The government is issuing stimulus checks to millions of eligible Americans, which means you could be up to $1,200 richer …as long as the money ends up in the right place.
How much you get in your stimulus payment depends on your income level and the number of dependents you claimed on your 2019 tax return (or on your 2018 tax return if you have yet to file this year). And where the money goes depends on which bank account the IRS has on file for you. If you got a tax refund on your most recent return and requested a direct deposit, your stimulus check will go to whatever banking account is listed.
That could be cause for concern if the bank account no longer exists or isn’t the one you’d prefer to use.
The first thing you should do is head to the Internal Revenue Service’s new Get My Payment app and confirm the destination of your payment. If you don’t like what you see, check on the delivery status within that same app.
If you’ve already filed a 2019 tax return and the IRS has a bank account on file for you, it’s too late to make any changes using the Get My Payment app. The IRS says, “To help protect against potential fraud, the tool also does not allow people to change direct deposit bank account information already on file with the IRS.”
On the other hand, if the payment hasn’t been sent out yet and you haven’t filed your 2019 tax return yet, there might still time. The IRS estimates that it will send out a total of 150 million stimulus payments, and as of April 17, 88 million payments had already been sent. If you haven’t gotten your money, you may want to file your return as soon as possible, and provide the IRS with your updated direct deposit information. Keep a couple of things in mind:
- If you owe your bank some money, your stimulus check is fair game for the bank to dip into once it’s deposited.
- Whatever banking information the agency has will trump your mailing address — you can’t request to have it sent in the mail if there’s already a bank account on file.
Here’s what to know if the Get My Payment app shows that your payment has already been processed:
When a Stimulus Check Goes to the ‘Wrong’ Bank Account
Say your account on file with the IRS is still active, but it’s not your preferred account because you owe fees or it’s so old that you forgot your password. Unfortunately there’s little you can do if the IRS has already begun processing your stimulus payment.
“If it goes to an account which is still active, that’s where it’s going to go and it’s going to be your responsibility to figure out what to do,” Howard Gleckman, a senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center told MONEY.
When it comes to accounts with debt, some banks are being more lenient than others, as outlined by the Prospect: JPMorgan Chase, for example, said they’re willing to send the check back to the government. Some states have put laws in place preventing banks from withdrawing from your stimulus checks, so look up your state’s stance on “garnishment orders.”
If the stimulus payment goes to an account you can’t access for some reason, your best bet is to try and contact the bank to recover your password and get access to the money.
When a Stimulus Check Goes to a Closed Bank Account
If, on the other hand, the account was closed, you have little reason to worry — though your payment will be delayed. According to the Internal Revenue Service, if a stimulus payment goes to an account that is closed, the bank will reject the money. Then, the Internal Revenue Service will look at the mailing address it has on file so the check can be sent by mail instead.
The agency is also required to send you a letter in the mail within 15 days, providing “information on how the Payment was made and how to report any failure to receive the Payment.”
But it would be worth your time to contact your bank and ensure that the check was in fact rejected. Then, go back into the Get My Payment portal to make sure your mailing address is up to date.