Congress has given final approval to a coronavirus (COVID-19) aid package, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says Americans will start receiving direct payments beginning next week.
Under the measure, American adults and children will each receive payments of $600, based on household income. Single individuals with incomes of up to $75,000 will receive the full $600, with couples earning up to a combined $150,000 a year also getting the full amount.
As incomes increase over those thresholds, the amount of the payment is reduced, until it is finally phased out altogether for high-income individuals and households. Mnuchin said the government will act quickly to get the money in people’s bank accounts.
“People are going to see this money [at] the beginning of next week,” he said during an interview with CNBC. “Much needed relief — and just in time for the holidays.”
First round of payments took longer
To meet that kind of ambitious timetable the system will need to have made some improvements. When the CARES Act was passed in April it took about two weeks for the money to start flowing. Some Americans received their checks quickly but for others, it took several weeks or even months.
The distribution was carried out by the Treasury Department -- specifically, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which is now just beginning to gear up for the 2020 tax-filing season.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) says the agency distributed more than 81 million payments earlier this year totaling more than $147 billion, all through electronic transfers. Recipients will not need to take any action to receive the money since the IRS will base the distribution on 2019 tax returns.
Boosting the economy
The relief measure, which took nine months to negotiate, also provides relief in the form of expanded unemployment benefits. Mnuchin says that, in combination with direct payments, will give the economy a much-needed boost.
“The good news is this is a very, very fast way of getting money into the economy,” Mnuchin said. “Let me emphasize: People are going to see this money at the beginning of next week.”
Mnuchin said he hopes Americans will quickly spend the money, helping the economy and in particular small businesses that have been hard hit by the pandemic.