WATERTOWN — Wired or mailed, federal stimulus checks are again being received across the country, including in the north country, nearly 10 months after the global COVID-19 pandemic first escalated and a new economic crisis infiltrated local communities.
Following the disbursement of maximum $1,200-per-person checks in April as part of the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act — dubbed the CARES Act — $600 checks for eligible Americans were approved with last month’s passage of a second relief package — the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021, totaling roughly $908 billion.
The Internal Revenue Service and U.S. Department of the Treasury began issuing Economic Impact Payments, or stimulus payments, nationwide by direct deposit Dec. 29, and paper checks by mail Dec. 30. Notices of funds pending may have appeared on mobile or online banking platforms last week and over the holiday weekend before the official Monday payment date, according to the IRS.
An initial wave of disbursement is expected to continue through at least Jan. 15, the preliminary payout deadline written into the new stimulus legislation, which prioritizes those with direct deposit information already on file with the IRS.
Those who do not receive expected checks by Jan. 15 will need to claim the funds this tax season when filing 2020 taxes. Claims for all or part of an expected Economic Impact Payment should be filed through the IRS’ Recovery Rebate Credit program — delays are anticipated.
Vehicles lined the drive-thru lanes of both Community Bank locations in Watertown — 1125 Arsenal St., and 216 Washington St. — and overflowed into the parking lots mid-afternoon Monday. As the latest wave of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to break case records for the region, most Community Bank branches have closed lobbies and in-person services are offered by appointment only.
Though not necessarily solely attributable to stimulus deposits, Monday’s mid-day rush at banks in Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties was noticeably busier than most weekdays.
Of nine people in the parking lot or waiting in line at about 2 p.m. outside SeaComm Federal Credit Union in Potsdam, 6 Sisson St., eight said they had not yet received an expected stimulus check. An NBT Bank user waiting for a friend in the SeaComm parking lot said his check had already been deposited to his account Monday.
A Potsdam woman warming up in her vehicle said she called the SeaComm customer service line Monday to inquire about her expected payment, but the line was busy and remained busy all morning. She and her husband said they plan to spend their stimulus dollars on 2020 taxes. Others said they plan to pay bills or deposit their checks into savings accounts.
Kaylie E. DeShane, of Norwood, said she received her payment by direct deposit Monday. Mrs. DeShane said her family of seven — husband Brandon, two primary school children and 1-year-old triplets — needed more living space this year and have started renovating their garage into a family room. Stimulus funds, she said, are contributing to that ongoing project.
Generally, according to the IRS, eligible U.S. residents may receive up to $600 or $1,200 for married couples filing taxes jointly in 2019. If adjusted gross incomes for 2019 exceed $75,000 for individuals or $150,000 for joint filers, Economic Impact Payments will be reduced.
The possibility of increasing the $600 limit to $2,000, and the $1,200 limit to $4,000 — pushed by House Democrats, President Donald J. Trump and a handful of Republicans last month — diminished in the Senate last week.
President-elect Joseph R. Biden during a December news conference in Delaware, pledged to include a third round of stimulus payments in the next COVID-19 relief package, describing this round of checks as a “down payment” for addressing the multiple crises exacerbated by the ongoing pandemic. He declined to specify a stimulus check limit for a potential third round.
Launched by the IRS this spring after the passage of the CARES Act, the online Get My Payment tool was re-launched this week and displays the status of federal stimulus payouts. Citing high call volumes, the IRS and bank websites for local branches recommend using the tool for status concerns.
To read the full list of eligibility requirements under the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021, or to check the status of your stimulus check, visit www.irs.gov.