KEY POINTS

  • Single Americans making under $75,000 gross annually will reportedly receive $1,200, while any making $75,000 or more receive less and those making over $99,000 won't qualify
  • Married couples making under $150,000 annually will reportedly receive $2,400, and parents will received an additional $500 for every child living at home under the age of 17
  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he hoped for checks to begin going out within two weeks, though some economists have cautioned it could take longer due to factors unrelated to COVID-19

Combating economic consequences due to coronavirus pandemic, Congress on Wednesday reached a deal on a $2 trillion stimulus package, the largest economic stimulus measure in modern history, that provides financial assistance to hospitals, small businesses and corporations, while guaranteeing most Americans will receive a check for around $1,200.

No concrete date has been given for when the checks will reach American households. It will likely take until at least May. 

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had previously said he hoped for the checks to go out within two weeks of the deal being reached but did not comment about it after the deal was struck. 

Some economists have warned that it could take some time for the checks to be sent out based on factors related and unrelated to coronavirus.

"Certainly from what we've seen in the past, it's taken a pretty significant amount of time to get checks out after a policy is put in place," Tax Foundation economist Erica York said.

Around two-thirds of the benefits will go to Americans living in lower to middle-income houses. Single people with an adjusted gross annual income under $75,000 would reportedly qualify to receive a check for $1,200, while married couples earning less than $150,000 would receive $2,400. Parents will receive an extra $500 for every child living at home under the age of 17.

Single people making over $75,000 annually still qualify to benefit but will receive less, while anyone making over $99,000 don’t qualify. Married couples making $150,000 or more will receive less, while couples making over $198,000 will not receive any assistance.

The U.S. Tax Policy Center will help determine who qualifies by checking against tax returns from 2019 and 2018, depending on if a recipient had already filed their taxes before the original date of April 15. This was subsequently extended by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin until July 15 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The last two stimulus packages of note were in 2001 after the World Trade Center attacks and in 2008 during the Great Recession.

It took the IRS about six weeks in 2001 to begin mailing out rebate checks after President George W. Bush's tax cuts and stimulus deal was agreed upon.

It took over three months for rebates to go out in 2008 as Americans had to file their taxes first before waiting eight to 12 weeks for their checks. Anyone with authoritized direct deposit reportedly received it faster, thought it still took around four weeks for those to be deposited.

Tax Policy Center's Howard Gleckman said most Americans will likely receive their rebates faster this time as most have switched to electronic banking. However, Nina Olsen, the former-National Taxpayer Advocate at the IRS from 2010 to 2019, warned the process could still take time because of budget and staff cuts made at the agency over the last ten years.

"It's just a recipe for confusion," Olsen said. "There can be a lot of complexity involved in something as simple as sending a check out."

The rest of the stimulus deal will go to businesses and hospitals hit hard by coronavirus, with $100 billion going to hospitals and around $850 billion being split between small businesses and corporations. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said President Trump, his family, and his businesses will not receive the benefits from the stimulus deal.

“Ladies and gentleman, we are done,” White House legislative affairs director Eric Ueland told reporters. “We have a deal.”

Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and other Senate leaders continue to work to avoid any last-minute snags with the bill.

“In effect, this is a wartime level of investment for our nation,” McConnell said. “After days of intense discussions, the Senate has reached a bipartisan agreement on a historic relief package for this pandemic.”

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