RED WING — Though prospects of a Senate vote on more robust stimulus checks appeared grim on New Year’s Day, the approved pandemic relief payments have started to enter Americans' bank accounts.

Direct deposits started Dec. 29, and will continue into next week, according to the U.S. Treasury Department and IRS. Mailing of paper checks started Dec. 30.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in a news release called the payments “integral” to the federal government’s response to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, but Democratic and Republican lawmakers, as well as President Donald Trump, have called to increase the amount from $600 to $2,000 for individuals.

The Republican Eagle asked Red Wing residents about their plans for the money.

Angel Schoppers said her top priorities are new tires for the family vehicle and eyeglasses for her husband.

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“What's left over will be used for educational and physical activities for our young daughters,” she wrote in an email.

Retiree Roy Hakala, who said his income was unaffected by the pandemic, said he and wife will each give half of their stimulus to the local food shelf and the other half to the Humane Society.

The $600 pandemic stimulus checks are on their way. Will the payments help?

Thank you for voting!

  • Definitely -- it's been a rough year and I can use the money.

    45%

  • Not needed. My income wasn't affected.

    45%

  • Too little, too late.

    10%

Where’s my payment?

Not everyone qualifies for an Economic Impact Payment. According to the Treasury Department, most people with an adjusted gross income for 2019 of up to $75,000 for individuals and up to $150,000 for married couples filing joint returns and surviving spouses should get the full amount — that’s $600 for individuals, $1,200 for married couples and up to $600 for each qualifying child. The payment amount drops for earners above those income thresholds.

Unlike unemployment benefits, the stimulus checks are not considered taxable income.

The IRS has more information and an FAQ at https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/economic-impact-payments.

The service was temporarily suspended as of Friday, Jan. 1, but the IRS says it will provide status updates about payments at https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/get-my-payment.