Americans likely won’t begin to see direct payments from the coronavirus stimulus bill until at least April 13 and it could take 20 weeks for all the checks to be mailed, Trump administration officials told lawmakers, according to a House Democratic memo obtained by CNN.
The timeline means tens of millions of Americans will have to wait to get badly needed assistance, despite repeated earlier suggestions from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that the money would go out as soon as April 6.
Mnuchin said at Thursday’s White House coronavirus briefing that payments would go out within two weeks to people whose direct deposit details are on file with the government, echoing comments he made this past Sunday after passage of the $2.2 trillion stimulus bill that payments would not go out until mid-April.
He added that a web portal would be established for people to supply their details and that checks would be sent to anyone else, but did not specify a timeline.
“I am assuring the American public, they need the money now,” he said.
CNN reported in March that former IRS officials said the wait would likely be weeks or months for payments.
Initially, the IRS will make about 60 million payments, likely in the week of April 13, for taxpayers who provided their direct deposit information through their 2018 or 2019 tax returns, the memo from the House Ways and Means Committee says.
Three weeks later, on the week of May 4, the IRS expects to start issuing paper checks to individuals whose bank information isn’t already on file, a process that will take much longer.
According to the committee, the paper checks will be issued at a rate of about 5 million per week, and that it could take up to 20 weeks to issue all the checks. Individuals with the lowest income, based on adjusted gross income, will receive their checks first.
The Ways and Means Committee memo detailed its understanding of the timeline based on “extensive” conversations with Treasury and IRS officials. It said that the timelines are subject to change.
The law stipulates that individuals who earn $75,000 or less will receive $1,200, and couples making $150,000 or less will receive twice that amount, with an additional $500 per child. The payments decrease for individuals and couples who make more money, with individuals who make more than $99,000 receiving nothing.
Congressional aides were told last week when they were briefed by the IRS that roughly 150 million taxpayers will be eligible for the payments, but of those the IRS estimated they only had about 70 million people’s direct deposit information on file. That means for roughly 80 million Americans, the IRS will have to rely on mailing checks.
“The Bureau of Fiscal Service estimates they can cut 20 million checks a month,” a source familiar told CNN.
The checks could take even longer to get to people for whom the IRS does not have tax information.
The IRS envisions having an online system in place by late April or early May to allow taxpayers to update their direct deposit information and to track the status of their payments, according to the memo.