May 28, 2020

10 reasons why your stimulus check hasn’t arrived


Dead ends, form issues, holdups:

Do you meet the requirements for a stimulus payment, but you’re still waiting on your check from the IRS? One of these reasons could explain why it hasn’t shown up.

For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO website.

By now, the IRS has sent coronavirus stimulus checks to over 152 million Americans. If you’re not in that group, you may be hunting for the reason why yours feels so late. It might not be. Part of a larger economic package intended to help blunt the pandemic’s worsening economic effects, the relief money is being processed by the IRS on a schedule, which may explain why yours hasn’t arrived. We’ve found other reasons, however, that could explain the delay with your payment. 

A little more information about the relief checks before we begin. Your stimulus money could arrive through direct deposit to your bank account, if you set that up before the May 13 deadline. At this point, however, it’s more likely you’ll find it in the mail, as either a paper check or a prepaid debit card. It’ll be your money to spend, free and clear. (Meanwhile, a bill for a second round of stimulus checks for up to $1,200 is in its first stages of negotiation, though that doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed.)

You won’t get a stimulus check if you aren’t eligible

Check this first. You’re eligible to receive a stimulus payment if you:

  • Are a single US resident and have an adjusted gross income less than $99,000.
  • File as the head of a household and earn under $146,500.
  • File jointly without children and earn less than $198,000.
  • Are the parent of child aged 16 or younger.

The IRS has scheduled your payment for later in the year

While the IRS has sent out 152 million payments as of May 22, it still has more to go. In April, the IRS estimated (PDF) it could take up to 20 weeks to send every payment out and it is prioritizing the payment schedule by sending checks to those with lowest incomes first. Depending on your adjusted gross income, you may have weeks and possibly several months to wait, according to the IRS plan.

The IRS started processing your paper check before you submitted your direct deposit information

If the IRS was already preparing to mail your paper check when you provided your banking information online, you’ll still receive your check in the mail. The IRS said it can typically take up to 14 days to receive the payment in this situation.

You’ll want to check your inbox.Sarah Tew/CNET

Your bank had trouble processing the direct deposit

If your bank couldn’t process the electronic money transfer from the IRS, the payment was returned and the IRS is now mailing your check to the most current address it has on file, either from a 2019 or 2018 tax return or one from the Postal Service.

The IRS was waiting for your banking info before sending your check

The IRS made a big push to get everyone who was eligible for a check signed up for direct deposit by May 13. The benefit of direct deposit, the IRS said, was you’d get your check quicker than through the mail. Now that the deadline is passed, the IRS said it will start sending paper checks and debit cards to those it doesn’t have banking information for, from the end of May through June.

The banking information the IRS has for you is out of date or no longer valid

The IRS said it’s using banking information from your 2018 or 2019 tax return to send your payment. Some tax preparers, however, set up temporary accounts for their clients to receive their returns, such as to a prepaid debit card. If this is the information the IRS has for you, the agency said the payment will be returned and reprocessed. 

If for whatever reason, the banking information the IRS has for you is not valid, the agency says it will mail you your check. The IRS said to check its Get My Payment tool for updates.

You owe child support

If you are past-due on child support, the IRS said your payment may be reduced or completely deducted. If that happens, the Bureau of the Fiscal Service will send you a notice.

A claimed dependent is not eligible for a payment

Parents who are not married to each other and do not file a joint return cannot both claim a qualifying child as a dependent. The parent who claimed their child on their 2019 return may receive the payment. Likewise, dependent college students do not qualify for a payment.

You may have been scammed

The FBI warns that scammers are looking to steal your stimulus check. We have a guide for how to guard against these attacks. If you receive a letter from the IRS notifying you that the agency has already sent your money — with details on whether it came through the mail or straight to your bank — but you didn’t get the payment, the letter includes information on how to report that the money didn’t arrive.

You need to file a nonfilers form

If you are eligible for a payment but because of low income didn’t need to file a tax return for 2018 or 2019, you may need to use the IRS’ nonfilers tool to give the agency your information. If you think that is you, head to the IRS’ website, check the requirements and then provide some basic information to get your stimulus check.

To assist you with potential problems regarding your payment, the IRS added 3,500 telephone representatives to help navigate common issues. The representatives won’t be able to help with specific problems with your payment, however.

As you try to discover the status of your stimulus check, here’s what we know about a second round of stimulus checks, how best to use your stimulus check and how to avoid being scammed.

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