How to get a stimulus check from the US government, which could pay up to $1,200 if you qualify

  • A $2 trillion economic relief bill was signed into law on Friday, meaning many Americans will soon receive one-time payments of up to $1,200. 
  • To get a stimulus check from the IRS, you need to have a Social Security number and live in the US.  
  • The amount you would receive depends on the adjusted gross income reported on your latest tax return
  • The IRS would disburse the funds according to the direct-deposit information on your latest tax return or send a check to the address it has on file.
  • This post will be updated as more details are released.
  • Read more personal finance coverage.

President Donald Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, into law on Friday.

The $2 trillion stimulus package, the largest emergency-relief bill in American history, will direct one-time payments, or “recovery rebates,” of up to $1,200 to many Americans.

You do not have to sign up to receive a stimulus check. The process would be automatic for any American who qualifies.

Here’s how to get a stimulus check: 

1. Have a Social Security number

To get a stimulus check, you need to have a Social Security number and live in the US. Nonresident aliens, people without a Social Security number, and adult dependents are not eligible.

2. File a tax return for 2018 or 2019

The size of your stimulus check would be based on the adjusted gross income listed on the latest tax return you filed. For most people, that’s either this year’s tax return or 2018’s.

Americans whose adjusted gross income was less than $75,000 would receive the maximum amount: $1,200. Reduced payments would be sent to single filers who earned between $75,000 and $99,000, or married filers who earned between $150,000 and $198,000. There’s also a $500 payment per child under age 17 for parents in the bill.

Business Insider’s Andy Kiersz created the following chart showing how much taxpayers would receive from the stimulus package based on filing status and income.

coronavirus stimulus checks by income v2

Andy Kiersz/Business Insider

3. Check your direct-deposit information

The IRS would disburse the funds according to the direct-deposit information provided on the last tax return you filed. If you collect Social Security benefits because of retirement or disability and use direct deposit, the IRS would use that.

It’s unclear which date the Treasury would use as a cutoff for processing these payments, but if you haven’t filed your 2019 tax return yet and want to make sure your stimulus check would get deposited in the right account, file as soon as possible.

You wouldn’t have to do anything but wait for the deposit to show up in your bank account. If the bank account you previously listed is no longer active, you’d likely wind up receiving a paper check.

Nicole Kaeding, the vice president of policy promotion and an economist at the National Taxpayers Union Foundation, tweeted shortly after the bill passed in the Senate that about 60% of tax filers provided direct-deposit information on their returns last year.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a White House briefing that the agency was hoping to get direct-deposit payments to people as soon as three weeks from the passage of the bill.

4. Check your mail

If you didn’t provide bank information on your last tax return, the IRS would mail your check to the most recent home address it has on file. Checks typically take longer to receive since they’re sent via USPS. If you recently moved, you should notify the IRS as soon as possible.

It’s unclear at this time how the IRS plans to reach Americans at the lowest income levels who aren’t required to file a tax return. “The challenge will be reaching individuals who don’t file tax returns but do not claim Social Security benefits,” Kaeding told The Hill.

This post will be updated as more details are released.

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