NBC NEWS- After Congress passed a new Covid-19 relief bill late Monday, millions of Americans are set to receive a new round of direct payments.
For most recipients, the checks will be smaller than those sent out in the previous Covid-19 aid package, but still a welcome sight to Americans struggling through the pandemic economy.
Here are some answers to the big questions surrounding the soon-to-be-sent payments.
How much will I get?
Individuals who made up to $75,000 in 2019 will receive $600. Married couples who earned up to $150,000 will receive $1,200. Filers listed as "head of household" and who earned $112,500 or less will also get $600. And families will receive an additional $600 — up from $500 in the spring — for each dependent under 18 in the household.
If your 2020 income qualifies you for a larger benefit than your 2019 filing, the difference in payment can be claimed on tax returns filed next year — a process that starts next month.
According to text of the legislation released Monday afternoon, the program is structured similarly to that of this past spring, with the checks getting smaller and eventually down to zero the further you get from $75,000 for individuals, $112,500 for heads of households and $150,000 for joint filers.
When will I get my money?
In all likelihood, even faster than you did earlier this year. With the stimulus package expected to be signed by President Donald Trump this week, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC on Monday that he expects some payments to go out "by the beginning of next week."
"And, again, let me emphasize, people will see this money the beginning of next week," he said. "So, it's very fast."
That would be faster than last time around, when payments took a couple of weeks for most (and longer for others). What's behind the improved speed? This is largely due to the government being more prepared now after having collected information on certain individuals — including those who may not have filed recent tax returns — during the previous round.
For those who receive paper checks rather than direct deposits, the turnaround time is likely to take longer.
Where do I sign up?
Just like this spring, there's nothing you need to sign up for. If you've filed a tax return in recent years, are a Social Security or disability beneficiary, or are a disabled veteran, you qualify for the payments and the federal government will be sending the checks to the direct deposit account it has on file for either your tax refund or benefits.
If you received a paper check in the spring and have not provided the government with direct deposit information in the months since, that is how the payment will be sent to you in the coming weeks. Should you have moved in the time since the last round of payments, it is a good idea to update your address with the IRS as soon as possible.
Like last time, the Treasury Department will also be rolling out an educational campaign to assist those with check-related questions. You can also check out the IRS's helpful "Get My Payment" tool on their website. Lastly, if you have not filed taxes in recent years, are not on Social Security or disability payments, and are not listed as a dependent, it's advisable for you to file tax return paperwork so that the government can have a direct deposit on file in case you are eligible.
How does the government determine how much I earned?
If you filed taxes for 2019, the total is based on your "adjusted gross income," which can be found on Line 8B of Form 1040 on a 2019 return.
What if I'm a college student?
It depends on whether you are claimed as a dependent by your parents. If so, you are not eligible. But if you are independent of your family and have been filing tax returns, you might be eligible.
Are there any major eligibility changes from last time?
The biggest eligibility change involves households where one or more people has a Social Security number while another member or members do not. In the spring, such households were entirely barred from receiving such payments. This time, payments will be sent to every eligible member of such households — those with Social Security numbers.
The change is retroactive, so these households will be able to claim money from the first round of stimulus checks as part of the tax returns they file next year.
What if I'm a non-citizen?
Like last time, so long as you have a valid Social Security number, you qualify.
Are these payments taxable and do I have to pay any of it back?
Will these checks also have Trump's name on them?
The administration maneuvered to get the president's name on the last round of checks, despite some pushback from critics, but it's unclear if it will happen again. The Treasury Department did not respond to a request for clarification about the signature on Monday.