Coronavirus Relief Checks Are Almost Here. 3 Questions We Still Have

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It’s only been three weeks since coronavirus stimulus checks were approved as part of a $2.2 trillion relief package — but it feels more like three years for a lot of us.

The good news is that the wait is almost over. If you have direct deposit and you’re eligible for the full benefit based on your income, you’ll receive $1,200 if you’re single, $2,400 total if you’re married and $500 for each dependent child 16 or younger. 

Here’s all of our coverage of the coronavirus outbreak, which we will be updating every day.

If you receive a paper check, the wait will be a lot longer. Each week, the IRS will mail about 5 million checks, which means the final ones won’t arrive until early September.

While we all wait for our deposits to clear or our checks to arrive, we still have questions.

3 Questions We Still Have About Coronavirus Checks

Our coronavirus stimulus checks FAQ is frequently updated with the latest information we have about the payments. But here are a few things we still don’t know.

1. Who Will Count as a Child 16 or Younger?

You won’t get a $500 credit for a dependent child 17 or older — and that child won’t receive a $1,200 payment if you claimed them as a dependent. But what’s the cutoff date of birth that would make a child ineligible?

The stimulus payments are an advance on a credit for your 2020 taxes. So that would suggest that anyone who turns 17 before Dec. 31, 2020 wouldn’t be eligible.

But the catch is that the payments will be based on your 2018 or 2019 returns, so it isn’t clear whether the IRS would give you the credit if your child was 16 or younger when you filed your most recent return.

2. When Can We Update Our Bank Account Info?

If you’ve already filed your 2019 tax return but you’ve closed the bank account you use, there’s no way to update that information right now. Same goes for if you usually receive a paper check but want to provide the IRS with your direct deposit information so you can get your payment faster.

The IRS has said it will create a portal on its website and that it’s a high priority, but it hasn’t said when the feature will be available.

3. How Can You Contact the IRS if You Don’t Get Your Payment or You Think It’s Wrong?

The IRS still hasn’t said what the process will be for those who don’t get a payment when they expected to receive one or receive an incorrect amount.

Right now, it’s pretty much impossible to contact the IRS. The only wisdom the IRS has on its website for anyone with questions about their payments is as follows:

  • Do not call.
  • Most people won’t need to take any action.
  • Check back often for updates.

Robin Hartill is a senior editor at The Penny Hoarder and a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™. She is the voice behind the Dear Penny personal finance advice column.