WASHINGTON – Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced Thursday that many Americans reeling from the financial impacts caused by the coronavirus outbreak can expect to see their one-time stimulus checks of up to $1,200 show up in their bank accounts in about two weeks. For those without direct deposit, Mnuchin promised checks would go out quickly in a matter of “weeks.”
The announcement followed a memo sent out by House Democrats that warned some Americans could have to wait up to 20 weeks – or five months – before they receive their checks.
When asked about the memo, which was sent out by the House Ways and Means Committee, during a White House coronavirus task force briefing Thursday, Mnuchin said it was “not going to take” that long.
“Quickly, as a matter of weeks and not months,” Mnuchin said of the money going out.
He said the IRS was working on establishing a portal that would allow those for whom the IRS does not have direct deposit information to input their banking information, allowing Americans to get a check faster.
The Treasury Department told USA TODAY the first batch of stimulus checks would go out in two weeks, meaning about 50 million to 70 million Americans would get the money directly into their bank accounts by April 15. Over the next three weeks, the department said the “overwhelming majority of eligible Americans” will have received their payment.
The Democratic memo, sent out to House Democrats by the House Ways and Means Committee, offered a timeline for when the checks could reach Americans. The notice highlighted that the timeline was based off “extensive conversations with the IRS and the Department of Treasury” and was subject to change.
The memo said around mid-April, likely the week of April 13, the Internal Revenue Service planned to issue payments to about 60 million Americans through direct deposit. These payments will be made to those whom the IRS has direct deposit information for from their 2018 and 2019 tax returns, the memo notes.
Three weeks later, the IRS would start issuing paper checks, the Democratic memo noted. This process would take more time, and House Democrats say the IRS informed them that it has a capacity to issue about 5 million of these checks per week.
The IRS does not have direct deposit information for about 90 million to 110 million Americans, meaning getting checks to all of these individuals could take up to 20 weeks, or about five months, before all Americans receive this financial relief via checks. Those with lower incomes would get assistance first, the memo adds.
Mnuchin poured water on the figures, explaining that the aim was to limit the number of paper checks going out and instead get more Americans signed up for direct deposit. He noted money would go out on a rolling basis for those who supply their information to the department, including through the new portal being set up later this month.
“We don’t want to send checks in this environment,” he said. “We don’t want people to get checks. We want to put money directly into their accounts.”
Mnuchin added: “This money does people no good if it shows up in four months, and we will deliver on that promise.”