The one-time payments are part of President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package that's likely to get final approval in the House on Tuesday.
The Internal Revenue Service hasn't indicated how soon it will start to distribute the money. Analysts said the checks should appear in bank accounts via direct deposit in a couple of weeks, based on the distribution timeline from the last round of coronavirus aid payments late last year.
"My understanding is that it's going to be a very similar timeline to what we saw with the second round of payments in December," said Garrett Watson, senior policy analyst at the Tax Foundation, a Washington-based think tank.
Biden said last week that many Americans can expect to see their checks by the end of the month. White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Monday the administration is still working through the "mechanics" of distributing the checks.
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The IRS will be tasked with sending out the checks in the middle of tax season, which could slow down the distribution. But the agency's experience sending out two prior rounds of checks last year should make the process go smoothly, Watson said.
"They seem pretty well prepared as they can be, given everything on their plate," he said.
Not everyone who got a relief check last time will be eligible this round. Lawmakers changed the eligibility rules after complaints from Republicans and some moderate Democrats, who argued the money should go to those who need it most.
The legislation calls for checks of up to $1,400 to go to individuals with an adjusted gross income of $80,000 or less ($160,000 for joint filers), plus an additional $1,400 for each dependent child. The payments would start to phase out for individuals earning $75,000 and cut off completely for anyone who makes more than $80,000. For couples filing jointly, the phaseout would start for those making $150,000 and cut off at $160,000.
The new eligibility rules mean the checks would phase out more quickly than during the two previous rounds, when the cutoff was $99,000 for individuals and $198,000 for joint filers with no children.
The faster phaseout will mean that as many as 6.5 million Americans who got checks in the first two rounds would be left out this time, Watson said. Other analysts put the number of people who would be excluded even higher – as many as 8 million.
The IRS would probably use tax returns on file to calculate how much money people would get. For those who've already filed a return for 2020, the aid check would probably be based on their income from last year. Otherwise, 2019 returns would probably be used to determine the amount.
Those with direct deposit – most Americans – would get the money quickest.
Paper checks would be sent to Americans who don't have direct deposit information on file with the IRS, but those take longer to distribute.
More than 160 million payments totaling $270 billion were distributed during the first round of coronavirus relief last spring, the IRS said. More than 147 million payments totaling more than $142 billion were delivered during the second allotment that started in December. More than 100 million second-round payments were distributed via direct deposit.