Stimulus checks are coming — here's how to make sure you get yours quickly

Spoiler alert: If you haven't filed your taxes since 2017, now is a good time to get that done.
Image: Checks run through the printer at the U.S. Treasury printing facility in Philadelphia in 2005.
Americans should start getting relief checks within three weeks, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday, March 26, 2020.

Consumers eager to receive their stimulus checks from the government's historic coronavirus aid package need to make sure they are up to date on their taxes.

Once the stimulus measure is passed by the House and signed into law, distributions would come via the IRS, which would use 2019 taxpayer forms to determine how much a person's check should be and where it should be sent. If 2019 taxes have yet to be filed, the IRS would use information from taxpayers' 2018 forms.

So if you haven't filed taxes yet for one of those years, now is a good time.

This step is especially important for low-income Americans who don't typically file taxes. In that case, they would still need to file a form. People receiving nontaxable income, would still get checks. People receiving Social Security benefits will also get the payment.

It's not necessary to download special software or use a tax preparer. The IRS has two paths for free filing options, one for those making under $69,000 and another for those making above $69,000. Both can be found on

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Individuals making up to $75,000 a year would receive checks for $1,200, with an additional $500 per child. The payments would progressively decrease for individuals making more than $75,000, with an income cap of $99,000.

Americans should start getting checks within three weeks, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday. By comparison, the IRS took three months to distribute checks in 2009 to battle the Great Recessio

Some experts say that because of budget cuts and "obsolete technology," the IRS would need months, not weeks, to send out payments.

"I don't think any of the policymakers have given any thought to the practical implications of actually doing this. The IRS doesn't have the resources to do it," Howard Gleckman, a senior analyst at the Urban Institute's Tax Policy Center, told Reuters.

People who were planning on receiving paper checks and have moved since they filed their last returns should submit a change of address form, which normally takes four to six weeks to process.

By: Alex Moriarity
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