Millions of $600 stimulus checks are going out to Americans this week as the U.S. continues to deal with the devastating coronavirus pandemic.
But if you haven’t gotten your Economic Impact Payment from the IRS yet, don’t panic. There’s probably a simple reason your second stimulus check hasn’t arrived. The hold-up might be something easy to fix, like waiting for the mail, or it might be an issue you can’t solve, like your eligibility.
Either way, knowledge is power. Here are nine possible scenarios that could explain why your stimulus check hasn’t arrived yet.
Your bank hasn’t processed it yet.
The IRS began sending out payments last week using the information the agency already had on file. Direct deposits began arriving as early as Dec. 29, though the official payment date wasn’t until Monday, Jan. 4.
What to do: Be patient. The second round of stimulus checks is going out automatically, so there’s not much action for you to take. If you’re so inclined, you can use the Get My Payment tool to track your check. If it shows money was sent but you don’t see it, the IRS recommends you “check with your bank to verify they received it.”
It went to the wrong account.
The IRS is distributing stimulus checks based on information you provided on any one of the following: your 2019 tax return, the Get My Payment page, the Non-Filers tool or from a federal agency that gives you benefits. Unfortunately, you can’t change it now.
What to do: For the first round of stimulus checks, the IRS said banks would reject deposits sent to closed accounts, and it would mail the payments instead. You can also plan to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit on your 2020 tax return. As a reminder, that’s the one you’ll file this spring.
You used a tax preparer last year.
Back in April, an estimated 21 million people who used tax prep services like TurboTax and H&R Block found themselves unable to access stimulus money because of the way those systems processed their tax refunds. Reports on social media are now indicating the same issue is happening with the second stimulus check. (The IRS did not reply to a Money request for comment by press time.)
Temporary bank accounts are likely to blame. Basically, when you filed your taxes, your refund first went to a short-term account created by the tax preparation company to have its fees taken out before the refund was passed on to you. But the IRS mistakenly tried to send your stimulus to the temporary account.
What to do: Wait and see. H&R Block tweeted Monday that it has “sent these payments on to the method you chose for Refund Transfer: direct deposit, check or Emerald Card,” adding that “the money should be there by the end of the day.” TurboTax said that “customers affected by the IRS error” should see deposits starting Friday, adding that it’s “been working tirelessly with the Treasury and IRS to get stimulus payments to our customers.”
It’s coming in the mail.
The IRS began snail-mailing out Economic Impact Payments to people without direct deposit on Dec. 30. These payments, which come in the form of a paper check or debit card, take slightly longer to work their way through the mail.
What to do: Be patient. The IRS says “the payments will conclude in January,” but the month just started. You should also watch the mail. Cards will be sent in a white envelope with the Treasury Department seal. They may also include the name MetaBank®, N.A., so don’t throw them away.
You’re not eligible because of your age.
The second stimulus check is $600 per adult or $1,200 for a married couple filing joint taxes, plus $600 per qualifying child. If you’re a dependent, you’re generally not eligible for the adult payment. Dependents 17 or older are generally not eligible for the child payment.
What to do: You’re out of luck on this one, though you may want to triple-check your eligibility. If you’re a college student who’s not a dependent, for example, you may qualify.
You’re not eligible because of your citizenship status.
Per the IRS, U.S. citizens and resident aliens generally qualify for the second stimulus check. You must have a Social Security number eligible for employment. People who use Individual Tax Identification Numbers, or ITINs, aren’t eligible.
What to do: Check the fine print to make absolutely sure you don’t qualify. A provision in the December law changed the policy around mixed-status families, making it so U.S. citizens are eligible even if they’re married or related to an undocumented immigrant. This applies retroactively to the first payment, as well.
You earn too much money.
The amount of your stimulus check is tied to your adjusted gross income, or AGI. If your AGI is $75,000 or less (or $150,000 for married couples), you’ll get the full payment. If your AGI is over that limit, you’ll get a smaller second stimulus check. The number gets reduced by 5% for every dollar you earn above the threshold. As the Tax Foundation points out, this means dependent-less Americans who make $87,000 or more (or married couples that make $174,000 or more) will receive nothing.
What to do: Again, there’s not much you can do here. Maybe make a plan to vote in any upcoming elections so you can influence who makes these policies in the future.
Your bank account is overdrawn.
The New York Times reported that several major banks, including Wells Fargo and Bank of America, have vowed to “zero out” customers’ overdrawn accounts so they can use their stimulus money. But smaller banks may not be offering the same leeway (or not offering it in such a universal, automatic way). Synovus, for example, writes on its website that “if your account is overdrawn at the time the payment posts to your account, Synovus will refund up to three days of overdraft fees. Then your overdrawn balance will automatically be deducted, as with any direct deposit.”
What to do: Contact your bank and ask what your options for relief are.
Something else, specific to your situation, is happening.
Maybe you think your second stimulus check is wrong. Or your payment went to an incorrect address. Or you’re getting an error message from the IRS website. Or there’s something else tripping you up.
What to do: Do some research, check your status in Get My Payment nightly, and avoid calling the IRS. Though it once shared a phone number for stimulus questions, the agency is now officially dodging your calls, saying “our phone assistors do not have additional information beyond what’s available here on IRS.gov.” If you’ve tried all these avenues and are sure you’re due a stimulus check but still don’t get one, remember to seek out the Recovery Rebate Credit when you do your taxes later this year.
This story has been updated to include a Jan. 8 statement from TurboTax.