You may get your stimulus check sooner with direct deposit. Set up payment through IRS app - CNET

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To get your 2020 stimulus payment as quickly as possible, set up direct deposit with the IRS.

Angela Lang/CNET

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Already, the IRS has sent 122 million payments for a total of $207 billion to US residents who qualify for a stimulus check. And that includes direct deposits of up to $1,200 and paper checks mailed to those who meet the requirements for a coronavirus economic relief payment.

If you're still waiting for your stimulus check, the IRS says you have time to set up direct deposit to have your impact money transferred to your bank account. The IRS estimates it may take 20 weeks for every paper check to be mailed, according to a schedule from the US House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee in mid-April. You could receive your payment much earlier -- if you set up by Thursday of one week, you could get your payment as soon as the following week -- by setting up direct deposit, if you meet the qualifications.

We'll show you how to set up direct deposit with the IRS through its Get My Payment app.

Direct deposit is more convenient and secure than receiving a check in the mail, according to US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. And depositing a paper check means you either have to upload it to your account with your banking app or make a trip to the bank. 

Keep track of the coronavirus pandemic.

The IRS has tried to make the process of setting up direct deposit simple, using the online app called Get My Payment, which you can also use to track your IRS stimulus money. We'll tell you what personal information you'll need to have on hand to make setup go more smoothly and explain what happens if you get an error message. Unfortunately, some people are having problems tracking their payments and signing up for direct deposit.

How to set up direct deposit for your stimulus check

To get started with Get My Payment portal, you may need your 2019 tax return if you've filed, as well as your 2018 return. Because of high demand on IRS.gov, you may need to wait until it's your turn to access the tool. If you get an error message, see the next section. And the IRS said a Spanish-language version of Get My Payment is coming in a few weeks.

1. Head to the IRS' Get My Payment page and tap the blue Get My Payment button to set up direct deposit for your economic impact payment. 

2. On the next page about authorized use tap OK.

3. On the Get My Payment page, enter your Social Security number (SSN) or individual tax ID (ITIN), your date of birth, your street address and your ZIP or postal code.

If the IRS has your direct deposit information, you'll see a page giving you the status of your payment. If it doesn't and you are eligible for a check, you can enter your bank account's routing number and account number (scroll down for how to find these numbers) to have the government send your check to your bank account.

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What happens if I get an error message or the IRS doesn't tell me my payment status?

If the screen flashes "status unknown," "please try again later" or another message whose meaning is unclear, here is a list of possible explanations to help you puzzle out your specific situation. The IRS is reportedly aware of the issues, according to The Washington Post. CNET has also reached out to the IRS for more information.

What will the IRS need from me to set up direct deposit?

You'll want to have at hand your bank account's routing and account numbers. You have several ways to find this banking information.

Banking website: Your bank's website may show your routing and account numbers. For Bank of America, for example, log into your account, select the account you want to use and then tap the Information & Services tab to see the numbers you need.

Banking app: If your bank has an app, it may show you your account and routing numbers. In the Bank of America's BofA app, for example, tap the account you want to use and then scroll to the bottom of the app window to see your clearly labeled account and routing numbers.

Printed check: At the bottom of your check you most likely will see three sets of numbers: The first set of nine numbers is your routing number. The second set of 8 to 12 numbers is your account number. The third set -- which you don't use to set up direct deposit -- is the check number.

It's not too late to include your banking information with your tax returns if you haven't filed yet

The IRS said if you've not filed a tax return for 2018 or 2019 yet, you should file as soon as you can and include your direct deposit banking information on the return. Here's what to know about coronavirus and your taxes.

When will my check go out?

Millions of US residents who had set up direct deposit with the IRS have already received their stimulus checks. And those who set up direct deposit through the Get My Payment portal will receive their checks in several days, the IRS said. You can have the government send the money to other payment services, like Cash app or a PayPal account. And Secretary Mnuchin said the government mailed the first paper checks at the end of April.

While you're waiting for your check to arrive, here's how to avoid being scammed. And after you receive it, here are some ideas for how to spend your stimulus check. If you're still struggling after getting the check, here's how to get financial help to pay your bills.

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