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Some Americans may have already received stimulus payments

Treasury Secretary Mnuchin says the money started flowing Tuesday night

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Photo (c) Michael Burrell - Getty Images
You might want to check your bank account this morning. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says the first stimulus payments began hitting some people’s accounts Tuesday night.

The payments are part of a $900 billion coronavirus (COVID-19) aid package passed by Congress last week and signed, after some delay, by President Trump Sunday night. Under the measure, every American will receive $600.

As was the case under the CARES Act passed in the early days of the pandemic, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will make the payments using 2019 tax records. Taxpayers who have a direct deposit relationship with the IRS will get their money first.

"@USTreasury has delivered a payment file to the @FederalReserve for Americans’ Economic Impact Payments,” Mnuchin wrote in a late Tuesday tweet. “These payments may begin to arrive in some accounts by direct deposit as early as tonight and will continue into next week." 

Those who do not have a direct deposit relationship with the IRS will receive their payments in the form of paper checks. Mnuchin said those checks could begin to be mailed as early as today.

That would be a much faster timeline than the rollout of payments under the CARES Act. Many Americans waited several weeks to receive their money. 

Potential headwinds for the second payment’s ambitious timeline include an IRS gearing up for tax season and a U.S. Postal Service still recovering from the holiday season crush.

Income limits

Not every American will receive a payment but a majority will. Individuals earning up to $75,000 a year will receive the full amount, as will households earning up to $150,000. As incomes rise above those levels the amount of the payment begins to decline until it is phased out altogether.

Adults, as well as children, will receive the payments so that a family of four will receive a payment of $2,400. House Democrats and President Trump have pushed to raise the amount of the payment to $2,000 but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has added provisions to that measure that are unacceptable to Democrats, dooming it to failure.

President-elect Joe Biden also favors increasing the payments to $2,000. In a statement, Biden called the $600 a “down payment” and promised his administration would work with Congress to extend more aid once it takes office January 20.

The payments are intended to help Americans who are struggling economically during the pandemic but have a secondary purpose. Lawmakers say giving Americans an infusion of cash will stimulate the economy, which has begun to lag again in the face of economic hardships caused by the pandemic.

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