News of a possible third stimulus check has consumers stumped. They were still waiting on the second payment, while watching friends receive theirs. When will those second payments arrive?

If you’re checking your bank account every day, looking for the second stimulus payout, you aren’t alone. It seems like everyone else has the money already. Yes, some of the money issued in early January but that doesn’t mean you’re the only one still waiting.

This tax season, don’t wait for your refund. File on time with TurboTax

If you haven’t received your second payment yet, you’ll probably need to claim it when you file your taxes. But the IRS has a tool that will help you trace your payment. If it hasn’t been sent yet, filing your taxes is the quickest way to get your stimulus payment, but you’ll still have to wait for the IRS to process it.

Understanding stimulus checks

The stimulus program was created in direct response to COVID-19. As everything shut down to stop the impact of the pandemic in the U.S., the government wanted to reduce the impact on businesses. By issuing a payment to all qualifying households, the hope is that people will spend, spend, spend.

Under the provisions of the first bill, every qualifying household received a one-time payment of up to $1,200, or $2,400 for married couples who file their taxes jointly. The second payment, approved in December, issues $600 per person, or $1,200 for married couples, plus an additional $500 per child.

Qualifying for a stimulus check

If you haven’t received your check yet, are you sure you’re getting one? Those with an adjusted income above $75,000 ($150,000 for married couples) who have no qualifying dependents won’t get a check at all. Your income is based on what you reported on your 2019 federal income tax return.

That brings us to your tax filing. As tax season begins, you’ll input information on your stimulus payment, known as the Recovery Rebate Credit for tax purposes, on Form 1040. The IRS is providing a worksheet to help you figure how much the IRS owes you. Any money you’re due will be issued as part of your tax refund.

The stimulus money you’ve already received will also be reported on your taxes but won’t be counted as taxable income. It also won’t impact the refund you get. You’ll only see an impact on your refund if you haven’t received the money that was due to you based on your income and household setup.

It’s important to note, though, that even if you file your taxes today, there will be a delay. The IRS won’t begin processing tax returns until February 12th. If you’re eager to see your second stimulus payment, you’ll boost your chances by filing as early as possible and setting up direct deposit for your refund.

You can use the calculator below to determine the amount you can expect.

Check vs. direct deposit

If you received your first stimulus payment by mail, you probably already know that direct deposit is the fastest way to get your money. This also goes for tax refunds. If you use tax software to file your taxes, you simply select direct deposit as your refund method. You’ll be directed to input your bank account information and from that point forward, any future stimulus payments should be deposited to that account.

TurboTax is already preparing to answer questions about the Recovery Rebate Credit. The tax preparation software has been updated to walk you through any changes that COVID-19 made to this year’s taxes. You’ll just need Notice 1444, which was sent to you when you received your first and/or second stimulus payments. If you have any questions, you can connect to a tax expert to get the answers you need.

What if the Get My Payment tool shows that the amount was sent but you haven’t received it? The IRS can trace your payment to see if it was cashed. If not, the IRS will credit your account to show that you never received it. Another check won’t be issued at this point, but you’ll be able to claim the rebate on your tax return and get the money along with your tax refund.

What about a third payment?

There’s good and bad news when it comes to a third payment. The good news is that President Biden has signed a $1,200 payment to go to each qualifying American. The bad news is that it could be a while before you see the money in your account.

Why the delay? As before, it has to go through Congress first. Experts are hopeful it could be approved as early as mid-February or early March. But as before, it will take a while to get the machine moving so that those payments are in your account. Complicating matters is the fact that the IRS, which issues the payments, will be deep into tax season if that timeline holds, which could further slow things down.

While you wait…

Let’s face it: all of us could use the extra money right now. But if your circumstances are stressing you out, there are some steps you can take to potentially relieve some of the pressure.

If you haven’t already, get in touch with your lenders to find out if you can delay or reduce payments until things improve. You may have already checked into unemployment. Make sure you’re signed up to get the extra $300 a week that some states have already begun issuing.

Summary

The stimulus payment stands to help out the many Americans impacted by COVID-19. Waiting for that payment can be tough, but at this point, filing your taxes as early as possible is the best you can do to speed things up.

If you haven’t already, make sure you direct the IRS to issue your refunds via direct deposit to get any future payments moving quickly.

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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.