At the end of December, the Internal Revenue Service began sending out a second round of stimulus checks to qualifying Americans. Understandably, many people are anxiously wondering when they’ll receive their payments, especially considering that the first pass was not a speedy process.
If you’re wondering where your money is and when you’ll get it, here’s what you need to know.
Double-Check That You Qualify For A Check
If you received a $1,200 stimulus check earlier this year, you may assume that you’re getting a second payment (worth $600 this time) from Uncle Sam. That’s probably true, except for certain situations.
Stimulus payment eligibility has been based on income in both instances. However, the income caps on the second round of checks are a bit less generous.
In the first round of payments, you received a check if your annual adjusted gross income was below $99,000 (or $198,000 if married and filing jointly). Payments were phased out between $75,000 and $99,000 for single taxpayers, or $150,000 and $198,000 for couples filing jointly.
This time around, those payments are phased out between $75,000 and $87,000 for single filers, or $150,000 and $174,000 for joint filers. That means some people with incomes just under the original threshold won’t qualify for a payment this time.
Like last time, you also won’t qualify if you can be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return, are a non-resident foreigner or don’t have a valid Social Security number. The good news is that a couple of the qualification requirements were changed with the latest stimulus package: If you’re married to a noncitizen without a Social Security number with whom you file tax returns jointly, or are currently incarcerated, you will receive a payment.
You can check your eligibility and the status of both your first and second payment by using the Internal Revenue Service’s Get My Payment tool. Note that you need to enter your address exactly as it’s listed on your tax return for the tool to work. You also need to enter the exact refund amount or taxes due from your most recent tax return.
If Get My Payment says your status is not available, it may be because you don’t qualify for a payment.
The IRS Is Still Sending Out The Checks
When the first relief payments started going out in April, Americans who had a valid bank account on file with the IRS received a direct deposit right away. But snags in the system led to delays for others.
Though there is no exact timeline, the IRS expects the process to go much quicker now that most of those initial problems have been worked out. Payments started being sent on Dec. 29 and will continue being paid out over the coming weeks.
If you have current bank account information on file with the IRS, you should receive your payment via direct deposit by early January. If the IRS doesn’t have your bank account information (for instance, you aren’t required to file taxes), you will receive a paper check in the mail. In some cases, you may be mailed a debit card.
There may also be some situations in which you were eligible to receive a stimulus check but didn’t get one. For example, you might not have qualified based on your 2019 tax information but do qualify based on changes to your income or family status in 2020. If that’s the case, you can claim the Recovery Rebate Credit when you file taxes for 2020 this year.
How To Contact The IRS About A Missing Payment
If the Get My Payment tool indicates that your payment was issued, but you haven’t received it (or are worried it was stolen or accidentally thrown away), you may need to put a trace on it, according to the IRS. Before you do, however, wait at least five days after the direct deposit date indicated by Get My Payment, since it may take some time for your bank to make the deposit available to you. If you’re getting a paper check, wait at least four weeks from the mail date. Wait six weeks if you have a forwarding address on file with your local post office and nine weeks if you have a foreign address.
To perform a trace, you first need to receive a Notice 1444 ― that’s a letter detailing the method and timing of your payment from the government ― or obtain a payment date from the Get My Payment tool. Then, call the IRS at 800-829-1954 to use the automated system or to speak with an agent. Note that the IRS is experiencing extremely high call volumes, so you may have to wait a long time to speak with someone in person.
If you’re married and filed your tax return jointly, you won’t be able to set up a trace via the automated system. Instead, submit a Form 3911 to get the process started for a replacement check. Both spouses need to sign the form.
If your original check wasn’t cashed, you’ll receive a replacement check once the original is canceled. If you cash the new check and later find the original, you must return the original immediately.
If your original check was cashed (presumably by somebody else), the Treasury Department’s Bureau of the Fiscal Service will provide you with a claim package that you need to complete. The bureau will then review your claim and determine whether they can issue you a replacement check. That process can take up to six weeks to complete.
Note that the Get My Payment tool can’t be used to initiate a trace ― you must follow the steps outlined above.