Anyone still waiting for a federal COVID-19 stimulus payment must act by Wednesday to receive their money by direct deposit, the IRS says.
The government is urging taxpayers to provide their bank account information online by noon if they want to speed up delivery of the money. Otherwise, qualified recipients will receive a paper check through the mail, which could take several more weeks to arrive.
Many in Fresno and Visalia Prefer Paper Checks
Many Valley residents are likely to be among those who will be waiting by the mailbox to receive their stimulus payments, according to research from the personal finance website MagnifyMoney. The site’s analysis found fewer people in Fresno and Visalia used direct deposit to receive tax refunds in recent years, compared to recipients in other cities.
The delivery method being used by the IRS for stimulus payments is based on taxpayer information from 2018 and 2019 returns. Those who received a refund by mail will receive their stimulus payment the same way, unless they have updated their preference using the “ Get My Payment ” tool on the IRS website.
Visalia topped the list of paper check recipients, with almost 30% of all tax refunds being delivered by mail in the past two years. Fresno was close behind with a paper check rate of just over 24%. By comparison, only about 10% of taxpayers in Tulsa, Oklahoma, received tax refunds in the mail. That is the lowest rate of all 100 cities included in the analysis.
Once Check Printing Begins, Direct Deposit Not an Option
The Treasury Department says, after Wednesday, the IRS will begin preparing millions of files to send to Bureau of Financial Services to begin printing paper checks, which will arrive in the mail through late May and into June. The government cannot provide direct deposit once the process of sending a paper check has commenced.
The IRS says it has sent out about 130 million total payments in the first four weeks of the program.
Any U.S. citizen with a valid Social Security number who makes up to $75,000 will get a payment of $1,200; married couples who file jointly and earn less than $150,000 will get $2,400. The payment steadily declines for those who make more, and phases out for those who earn more than $99,000; or $198,000 for married couples. The thresholds are different for those who file as head of household. Parents will get $500 for each eligible child as well.
The Get My Payment tool can be used to check on the status of a payment or provide direct deposit information. It has not always operated smoothly, but the IRS said many of its early glitches have been resolved.
Many Non-Filers are Eligible for Stimulus Payments, Too
The government will automatically send payments based on the information provided in 2019 or 2018 tax returns. Automatic payments will also be sent to those receiving Social Security retirement, disability benefits, Railroad Retirement benefits, Veterans Affairs benefits or Supplemental Security Income soon, according to the IRS.
People who do not traditionally file tax returns, such as low income or homeless, are eligible but must provide basic information through the Non-Filer tool on the site to get payment.
The payments are part of a massive economic relief package Congress passed to lessen the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
(Associated Press contributed to this article.)