When Will I Get My Stimulus Check?

DonkeyHotey [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

You want your money. Bankers are already fighting for their part of it. If it takes conflict to make a good story, the banker part will get you; but first let’s cover the basics of what you have coming to you and when:

Your stimulus check is ‘in the mail’ … almost sort of

If you’re a US taxpayer, your money should arrive in the next couple of weeks. That’s if you ordinarily get your tax refunds by direct deposit. If you actually get your US Treasury refunds as checks by mail, your money will take months longer than “soon.”

To qualify for what the IRS is officially calling an “economic impact payment,” you have to have made less than $99,000 last year as an individual or $198,000 jointly. You’ll get one stimulus check of up to $1,200 tax free as an individual or ($2,400 for a couple who filed jointly.

You’ll also get $500 for each child you’ve listed as a dependent. (If you make over $75,000 a year per person or $150,000 jointly, your stimulus check will be reduced by $5 for each additional $100 of income.)

Canada, by comparison, is providing $2,000 a month for four months.

If you haven’t filed for 2019 yet, given the new tax-relief delay, the government will go by your 2018 file. If it’s been longer than that since you filed, you may not get your stimulus check.

If your income is low enough that you don’t pay income tax or you have only non-taxable income, you still need to make sure you’ve filed, showing you have no taxable income. Social Security recipients who don’t typically need to file tax returns are fine. The government knows where to find you!

(Those who need to file, can file for free on the IRS website. And don’t forget filling out a change-of-address form if you’ve moved since your last filing and are not set up for direct deposit.)

According to NBC News, you will get no personal stimulus check if you are in arrears in child support. However, being late on student loan payments or owing back taxes will be just fine.

Banksters still grabbing for a bigger cut of the bailout money

In “The Bailout Bonanza is Back!” I reported on banks wanting to make sure their hands were the first to touch government money aimed at helping those who are unemployed because of the coronacrisis. Now those same banks are stalling on rolling out government stimulus loans to businesses known as the Paycheck Protection Program, which is intended to help workers continue to get paid. The banks are stalling, in part, because they won’t be making enough interest on these risk-free, taxpayer-guaranteed bailout loans.

The Independent Community Bankers of America said the 0.5 percent interest rate mandated by the administration was so low that for many banks “it will not be economic or feasible to participate in the program.” (Politico)

Not quite a enough money, so that program stalled right out of the gate. You may recall from the former article, they also tried to claim that sending money directly to the people who need it would be inefficient and could be wasteful because the banks could get the money to the front lines first.

Well, they lost that argument, and the checks are coming to you. Either way, the money would ultimately be deposited in your own particular bank, but some of the big banks like JPMorgan wanted to make sure it aged awhile in their vaults so they could make sure its was really going to the right people. Somehow that was supposed to get it to you more quickly.

Bacon grease trickles down, and they wanted to catch as much of its way as they could. Bacon grease also floats, and bankers love float … so long as it happening only on their side of the ledger.

Is government up to getting stimulus checks out on time?

The government wants the money out as soon as possible. In March, Bloomberg reported Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin emphasized an expeditious turnaround:

“Americans need cash now, and the president wants to give cash now. And I mean now, in the next two weeks,” Mnuchin said Tuesday at a White House briefing alongside President Donald Trump….

Swearing in of Steven Mnuchin as US Secretary of the Treasury by Vice President Pence @ twitter / Public domain

But we all know that, even though the treasurer has solemnly sworn to do his best, the government’s idea of fast doesn’t always … match our own. Press briefings, after all, are made for show and tell:

…“It is a big number,” Mnuchin told reporters later on Capitol Hill. “This is a very big situation in this economy.”

Consider, however, that NBC News reports,

the IRS took three months to distribute checks in 2009 to battle the Great Recession…. Some experts say that, because of budget cuts and “obsolete technology,” the IRS would need months, not weeks, to send out payments.

That was supposed to happen as quickly as possible, too. Past performance indicates that, while our leaders may be well intentioned, a department short on staffing due to “social distancing” and short on funds due to tax delays may have a tough time getting the money out on time.

As of March 30, the IRS reported,

The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service today announced that distribution of economic impact payments will begin in the next three weeks and will be distributed automatically, with no action required for most people.

(For the most complete government information about available stimulus/aid, the IRS has set up a “Coronavirus Tax Relief page.”)

The banks that argued the government wasn’t paying them enough interest on the similarly targeted Paycheck Protection Program stalled that program. Even though Mnuchin announced on Thursday, April 2, that the Paycheck Protection Program was “live” …

JPMorgan Chase did not mince words in an email on Thursday, April 2: the bank — the largest in the U.S. — would likely not be ready to start distributing loans on Friday, April 3 as was previously planned…. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has been adamant that the program will go forward anyway…. With it being a Friday, many people will be looking to apply before the weekend, which could flood the system. (PYMNTS.com)

And, sure enough:

Thousands flood banks as federal small-business loan program has a chaotic first day

The Trump administration rushed the program’s development, promising small businesses would receive loans the same day they made their applications, an unprecedentedly quick turnaround for a government-backed lending program. But the guidelines for the program were not finalized until late Thursday night….

So, “live” is not quite live. If businesses cannot get their coronavirus stimulus loans in the rapid turnaround time promised, don’t hold your breath for getting your personal stimulus check in three weeks as promised (even though holding your breath may soon become a new part of social distancing). In spite of the problems from banks, I have to hand it to the government for trying to accelerate the program by pushing the banks on this.

To compare the amount of time in which the government is trying to turn these worker relief programs around to similar programs under other administrations, stimulus checks sent out to individuals in 2009 during the Obama administration went out between May and October 2009, and that was two months faster than the checks that went out under the Bush administration between May and December 2008.

Nevertheless, Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) added his own retort to the banks for holding up the latest paycheck programs:

“Please don’t be a bunch of jerks. When you needed the country to help you they did,” he said, referring [to] the 2008 global financial crisis when banks took billions in taxpayer bailouts. “Now the country needs you to help them and we’re paying you to do it, and it’s the government’s money, it’s the taxpayers’ money.”

The banks claim they are just trying to do it right and are concerned a rushed program will leave them liable for fraudulent claims.

The main delays for printed checks, are due to how long it takes them to fly off the press according to Time:

The document from the House Ways and Means Committee says the IRS will make about 60 million payments to Americans through direct deposit in mid-April…. Then, starting the week of May 4, the … paper checks will be issued at a rate of about 5 million per week…. That timeline would delay some checks until the week of Aug. 17…. The IRS expects to create a portal in late April or early May that will allow taxpayers to find out the status of their rebate payment and update direct deposit information.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *