Susan Tompor: Stimulus money to hit us in waves, possibly starting April 15

Tribune Content Agency

Much-awaited stimulus cash will begin flooding into millions of bank accounts next week in the first wave of payouts to shore up the nation’s wallets.

Millions of taxpayers will begin receiving the extra money to pay rent, groceries and other bills as early as next week, possibly by April 15. The first group — estimated to cover 50 million to 70 million Americans — would cover people who have already given their bank account information to the Internal Revenue Service.

If you filed your 2019 tax return, for example, the IRS is going to use the same bank account information that you might have supplied for the direct deposit for your income tax refund. You’d want to check your account to verify if the money has arrived.

If you did not yet file a 2019 return, the IRS Is using information from your 2018 tax filing to calculate the payment. And the money would be deposited directly into the same banking account reflected on the return.

The next wave of money could begin as early as the week of April 20 for a group of people who receive Social Security benefits but may not make enough money to be required to file a federal income tax return. You will not need to file any extra forms to receive this money.

Finally, the last wave of money would involve the mailing of actual stimulus checks at a later date. The checks themselves would be staggered.

The first checks are expected to go out to families who have the lowest incomes, possibly those who make less than $10,000 a year, but do not have direct deposit information on file with the IRS.

The idea is to get money to those who need it the most but may be the least likely to have bank accounts.

The first checks could be sent out beginning April 24.

But if you’re stuck getting a check, experts say, you need to wait into May, June and July — depending on how many physical checks the IRS actually ends up mailing.

Your best bet, if you have a bank account, is to make sure that the IRS has your bank account information for direct deposit.

The Treasury Department is expected to launch a web-based portal system sometime late next week that would allow people to provide their own direct deposit information in order to speed up the delivery of money and avoid the checks altogether. See for updates and information on the portal.

The goal is to make the process smoother so people can receive money more quickly by making sure that stimulus money goes directly into bank accounts.

Waiting around for a check could take months. And the notion of sending paper checks across the country during a pandemic is on its face rather absurd. Who’s going to be watching your mailbox if you’re battling the coronavirus in the hospital?

Thieves who make stealing our money their business also would be watching mailboxes, then attempting to steal checks and later cash them via unreputable outfits.

How much money you get will depend on your adjusted gross income, based on information on your 2018 or 2019 tax return.

Tax filers with adjusted gross income up to $75,000 for individuals and up to $150,000 for married couples filing joint returns will receive the full payment.

The maximum is $1,200 for an adult — $2,400 for a married couple — and $500 for children under age 17.

Taxpayers would have an opportunity to reconcile some differences relating to stimulus payouts when they file the 2020 tax return in the 2021 filing season.

“You’ll get any additional money due to you then, but you won’t have to pay anything back if your payment was too high,” according to Jackie Perlman, principal tax research analyst with H&R Block’s Tax Institute.

The stimulus money is not taxable.

“First and foremost, the payments will not be included in 2020 income. Any payment you receive is an advance payment of a credit that will appear on your 2020 income tax return,” said Ken Milani, professor of accountancy at the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame.

Milani gives this example: Say a single taxpayer with two children (both under 17) receives a stimulus check for $2,200 — which breaks down to $1,200 for the taxpayer plus another $1,000 for the children.

When the taxpayer prepares a 2020 income tax return, a $2,200 credit appears on the Form 1040. Elsewhere on the return, the $2,200 advance payment of the credit will surface.

The result is a “wash,” he said.

The final result, Milani said, is that the taxpayer receives $2,200 (non-taxable) to spend and the money is not returned to the IRS.

The vast majority of people do not need to take any action. The IRS will calculate and automatically send the “economic impact payment” to those eligible.



Susan Tompor is the personal finance columnist for the Detroit Free Press. She can be reached at


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