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[Updated] Here’s How to Ensure You Get Your CARES Act Stimulus Check Quickly

A computer mouse resting on tax forms.

Now that the dust has settled on the political debate leading up to the successful passage of the CARES Act, the wheels are turning to get the stimulus checks to millions of Americans. Here’s how to ensure yours is delivered quickly.

Editor’s Note: The IRS portal is now online and this article has been updated to reflect that.

If you have questions about the CARES Act stimulus payments, ranging from whether or not college students are eligible to what the income cutoffs are, we recommend you check out this excellent frequently-asked-questions format style article at The New York Times.

But if you’re just focused on ensuring you get the stimulus check as quickly as you can, here’s a crash course in what you need to know.

  • If you have filed your taxes for the 2018 or 2019 tax year, the IRS is going to use that information to get the money to you.
  • If you are eligible for the stimulus package, the money will be direct-deposited to your bank account if you have an account on file. If you don’t have direct deposit information on file with the IRS, they will mail a paper check to your address.
  • Direct deposits are projected to start in mid-April, paper checks are projected to begin mailing some time in May.

Clearly, using the direct-deposit system is better if you value faster access to the money—and who doesn’t in these trying times. If you’re not ready to file your taxes, the IRS announced a portal for people to enter their banking information in order to receive their stimulus payments. One detail we want to strongly emphasize: if you paid taxes (instead of receiving a refund), even if you paid electronically you still need to use the IRS web portal to give them your direct deposit information.

As of April 10th, the IRS portal is now online and available for non-filers to input their information.

In addition, the IRS has a partnership with TurboTax. This partnership uses the TurboTax infrastructure to expedite the process of securely gathering taxpayer information to facilitate disbursement of the stimulus payments.

2020 Economic Impact Payment Calculator

You can visit the portal here. It not only helps answer basic questions about whether or not you qualify (based on your income and filing status), but also helps you send your banking information safely to the IRS (regardless of whether you have filed your taxes yet or not).

Even if you’ve never been a fan of online tax services (or TurboTax in particular), this is the fastest and safest way to get your information to the IRS if you haven’t already filed.

Finally, beyond directly working with the IRS via mail, using their portal, or using the TurboTax portal, we urge you to avoid talking to, texting, emailing, or otherwise interacting with anyone about your stimulus check.

There are many, many scammers out there willing to take advantage of people during this time. If you’re not dealing with the IRS, your personal accountant, or an established tax service like TurboTax, you’re likely dealing with a scammer. Stay safe, everyone.

Jason Fitzpatrick Jason Fitzpatrick
Jason Fitzpatrick is the Editor in Chief of LifeSavvy. He has over a decade of experience in publishing and has authored thousands of articles at LifeSavvy, Review Geek, How-To Geek, and Lifehacker. Read Full Bio »
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