Why You Might Still Be Waiting on Your Stimulus Check

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As of last week, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) had processed 159 million Economic Impact Payments, all part of the $2 trillion CARES Act. But many Americans are still waiting patiently for the stimulus check that Congress promised them in the first coronavirus relief package.

Now, the US Treasury has confirmed that “There are eligible Americans who still did not yet receive their payments, and need to take action.” Here are some reasons why your payment may not have arrived, and some actions you can take to fix it.

Are you eligible?

The first thing to check is if you are indeed eligible for a stimulus payment. You can find your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) on your most recent 1040 federal tax form. In order to be a stimulus recipient one of the following must apply to you:

  • You are a single US resident and your AGI is less than $99,000.
  • You are a head of a household (unmarried with at least one dependent) and your AGI is less than $146,500.
  • You are married and your combined AGI is less than $198,000.
  • You are a parent of a child who is 16 years of age or younger.

Are you a non-filer who hasn’t provided necessary details?

The stimulus payments are based on tax information from filing years 2018 and 2019, so if you do not usually file taxes, you’ll need to complete a non-filer form in order to receive your payment. You can do this on the IRS website using the Non-Filers tool. This page will be accessible until October 15th. It is a very short form that only takes about 5 minutes to complete. 

This option is for people who are required to file taxes, but have not. If you receive Social Security payments, disability (SSDI) benefits, survivor benefits, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Railroad Retirement benefits, or Veteran Affairs (C&P) benefits, you should receive stimulus payments automatically.

Are your bank account details correct?

If the IRS did not have access to your bank account information, or if that information was incorrect, the Revenue Service may have been unable to send you a direct deposit.

Unfortunately, if you have not yet corrected your bank account information with the IRS through the online “Get My Payment” portal, you can no longer submit your information. The IRS will be mailing a paper check to your home address, which will take longer than an electronic payment to receive.

Was USPS able to deliver your stimulus check?

If there was an issue with your address, the United States Postal Service may have been unable to deliver the check, returning it to the IRS. If this is the case, enter the “Get My Payment” portal on the IRS website and see if there is a message that reads “Needs More Information.” Such a message will allow you to add an accessible address or direct deposit information.

Was the Payment Amount Wrong?

Some filers have received their stimulus check, but have found that the amount was incorrect. For example, some people were missing their $500 dependent credit. Unfortunately, this issue won’t be fixed anytime soon. The Treasury department announced, “If you did not receive the full amount to which you are entitled, you will be able to claim the additional amount when you file your 2020 tax return.” Be sure to take note of how much you expected to receive, so that you can claim the remainder come tax season.

Could the federal government have intercepted your payment?

Although your stimulus payment cannot be garnished if you have a levy on your account due to tax debt, the federal government can intercept your payment for other reasons. Past-due child support is a predominant cause for such an interception. If your payment was intercepted for this reason, you will receive a notice from the Bureau of the Fiscal Service.

Did it get thrown away?

Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller was one of the first officials to recognize that some recipients had mistakenly thrown away their stimulus payments, wrongly assuming it was a scam or sales promotion. The government sent four million Americans a prepaid debit card loaded with the stimulus payment, but the envelope resembled the promotional spam mail that banks sometimes send prospective clients.

An authentic IRS payment will come in a plain envelope with “Money Network Cardholder Services” written as the sender. If you believe you destroyed or threw away your stimulus payment, be sure to contact the IRS.

How to contact the IRS to ask about your stimulus check

The online portal is not the most intuitive, so if you have a specific concern, consider calling the IRS and speaking to a human operator.

The IRS help number is 800-829-1040. Within two weeks of sending your payment, the IRS typically sends you a confirmation letter. The number on the bottom of that letter is 800-919-9835. 

When you call, be sure to have your most recent tax ID or IRS documents on hand. The IRS has recently added 3,500 representatives to its staff to help manage the influx in calls, but you should still prepare to be on hold for a while.

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