Many Americans may have been buoyed by President-elect Joe Biden’s announcement that he plans to send additional $1,400 stimulus checks as part of his American Rescue Plan.
But millions of Americans still haven’t received their $600 second stimulus checks—and the deadline to distribute them is Jan. 15.
The IRS and Treasury Department moved fast to send out the second stimulus payments after President Donald Trump signed the second Covid relief bill on Dec. 27. But the rush also caused glitches with direct deposits. It further inundated an already overwhelmed United State Postal System (USPS). And it may result in more Americans having to wait until tax filing time to claim their stimulus payment.
Why Hasn’t My Stimulus Payment Arrived Yet?
Here are 7 reasons you may still be waiting.
1. You Changed Banks Since Your 2019 Tax Filing
Within the 100 million direct deposits already submitted are countless Americans who have closed or changed banks since they last filed their taxes. In addition to the normal bank shopping tendencies, people may have closed accounts due to a divorce or to avoid fees. This issue may be compounded by the delayed tax filing date for 2019 taxes. If you filed your taxes on or near the July 15 deadline, the IRS may not have processed your 2019 tax return and may only have your 2018 bank account information on file.
If the second stimulus payment was sent to a closed or inactive bank account, by law the financial institution must return that payment to the government. The bank cannot hold and reissue the payment to you if the account is not active, even if you have other active accounts at the institution. Due to the tight timeline, the IRS will not reissue direct deposits returned due to closed accounts. If that’s your situation, you can file for the Recovery Rebate Credit on your taxes.
2. You Used Online Tax Software to File Your Taxes
Tax preparers such as H&R Block, Intuit’s TurboTax, and Jackson Hewitt offer refund loans and other banking products. In order to provide these services, the tax preparer creates a temporary account for the IRS to deposit an anticipated refund. These accounts allow the tax filer to access their refund, often before the IRS has sent it, and the tax preparer to withdraw any fees for filing.
When the second stimulus checks were directly deposited, the payments went to the account on file with the IRS—and for many Americans, the account on file was one of these accounts set up by the tax preparation companies. The IRS stated on Jan. 8 that they had identified issues with these temporary accounts. Tax preparers were asked to redirect stimulus checks to the correct taxpayer account when possible.
In some cases tax preparers were able to deliver stimulus payments sent to these temporary accounts. However, there were enough tax preparation companies who could not process these payments that, as of January 11, the IRS said it will reissue certain direct deposits sent to temporary accounts. The government stated it will reissue these payments later this month.
The payment will come directly from the government and the IRS states that your tax preparer is not in possession of these funds. Additionally, while you may have received a direct deposit in round one, these reissued payments may now come as a paper check or a direct deposit.
3. Your Account Number is Wrong
If the Get My Payment tool indicates that your stimulus check was deposited into an account you do not recognize, the IRS states this is not necessarily a sign of fraud. The information reported on the Get My Payment tool may not indicate accurate account numbers or deposit dates. These discrepancies are most likely a result of the temporary accounts from tax preparers. Work is being done to redirect your payment to the proper account. You should monitor your bank account for the payment to populate over the next several days.
4. Your First Payment Was Direct Deposit, But Round 2 Will Be a Check
In December, the IRS stated that if your first payment arrived as a direct deposit, your second payment would come in the same manner. However, even if the IRS has a current bank account on file for you, you may not receive your stimulus payment as a direct deposit. Due to the pressure of the upcoming tax season, if the direct deposit returned an error of any kind, your stimulus payment was automatically sent as a check.
These changes were made to ensure as many payments were received as possible as if a bank needed to return the funds to the IRS, there wouldn’t be sufficient time to reissue the payment before Jan. 15. In these instances, a check was issued immediately to avoid delays until the 2020 tax filing season.
5. USPS Delivery Delays
On the heels of the October ballot delivery, November voting and the holiday rush, theUSPS is now charged with delivering millions of stimulus payments—and it’s experiencing unprecedented backlogs, which are slowing down the mail system.
Based on the June 2020 report from the Ways and Means Committee, nearly 35 million checks and 3.7 million debit cards were delivered for the first round of payments. Based on the estimated number of adults who received first round payments, the USPS is likely to deliver 59 million debit cards and paper checks for the second round.
In April 2020, the USPS reported that they spent 8 weeks processing and delivering nearly 60 million stimulus payments. It also had to process and deliver 81 million eligibility notices for individuals who received payments by direct deposit. For this second round, all of the stimulus payments must be mailed within 13 business days.
It is noteworthy that there are two postal holidays during the delivery period. Both New Year’s Day and Martin Luther King Day, commemorated on January 18, may create further delays in stimulus delivery.
6. You May Have Already Received It But You Didn’t Recognize The Envelope—Or You Threw It Out
Once you know your stimulus was mailed, make sure to go through your mail carefully ensuring your payment does not get overlooked.
The IRS provides a visual of what your debit card and envelope look like, so it is not mistaken for a credit card offer or other junk mail. The card is mailed from Money Network Cardholders and the envelope states ”Not a bill or an advertisement. Important information about your Economic Impact Payment.” The issuing bank, MetaBank, N.A., is printed on the back of the card.
Since Get My Payment does not indicate if you will receive a card or a check, you may wonder how you would know you received it. In the first round, card recipients who did not activate their EIP debit card received notice that their card was inactive. If your EIP debit card was lost or destroyed you can request a free replacement card through the MetaBank Customer Service.
To request a new card, call 800-240-8100 and provide the last six digits of the Social Security number of the person listed first on your tax return.
Although the IRS does not specify what the envelope for the paper check looks like, opening every piece of mail will protect against overlooking your check. Unfortunately, if your check is not received it cannot be reissued after the Jan. 15 deadline. If you do not receive your check, plan to file for the Rebate Recovery Credit when you file your taxes in 2021.
Make sure to check your mail regularly, especially if it is not in a secured location. For added protection, the USPS offers Informed Delivery. This free service allows you to get a preview of your mail arriving that day.
7. You Moved To A New Address
If you moved, but your bank account remained the same, you should receive your payment if it is issued by direct deposit.
Unfortunately, Get My Payment does not allow you to change your address. While the IRS provides direction to update your address, this method is not quick enough to ensure you receive your payment. If you have moved, make sure that the USPS is forwarding your mail to the correct location. If your payment is returned to the IRS, your Get My Payment status will be updated to “Needs More Information.” However, due to the Jan. 15 deadline for payments, if your payment was returned, you will need to file a Recovery Rebate Credit.
How Many Payments Have Been Sent?
The IRS already distributed over 100 million payments by direct deposit. On Jan. 8, the IRS announced that it would start sending 8 million debit cards along with an unspecified number of paper checks. If the first round of stimulus payment is an indicator, there could be as many as 51 million mailed stimulus payments to come.
What If Your Payment Does Not Arrive?
If your stimulus payment was not sent by January 15, the Get My Payment tool will list your status as “Not Available”. If you are eligible for a stimulus payment, you will need to file for the Recovery Rebate Credit when you submit your 2020 taxes. You will also file for the rebate if you did not receive your payment or only received a portion of your eligible stimulus check.
If your payment is returned to the IRS, you will also need to file the Recovery Rebate Credit on your 2020 taxes.
While the tax forms may be updated before you file your 2020 taxes next year, you will complete Form 1040 or 1040-SR. For additional information about what you need to file, you can create an account at IRS.gov/account to access tools through Secure Access.
You also want to watch for your Notice 1444. This is a tax document detailing any payment you received in 2020. Hold on to this document. You will need to reference it when you file for your Recovery Rebate Credit. The IRS indicates it should be retained even if you received your full stimulus payment.