Coronavirus financial resource center

IRS: You only have until May 13 to sign up for direct deposit to get your stimulus check faster

U.S. Treasury refund check.
Thomas Winz/Getty

If you're still waiting on an economic impact payment, also known as a stimulus check, and you'd prefer to receive the money sooner by way of direct deposit, you only have until noon on Wednesday, May 13, to give the government your banking information, the Internal Revenue Service announced Friday. Otherwise, you may need to wait weeks, or perhaps months, for your check to arrive in the mail.

Americans who qualify for a one-time payment of up to $1,200 per adult and $500 per dependent child can add their bank details on the IRS' Get My Payment site. To receive your payment via direct deposit, you'll need to provide the IRS with your bank account and routing number.

If you've given the government that information already by way of recent tax returns, you should be all set. If not, "it is likely in your best interest to make sure the IRS has your proper bank information as soon as possible," says Neal Stern, member of the American Institute of CPAs' National CPA Financial Literacy Commission.

'Direct deposit payments generally arrive faster'

Almost 130 million stimulus payments have gone out so far, the Treasury Department announced Friday. About 110 million of those payments have been made via direct deposit.

In total, the government expects to send more than 150 million payments to help Americans cope with the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Treasury Department. 

Based on government data on the status of stimulus payouts, "direct deposit payments generally arrive sooner than those sent via postal mail," says Stern. 

Since the IRS just announced the direct deposit submission deadline Friday, Wednesday's deadline doesn't give Americans much time to act, says Janet Holtzblatt, senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center: "They are springing a deadline on taxpayers without much advance notice." 

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Paper checks may arrive sooner than expected, too

"For those qualified taxpayers who don't submit their bank deposit details, they can expect their check to come in the mail," says Stern. 

If that's you, the IRS says you can expect your paper check to come in late May and into June, according to Holtzblatt. That's good news: "The IRS had earlier warned Congress that paper checks would take as long as five months to mail out."

The Get My Payment tool can also be used to check on the status of your stimulus check. Keep in mind, though, that the IRS says it only updates that information once per day.

"If you are in a position where your current income isn't enough to pay your monthly bills, you may want to take the time to submit your information now to help speed up the process. The sooner you can get these funds to help weather this unprecedented economic shutdown, the better," says Stern. 

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