As part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, Uncle Sam is sending stimulus checks to millions of Americans.
If you're looking to get your stimulus funds -- called economic impact payments -- quickly, you need to verify that the IRS has your most recent bank information or address on file, so it can deposit your funds promptly, experts say.
Here are the steps to take to get your economic stimulus check as soon as possible:
-- Sign up for direct deposit.
-- Review your most recent tax return.
-- Nonfilers, submit your information through the portal.
-- Use "Get My Payment."
The stimulus checks are worth up to $1,200 if you file taxes as single and $2,400 if you're married filing jointly. There's an extra $500 for each dependent child under age 17. The full amount is available to Americans who earned $75,000 or less in adjusted gross income ($150,000 if married filing jointly) in 2019. If you haven't filed 2019 taxes yet, the IRS will look at your 2018 return.
Sign Up for Direct Deposit
Using the IRS' direct deposit system will deliver your stimulus check faster. "It can take as much as several months to get a paper check, opposed to a matter of weeks (with direct deposit)," says Neal Stern, certified public accountant in Long Island and member of the American Institute of CPAs' National CPA Financial Literacy Commission.
If the IRS doesn't have your direct deposit information, it will mail you a paper check, which could take additional weeks or months. So direct deposit is the best method if you're looking for quick delivery.
Many Americans already enrolled in direct deposit when they filed their tax return. If you haven't filed your 2019 income tax return, and it isn't complex, you may want to get on that quickly, especially if you are owed a tax refund, and sign up for direct deposit in the process. "I would encourage taxpayers out there that are due refunds to get their returns in there as quickly as possible," says Rob Seltzer, certified public accountant and financial planner at Seltzer Business Management Inc in Los Angeles.
If you receive Social Security benefits, the IRS can use the bank information used to receive those funds to direct its stimulus check payment.
Review Your Most Recent Tax Return
If you already filed a tax return, or you need more time to file 2019 income taxes, whose due date was extended to July 15, take a moment to review your most recently filed return to see what bank information the IRS has on file.
Your latest tax return -- the one filed for 2018 or 2019 income -- will contain clues to whether you're enrolled in direct deposit and which account is on file. Lines 21a through 21d on Form 1040 record whether you directed your tax refund or payment through a banking institution and your account and routing numbers.
Take a peek at your tax return to determine whether you input that information and to which account you directed the IRS.
Nonfilers, Submit Your Information Through the Portal
On April 10, the IRS unveiled a portal for those who don't file tax returns to input their financial information and receive a stimulus check. "That would be for nonfilers that the IRS might not have records for," says Mitchell Freedman, a certified public accountant and professional financial specialist based in Westlake Village, California.
If you don't normally file a tax return and aren't receiving Social Security or Railroad Retirement benefits, consider using this form. The portal will use your information to complete a Form 1040, so the IRS can send you a payment. So, for example, if you weren't required to file taxes because your earnings were too low, this form could work for you.
[Read: Do I Have to File Taxes?]
People who earn Social Security payments or Railroad Retirement benefits will receive automatic payments in the near future without going through the portal, the IRS says. But Social Security and Railroad Retirement beneficiaries who have qualifying dependents may use the nonfilers' portal to claim the $500 payment per child, according to the IRS.
Some information you'll need on hand includes:
-- Your name.
-- Mailing address.
-- Email address.
-- Your bank account information.
-- Social Security numbers for you and your dependents.
Some Americans, such as those who are claimed as a dependent on a parent's tax return, will not qualify for their own stimulus check and should not use this portal.
Use 'Get My Payment'
To help Americans track their economic stimulus payments, the IRS is working on a tool called Get My Payment that will include the status of their payment. It will also allow eligible taxpayers to provide bank account information to receive their check more quickly. The IRS says it will arrive by April 17.