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Coronavirus stimulus checks are on the way — if you haven’t gotten one already

Deposits began Saturday; the IRS expects to launch a tool allowing Americans to check the status of their relief funds by April 17.

A woman in pink rides her bike across a sunny street; behind her, two older Americans bundled up in coats cross a crosswalk. All three are wearing masks.
Pedestrians in New York City on April 11 — a few of the millions who can expect stimulus funds in the days to come.
Cindy Ord/Getty Images

The IRS has sent out the first batch of stimulus payments designed to both aid those experiencing financial difficulties and encourage spending as the coronavirus pandemic grinds the US economy to a halt.

“We know many people are anxious to get their payments; we’ll continue issuing them as fast as we can,” the IRS tweeted on Saturday.

The IRS’s deposits will continue rolling out in the coming days, and the agency has said it is creating a website that will tell Americans who have yet to receive their stimulus funds when they can expect to receive them — the site is expected to be available by April 17.

The payments are being sent through direct deposit to people who filed taxes for 2018 and 2019 and authorized direct deposit for their returns. But CNN’s Sam Fossum and Kelly Mena note “people who haven’t filed returns, authorized direct deposits, or receive Social Security” may have to wait weeks — or months — to receive money.

The cash transfers are part of the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package passed in March, which, among other things, expanded unemployment insurance and provided loans to small businesses and large corporations.

As Vox’s Li Zhou and Ella Nilsen have explained, the size of the deposits being sent out depends on income:

Most adults making less than an adjusted gross income of $75,000 annually will receive a $1,200 one-time payment. Payments will go out to individuals whose income is as much as $99,000, but those bringing in more than $75,000 won’t receive the full amount.

Married couples without children will receive a total of $2,400 if their joint income is less than $150,000 annually. Payments will go out to couples whose income is as much as $198,000, but those bringing in more than $150,000 won’t receive the full amount.

Households with children will also receive $500 each for each child if the parent’s income qualifies for these payments and if the child is under the age of 17.

Taxpayers who have filed as “head of household” in the past will receive the full $1,200 if their income is less than $112,500.

There are some caveats to these rules — for instance, adults who are claimed as dependents by other adults, like many college students or adults with disabilities, will not be eligible for a direct payment.

In order to get checks to those who have not filed taxes in the past two years (for example, people who make too little income to owe taxes but are not on Social Security, recently incarcerated people, and people who are homeless), the IRS has created a “minimal return” tool — essentially a mini tax return — that collects one’s essential information.

People who don’t need to use this tool include those who have already filed a federal tax return for 2018 or 2019, and people who receive Social Security retirement or disability benefits.

It’s unclear if people who receive Supplemental Security Income need to fill out the form, but according to NBC News, tax experts recommend filling out the form to be safe. The IRS also plans to build an online portal for people who have filed taxes but need to update direct deposit information.

For those who won’t be receiving money by direct deposit, the IRS is expected to begin sending out paper checks on April 24, and will prioritize lower-income recipients first; higher earners receiving the funds by check can expect to receive their money by September.