The Internal Revenue Service is already processing 60 million stimulus checks, which have begun arriving in taxpayers' bank accounts, according to a blog post by the GOP members of the House Ways and Means Committee. Many Americans have already received their money, or will this week, depending on how quickly their banks process direct deposits.

The money is part of the $2 trillion stimulus package passed by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump as a response to the economic upheaval created by the Covid-19 pandemic. These payments to individuals are not based on hardship or need, and are separate from the Paycheck Protection Program loans and special unemployment insurance the federal government has also made available to help small businesses and independent contractors. Most taxpayers don't need to do anything to receive these funds.

The payments are $1,200 for individuals with adjusted gross annual income of up to $75,000 a year and $2,400 for jointly filing couples with income of up to $150,000 a year. Individuals and couples with higher incomes will see smaller payments, and they phase out completely at an income of $99,000 for individuals and $198,000 for a couple filing jointly. Payments are calculated based on your 2019 tax returns, if you've already filed them, or 2018 if you haven't. (The federal government and most states have extended the deadline for filing tax returns and paying 2019 taxes, and April 15 estimated taxes, until July 15.)

Lowest income first.

This first wave of payments goes to taxpayers who have already provided the IRS with their bank account information for the purpose of receiving tax refunds, according to the blog post. "The checks will be issued in reverse 'adjusted gross income' order -- starting with people with the lowest income first." People who receive Social Security payments by direct deposit will have their payments automatically deposited into those same accounts.

What if the IRS doesn't have your bank account information, because you, like many business owners, don't usually receive a tax refund? The IRS will begin mailing paper checks the week of April 20, according to the press release but... it will take a while to get them all in the mail. The press release explains the problem. "The agency responsible for printing paper checks can only send out five million per week, and estimates show that 150-170 million taxpayers may be eligible." If you do the math, you'll see that even after the 60 million payments currently being direct deposited, it could take four months or more for all the checks to be mailed.

What if you want to get yours sooner? Beginning Friday, the IRS will offer an online portal that will let you provide them with bank information for the purpose of receiving a stimulus payment, and will also let you track the status of your payment. That same site already allows people who aren't required to file a tax return, such as low-income people, to enter bank information so as to receive their payments. However, non-filers with taxable income will have to file a 2019 return in order to get a payment.