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What to expect with the upcoming stimulus, including a critical deadline

If checks aren't on the way by January 15th, you'll need to claim it in your taxes.

MINNEAPOLIS — Efforts to increase direct stimulus payments to Americans are still alive in Washington. But with the fate of $2,000 payments uncertain in the Senate, here's what you can take to the bank right now.

How much can I expect to get?

Unless the Senate acts soon, most Americans will receive $600 (married couples will receive $1,200). Families will also receive an additional $600 for each dependent child 16 years old or younger. 

Like the first stimulus, payments for some people could be reduced if they exceed certain income thresholds. To find out what you can expect to receive, begin by looking at last year's tax return. If you filed as an individual and your 2019 adjusted gross income was $75,000 or less, you'll get the full $600. If you're a couple filing jointly and have a combined income of $150,000 or less, you'll receive $1,200.

If you made more than that, the money you receive will decrease by $5 for every $100 in income above those thresholds. There are several stimulus calculators online to help you with the math but, keep in mind, the payment is reduced to zero if your income hits $87,000 as an individual or $174,000 as a couple.

When will payments arrive?

The answer will largely depend on if you have direct deposit set up with the IRS. If you received the first stimulus payment via direct deposit, you could start seeing the money in you account in the next week or two. Those who waited for a check or debit card, may miss out until tax time. That's because, according to the relief bill, the IRS and US Treasury can only send checks until January 15th. After that, you'll need to claim your payment as a "Recovery Rebate" credit on your federal tax return, so the timing will depend on when you file.

What if my income changed dramatically in 2020?

If you didn't qualify for a stimulus payment because your 2019 income was too high, but you qualify now due to a loss of income in 2020, you can also claim your payment as a "Recovery Rebate" tax credit when you file.

What if I had a child in 2020?

If you added a child to the family in the last year, they still qualify for the additional $600, but you won't see it in your direct payment. You'll also need to wait until you file your federal taxes and claim a "Recovery Rebate" tax credit.