It's been almost a year since the outbreak of the pandemic, and many in the US are still struggling with its impact: about 900,000 Americans filed for unemployment last week. To help rebuild the economy, President Joe Biden is urging Congress to pass his , which contains a for . But his plan and what Congress actually agrees to pass could end up looking very different. Some lawmakers have already come forward saying they want to . "I'm open to negotiate those things," Biden said Monday.
At this point, there are two possible ways a smaller, "skinny" bill that includes just the and money for distribution. Lawmakers are reportedly considering both options this week, as the Senate prepares for the , which is scheduled to start Feb. 9.could be approved. The first would be as part of Biden's sweeping bill, or another large proposal. The second would be as a
The IRS may also take a different path to distributing a, depending on when a bill is passed. For example, it could potentially arrive as that's , or as another standalone payment, similar to the first two checks. We've also got tips for things you can do now to get the . (And if you think you're still , here's how you'll need to contact the IRS.) This story was recently updated.
What might be included in a 'skinny' bill for stimulus checks and vaccines?
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last week said the House would be ready next week to take up Biden's proposal, but didn't confirm whether it would be big or small. There have been suggestions that House Democrats could first put forth a targeted, "skinny" bill on the table for stimulus checks and distribution, followed by a broader stimulus package with other measures. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Monday he aims to get a COVID-19 bill passed by mid-March.
A smaller bill might face less opposition in anand let the IRS start sending out the next checks quicker. However, pressure to pass those measures could make a much larger package easier for opponents to swallow.
While Democrats rejected the idea of a standalone bill during negotiations for December's package, there's certainly precedent for a standalone bill of some sort in the House. The chamber passed the CASH Act on Dec. 28, 2020, a bill that would have amended the signed by Trump to of the to $2,000 instead -- by replacing "$600" with "$2,000" on every mention and "$1,200" (the amount allotted to married couples) with "$4,000). It wasn't taken up in the Senate before the new term began Jan. 3.
How long will it take lawmakers to approve another stimulus check?
If a third stimulus check remains part ofinstead of branching off, mid-March seems to be the going timeline. That's because it would need to go through the typical process of negotiation, a period of extraordinary scrutiny and debate over specific legal language.
There's already an indication that the stimulus check could be New York Times reported., after a group of bipartisan lawmakers asked the Biden administration to propose limiting eligibility, the
The chart below illustrates two potential timelines for when the next stimulus check could be approved and arrive. Note that the dates are illustrative only, and are based on how quickly the IRS sent the second stimulus payments based on your payment group (, and ). We'll update the dates as the situation changes in Washington.
When could the next stimulus check hypothetically arrive?
||Smaller stimulus bill||Larger COVID-19 relief package|
|Stimulus check passes Congress||Feb. 4||March 22|
|Stimulus bill signed into law||Feb. 5||March 23|
|First direct deposit check sent||Feb. 8||March 24|
|First paper checks sent||Feb. 15||March 31|
|First EIP cards sent||Feb. 22||April 7|
|Claims for missing stimulus money open||March 22||May 3|
How quickly could the IRS start sending out the next stimulus checks?
In under three weeks, the IRS and Treasury sent over 100 million . There was a tremendously . For example, it took the IRS 19 days from the date the March 2019 stimulus bill passed to the day the first check was issued. Conversely, the Dec. 27 stimulus package gave the IRS just 17 days total, including weekends. (If you didn't get yours, you have to .)
There was oneas a result of the IRS' rush to get payments delivered, and people who didn't get their payment may now have to . But the scenario suggests that if the protocols are in place, the IRS could theoretically ship out third stimulus checks within days and weeks, rather than weeks and months.
As an interesting data point, the IRS was able to process between 5 million and 7 million a week with the first stimulus check, according to a government report from June.
What happens if a third check gets approved during tax season?
Questions are already swirling around how the IRS and Treasury would handle a, and some of that could very well depend on timing.
Let's say hypothetically that a stimulus bill was to pass both chambers of Congress before Feb. 12, the day the IRS begins processing the first 2020 tax returns. Would they send a separate check or attempt to bundle them in with the Recovery Rebate Credit for missing money from the first two checks? Apart from the fact that Congress would have a very narrow window to pass the bill in this hypothetical scenario, the IRS would have very little time to process the third checks, or change their protocol to wrap the second into taxes.
Now, let's say it passes in early March as part of an overarching COVID-19 relief bill and the checks begin shipping in mid-March. That scenario would still overlap with tax season by a month, before the April 15 tax deadline.
By that time, tens of millions of Americans may have already received their tax refunds, which could make it tricky for the IRS to straighten out or redact after issuing. Things could get complex whether the IRS would attempt to fold a third check delivery into the remaining tax cycle, or send a third check separately.
Is there any way I can get my third stimulus check faster?
While we don't know when a third stimulus check could arrive, there are, when and if it happens. For example, signing up for in your 2020 tax return would put you in the priority category if a third stimulus payment came to be.
And if you've. Here were our other suggestions for people to . Note that, there could be some changes to qualifications that may not apply to a possible third stimulus check.
Would the IRS face another deadline for sending out a third stimulus payment?
The Jan. 15 deadline levied for the second stimulus check was written into the text of the bill without explanation. It isn't immediately clear if the bill text would adopt another cutoff in the future, or if that was a one-time consideration that took into account the IRS' overlapping duties to process stimulus checks and prepare for. Last year, the .
The two overlap with the second stimulus check in that anyone who didn't receive all or part of their second payment must claim it as part of the IRS'-- even if they have .
Will your priority group determine how fast you would get a third check?
We noticed with the first check that the IRS seems to organize when payments go out to certain categories of people based on the method of payment. Basically, payment groups. The second check seemed to have followed the same de-facto priority.
While we can't say for certain what the IRS will do, the main payment groups have consisted of people who get their checks through(the largest group, and the quickest delivery), through in the mail and through , a method that the IRS has told CNET gets payments out faster than physical checks, but which was also the last payment method to go out both stimulus check rounds. It also requires you to activate a prepaid debit card.
The other groups that are loosely defined (by us) include social security beneficiaries, who received payments a different way the first time if they're part of the, and people with more complex scenarios, which could lead to potential . People in have been an example, and so have , and those with more .
Is a third stimulus check definitely going to happen?
While it seems likely given the current discussions in Washington, whether a third stimulus check happens or not, and which form it could take, is up to Congress. The rest, for now, is the basis of today's public conversations in government, and our educated guesses. There's always a chance that a bill may pass one chamber and not the other, or fail entirely. For now, we watch and wait.