CARES Act 2: When could the IRS send the second stimulus check?

The second stimulus check is real? We break down possible payment schedules.

James Martin/CNET

The Senate proposal for the next stimulus package will be revealed on Monday, according to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and it will come with a second stimulus check for individuals and families. Called CARES 2, McConnell’s plan will be the much-expected counteroffer to the Heroes Act, the Democrat-led House of Representatives’ bill that passed in May and proposes $3 trillion worth of economic support for individuals and businesses struggling with a recession fueled by a continued surge in coronavirus cases.

Once the Senate Republicans present their plan, negotiations with the House will begin, to finalize the bill’s details, including who qualifies for the second paymenthow much money the next stimulus check will bring and when the IRS will send the first batch of payments. We already have an idea what that first date could be.

“The president’s preference is to make sure that we send out direct payments quickly so that in August people get more money. There is no question this worked before,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC on Thursday.

But August runs 31 day and millions of Americans are looking to that payment to cover basic needs. How soon could you expect the check to arrive? We used the Senate’s calendar and the first stimulus check schedule as a model to formulate a possible timeline. This story frequently updates to reflect the developing situation in Washington.

When is the stimulus payment “deadline”? Just over 2 weeks from now

The Senate now has 12 working days until the Aug. 7 deadline set to debate, negotiate and pass another stimulus package before the last day of the current session. 

Why Aug. 7? Because the Senate’s August recess runs from Aug. 10 through Sept. 7 (Labor Day), which means there are 32 days from the last date of the Senate session (Aug. 7) until the first day of the following session (Sept. 8). If the Senate doesn’t pass a bill by Aug. 7, it won’t pick it up until then. The September session runs through Sept. 25.

Senate timeline for making a stimulus check decision

Dates Senate action and possible check dates
July 20 to Aug. 7 In session. The Senate will not work past Aug. 7, McConnell said.
July 31 Congress would need to extend extra unemployment benefits by this date before they expire.
Aug. 10 to Sept. 7 Scheduled August recess.
Aug. 26 If Congress approves new checks by Aug. 7, this is a likely date the IRS could begin sending second stimulus checks, based on the IRS payment schedule for the first checks.
Sept. 8 to Sept. 25 In session. If the Senate doesn’t pass a bill by Aug. 7, this is the next period it will have to work on a package.
Sept. 28 to Sept. 29 Scheduled recess.
Sept. 28 to Oct. 14 If the Senate approved new checks during the session that end Sept. 25, this is a likely period the IRS could start the next round of checks.
Sept. 30 to Oct. 9 In Session. If the Senate still hasn’t passed a bill, this is its last chance before the general election on Nov. 3.
Oct. 19 to Oct. 28 If the Senate approved new checks during the session that ends Oct. 9, this is a likely period the IRS could start the next round of checks.

Congress is expected to start work on a new coronavirus stimulus bill that may put another $1,200 in your wallet.

Angela Lang/CNET

When woulds the IRS begin sending the second stimulus checks? 

The IRS could still begin sending checks in August, if a second round of stimulus checks gets the green light by the start of the month. To make an August date, some in Washington are proposing direct payments in new stimulus package could be modeled on how the CARES Act set up the payments that went into effect in March. 

“If the parameters stayed the same, we could do it really quickly,” Senator John Thune, a Republican from South Dakota, said, according to The Washington Post.

For reference, the president signed the CARES Act into law on March 27 and the first stimulus payments went out less than three weeks later, on April 15. Let’s say that a new stimulus act becomes law on Friday, Aug. 7. Following the CARES Act timeline, the first checks could go out by Aug. 26.

It’s plausible, however, that the IRS could move even faster to send out the first wave of stimulus checks, since it already has the mechanism in place from the first batch, including a tool for people to sign up for direct deposit and track their payments

Factors like how many people would qualify for a payment the second time around could play a role in slowing down or speeding up this timeline.

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What’s the last date I could get a second stimulus check?

While we know nothing official — and won’t until another rescue package is passed — we can draw on the experience of the first stimulus checks as a potential blueprint. 

The IRS will have sent about 200 million checks by the time it’s done distributing the first raft of payments. (The total US population is nearly 330 million people, according to the Census Bureau.) 

The majority of those were sent by the beginning of June, though the IRS said it will continue to disburse the final batches through the end of the year. If there are fewer people receiving a second stimulus check, it’s possible that it won’t take as long to send a second round of checks.


The US is experiencing a staggeringly high unemployment rate.

Angela Lang/CNET

What has to happen to receive a second stimulus check?

To receive a second check, the new rescue package would need to pass both the House and the Senate before receiving a signature from the president. Only then could it take effect. 

After that, the IRS now has a system in place to organize and distribute those checks. But it could still be weeks more before you receive a payment.

If you’re still waiting on the first round of coronavirus payments, you can track the status of your stimulus check, learn how to report your no-show check to the IRS and find possible reasons why your stimulus check still hasn’t arrived.

Here are even more resources about coronavirus hardship loans and unemployment insurance, what you can do if you’ve lost your job, what to know about evictions and late car payments and how to take control of your budget.

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