Americans have already gotten two stimulus checks, but a new bill offers hope that a third one will soon be on the way. When can you expect the funds?

Things are looking hopeful as the world hits the one-year mark on a massive pandemic. But the U.S. isn’t out of the woods just yet. There are still nearly 10 million people out of work, and many businesses have been forced to close.

It’s a great time for a third stimulus check. The good news is, payments are currently processing. But there is some bad news. In the middle of a busy tax season, processing may take a little longer than usual. But in early April, the IRS pushed the next wave of checks out, so if you haven’t received one yet, you may see it soon. 

Before you get excited, though, this stimulus package has a lower income limit than previous payments.

Here’s what you need to know about your third stimulus check.

What will my payment be?

Is A Third Stimulus Check On The Way? - What will the payment be?

The first stimulus payment, issued in April 2020, provided $1,200 to each qualifying individual. There was a second, lower, payment, approved in Dec. 2020 for $600. But before the second payout was fully distributed, the federal government was already discussing a third payment that was more in line with the first.

The third stimulus payment is actually higher than both of the previous checks, at $1,400. The earliest payments were direct deposited in March, but the IRS said that later batches would include a combination of direct deposit and mailed payments. Those who receive IRS payments by mail will receive the stimulus on either a check or debit card.

Who qualifies for a payment?

If you didn’t qualify for a stimulus payment the first or second time, you won’t this time, either. In fact, the income ceiling is even lower for the third payment. This round of stimulus payments isn’t available at all to those who made more than $80,000, or $160,000 for couples. Those making between $75,000 and $80,000, or $150,000-$160,000 for couples, will receive a reduced amount.

When to expect payment

Is A Third Stimulus Check On The Way? - When to expect payment

The IRS has already issued the third payment to more than 127 million people. This round left out many who receive benefits from Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, the Railroad Retirement Board, and Veterans Affairs, which is what the most recent push was designed to address.

But if you still don’t see your payment in a couple of weeks, there’s a way to track your money. The IRS has set up a Get My Payment tool that can help you track the status of your payment. This will be the most up-to-date information on any payments coming to you from the IRS.

If it seems like this time around, payment is taking longer, there’s a reason for that. The IRS handles processing stimulus payments, and the agency is in the heart of tax season. The tax deadline has been extended to May 17, so that means the IRS is dealing with processing returns, refunds, and stimulus payments all at once.

How do I get my third stimulus payment?

As before, stimulus payments will be deposited in your account. If you’ve already set that up with the IRS, you’re all set. The IRS will use the information that it already has on you. This includes previous tax refunds you’ve had directly deposited in your bank account in addition to the prior stimulus payments.

If you haven’t set up direct deposit with the IRS, now’s a great time to take care of that. When you file this year’s taxes, choose direct deposit as the payment method for your refund. This will ensure any future stimulus payments will get to you as quickly and reliably as possible.

What if you don’t have a bank account? As with your previous payments, you’ll get a paper check or debit card in the mail. This process takes longer, though, so if you haven’t already set up direct deposit, this could be the reason you haven’t seen your payment yet.

Should you wait to file your 2020 taxes before your stimulus check comes in?

Is A Third Stimulus Check On The Way? - A note about filing your 2020 taxes

The third stimulus check is based on your most recently filed tax return. That will be either your 2020 or 2019 taxes, depending on where your 2020 filing is in the process. So if you didn’t qualify last time around, but your income changed, your stimulus payment status eligibility may change, as well.

That brings a very important question. If your income puts you near a possible cutoff, should you go ahead and file your 2020 taxes or wait? If you think you might exceed the income threshold in 2020 when you didn’t in 2019, some tax preparers are saying to wait. However, waiting will delay your refund. It can’t hurt to calculate your adjusted gross income for 2020 and decide whether to wait until the May deadline to file in order to maximize your stimulus payout.

What if I’m still waiting on my second payment?

Forget the third stimulus check. What if you’re still waiting for the second one to hit your bank account? (Or arrive in your mailbox?)

If you haven’t yet received your first or second stimulus check, the IRS has directed taxpayers to file your 2020 tax return to get it. You’ll simply claim it as a tax credit when you file your return.

If you use tax preparation software, it should guide you through the process. If not, see the instructions for Form 1040 and Form 1040-SR

While you’re filing, though, make sure the account information the IRS has on you is correct. If you never received your stimulus payments, it could be a sign that the IRS can’t get payments to you, which means you may have trouble getting your refund, let alone any future stimulus payments.

Summary

The third stimulus payment may not come through as quickly as previous payments, but it’s on its way. Filing your 2020 tax return and monitoring your payment status through the IRS are the best things to do in the interim. You’ll likely receive your payment soon enough, but the wait can be challenging, especially when all your friends are receiving theirs.

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About the author

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Stephanie Faris has written about finance for entrepreneurs and marketing firms since 2013. She spent nearly a year as a writer for a credit card processing service and has written about finance for numerous marketing firms and entrepreneurs. Her work has appeared on Retirable, The Motley Fool, MoneyGeek, Ecommerce Insiders, GoBankingRates, and ThriveBy30. Learn more about Stephanie on her website or find her on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter.