and its routing number.

When Will I Receive My Stimulus Check?

Previous reports revealed that the economic impact payments will be rolled out from April 2020. Specifically, the payment will be made by the IRS to people’s bank account or issued as a check. Nonetheless, it could take longer if the payment is issued as a check, but irrespective of the method employed, most recipients do not have to do anything to be beneficiaries.

So far, the first direct cash payments have begun and they started on April 11, 2020. The latter is known as the electronic stimulus check payments. In contrast, checks will be mailed to recipients from April 24, 2020. The checks will also have the name “President Donald J. Trump” featured on its memo line.

After the paper checks have been sent from April 24, they will be sent continuously in weeks following. It is estimated that an extra five million checks will be distributed. And using this schedule, there are expectations that even be late summer or early fall, some Americans might not get their check.

On the other hand, those who have received these payments qualified for the payment. They had filed a tax return using a direct deposit last year or in 2018. Further, a good number of those who will be next to receive via direct deposit may find in on file in their bank.

It is, however, important to point out that there are certain issues in sending out these stimulus check payments. For starters, there have been crashes of the IRS website and millions who have filed their tax returns using third parties have not received a check. The latter can be tied to the issue on the platform.

Needless to say, people need to be confident that they’ll receive their check given the method of confirmation the IRS has employed. Here, a mail is sent to users whose checks have been issued 15 days prior. The mail reveals the amount inputted on the check, the payment method used, and phone number to contact the payment issuer if there is a need to.


The IRS states that you may qualify for the Economic Impact Payment if you meet any of these criteria:

  • If you are a U.S. citizen or resident alien.
  • You have not been claimed as being dependent on another person’s tax return.
  • If you have a Social Security number (SSN), and the SSN can be used for employment. However, there is the exception that if you or your spouse is a member of the U.S. Armed Forces at the taxable year, then just one spouse is required to have an SSN that is valid.
  • If you have an AGI that is below a certain amount. The number of qualifying children you have.

You are ineligible to receive these payments if you are a:

  • Trusts and estates.
  • If your income is over $99,000 for individual filers.If your income is above $198,000 for joint filers.
  • You do not get the extra payment if you have an elderly child or relative who is over 17 years.

Asides from this, if you’re uncertain if you’ll get the stimulus check as a result of not making over $12,200 standard deduction, you’re retired or jobless, these questions have been answered. Reportedly, the CARES Act has provisions that cover people who have not filed their taxes. Needless to say, you’ll have to file your 2019 tax return before July 15, 2020.

The best part about getting paid in the first place is actually putting the money to good use. It may sound like free cash to be spent lavishly, but it may be more rewarding to use it for a more pressing need.


Now that you know what a stimulus check is and whether you are eligible to get one, you’re better positioned on what to expect. You can also take the right measures to ensure you get paid by either filling your direct deposit information or making changes to it. And most importantly, you can tell if your payment has been delayed or missed entirely and the next course of action.

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