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The IRS only has 4 days left to send your second stimulus check. What you should know

Updated: Jan 12, 2021

The IRS is using a schedule to make the second stimulus payments. Here's what we know, plus an extra step you have to take after the deadline.

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“The $900 billion stimulus legislation from late December sets Jan. 15 as the cutoff date to send stimulus payments -- that was only a total of 17 days from start to finish, including weekends.”

This Friday marks the final day the IRS and Treasury Department jointly have to send out second stimulus checks to everyone who's eligible to receive a payment. However, if you don't get your $600 checks (or greater) shortly after the deadline is Jan. 15, you'll have to request it later this year on your taxes -- a requirement that will set your stimulus check delivery behind. (You can track your stimulus check status here and follow your payment to your mailbox.)

The next week and a half promises to be turbulent in Washington, with the House poised to impeach President Donald Trump this week, pressure on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment following last week's violent mob attack on the Capitol and President-elect Joe Biden's Jan. 20 inauguration next week. The Jan. 15 deadline is one more important moment to add to the mix as COVID-19 cases set a new high.

Although the IRS and Treasury made approximately 80% of the payments by the end of last week through direct deposit, paper checks and EIP cards -- that still leaves 20% of money waiting to go out this week. The checks are moving so quickly, in fact, that there's already been a major blunder (which may be partially resolved), leaving millions of people without their stimulus payment. Read on for more details about second stimulus check payments. (P.S. Here's what we know about a $2,000 third stimulus check.) This story has been updated.

Why is there a Jan. 15 cutoff for stimulus checks to begin with?

The $900 billion stimulus legislation from late December sets Jan. 15 as the cutoff date to send stimulus payments -- that was only a total of 17 days from start to finish, including weekends. The writers of the legislation didn't explain why they chose this date. Tax season, which heavily involves both the IRS and Treasury, typically begins in mid-to-late January and continues through April 15.

If you don't receive your full second stimulus check money shortly after Jan. 15, you will need to take the extra step of claiming all or part of the missing amount when you file your federal tax returns this year as a Recovery Rebate Credit. You'll also be able to claim any money the IRS still owes you from the first round of checks as a credit.

Some people who received their stimulus payment through direct deposit have run into problems. If you experience any issue or hold up with any of the three payment methods, it means you'll have to wait until you file a claim -- and take the extra step to do so.

Tying the delivery of a second stimulus check to the 2020 tax return will almost certainly delay the payment for many people, since a wide variance in circumstances will cause some to file taxes as early as January and others as late as April 15, or even later if they need to request an extension. It also isn't clear how quickly the IRS would process payments as a Recovery Rebate Credit.

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