INDIANAPOLIS — The IRS says it has already distributed more than $270 billion as part of the second round of Economic Impact Payments.
But lots of people are still waiting for their stimulus. In fact, the most popular question (by far) for the 13News VERIFY Team right now is from viewers who want to know why they have not yet received their payment.
Our VERIFY reports usually provide information to help you determine whether media reports, social media posts and water cooler rumors that you are seeing and hearing are true, false or somewhere in between.
But in light of all of the stimulus-related questions in our VERIFY in-box, we want to address some of the stimulus-related questions and situations we have received from our viewers.
Please note: 13News cannot tell you definitively whether you will receive a stimulus payment because we do not know your specific situation and whether the U.S. Treasury and/or U.S. Postal Service encountered errors in issuing your individual payment. (So please do not email 13News VERIFY asking us to track your stimulus payment for you and do not send us your Social Security number.)
The information below comes directly from IRS.gov websites and the agency’s Economic Impact Payment information pages, and it represents the most current information available as of the publication date.
What are Economic Impact Payments?
In late December 2020, the Internal Revenue Service and U.S. Treasury Department announced they began delivering a second round of stimulus payments (called Economic Impact Payments) as part of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021. Most payments have been delivered in January by direct deposit, or by check or debit card delivered by the U.S. Postal Service.
According to its announcement, “The IRS emphasizes that there is no action required by eligible individuals to receive this second payment. Some Americans may see the direct deposit payments as pending or as provisional payments in their accounts before the official payment date of Jan. 4, 2021. The IRS reminds taxpayers that the payments are automatic, and they should not contact their financial institutions or the IRS with payment timing questions.”
Who is eligible and how much will you get?
According to the IRS: “Generally, U.S. citizens and resident aliens who are not eligible to be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s income tax return are eligible for this second payment. Eligible individuals will automatically receive an Economic Impact Payment of up to $600 for individuals or $1,200 for married couples and up to $600 for each qualifying child. Generally, if you have adjusted gross income for 2019 up to $75,000 for individuals and up to $150,000 for married couples filing joint returns and surviving spouses, you will receive the full amount of the second payment. For filers with income above those amounts, the payment amount is reduced.”
How do you know if you qualify and if your payment has been sent?
The IRS allows you to check the status of your payment by using its online Get My Payment tool. For eligible stimulus payment recipients, it will show how much you’re getting, how you’re getting it (mail or direct deposit) and when it was sent to you.
How will the IRS know where to send your payment? What if you changed bank accounts?
The IRS says it will use the data already in its systems to send the new payments. The IRS says, “Taxpayers with direct deposit information on file will receive the payment that way. For those without current direct deposit information on file, they will receive the payment as a check or debit card in the mail. For those eligible but who don’t receive the payment for any reason, it can be claimed by filing a 2020 tax return in 2021. Remember, the Economic Impact Payments are an advance payment of what will be called the Recovery Rebate Credit on the 2020 Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR.”
Will you get a paper check or a debit card?
If you are eligible for the second round of stimulus payments and you did not get a direct deposit by early January, chances are your payment was supposed to arrive by either a paper check or a debit card. If you got a paper check for your first stimulus payment last year, you might still get a debit card this time. And some people who got a debit card last time may receive a check now.
“IRS and Treasury urge eligible people who don’t receive a direct deposit to watch their mail carefully during this period for a check or an Economic Impact Payment card, which is sponsored by the Treasury Department’s Bureau of the Fiscal Service and is issued by Treasury’s financial agent, MetaBank®, N.A,” the IRS explained. “The Economic Impact Payment Card will be sent in a white envelope that prominently displays the U.S. Department of the Treasury seal. It has the Visa name on the front of the Card and the issuing bank, MetaBank®, N.A. on the back of the card. Information included with the card will explain that this is your Economic Impact Payment.”
More information about the debit cards is available at EIPcard.com.
The IRS “Get My Payment” tool says your check was mailed or deposited but you didn’t get it. So now what?
Many 13News viewers say the IRS portal indicates their check was mailed on Jan. 6, yet they have not yet seen a payment.
We can verify your stimulus money might still be on the way. The IRS’s website says if the Get My Payment (GMP) tool shows your payment was mailed, it may take up to three to four weeks for you to receive it. The agency isn’t saying WHY it could take that long, but it advises to watch your mail carefully for a check or a debit card.
According to IRS.gov, if you checked GMP on or after Jan. 5 and:
- GMP reflects a direct deposit date and partial account information, then your payment is deposited there.
- GMP reflects a date your payment was mailed; it may take up to three to four weeks for you to receive the payment. Watch your mail carefully for a check or an EIP debit card. (See the IRS FAQ for EIP Card.)
See below for more information on what to do if you don’t get your payment soon.
What if the IRS deposited your money into the wrong bank account or a closed bank account?
Other 13News viewers say the "Get My Payment" portal shows the IRS tried to deposit their money into the wrong account or an account that was closed.
The IRS advises, “If you don’t recognize the bank account number displayed in the Get My Payment tool it does not mean your deposit was made to the wrong account that there is a fraud. If you do not recognize the account number, it may be an issue related to how information is displayed in the tool tied to temporary accounts used for refund loans/banking products. You do not need to complete Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit.”
At the same time, the IRS has acknowledged it improperly sent millions of EIP stimulus deposits to the wrong bank accounts that were set up through TurboTax, Jackson Hewitt and H&R Block.
Earlier this month, the agency said “the IRS and tax industry partners are taking steps to redirect stimulus payments to the correct account for those affected.” The IRS also advised, “If Get My Payment shows bank account information you don’t recognize, watch your bank account and mail for a payment. We’re automatically reissuing stimulus payments as a direct deposit or as a mailed check or debit card.”
It’s not clear how long it will take to redirect millions of stimulus payments, but the IRS and private tax services suggested the error would be corrected quickly, so most of the impacted payments should have been deposited into the correct bank accounts by now.
The IRS also says taxpayers who did not get a direct deposit because IRS records show their bank account is closed should expect a payment issued by mail.
When you check on your stimulus payment, the IRS portal shows an error or “status not available” message
Some 13News viewers are frustrated because the IRS Get My Payment portal won’t give them much information at all. It simply shows “Error” or says the status of their EIP is “not available.”
An error message could mean the information you’re entering into the portal doesn’t match what the IRS has on file.
If you see a message that says “Payment Status #2 – Not Available,” the IRS says you will NOT receive a stimulus check automatically and you’ll have to request a stimulus credit instead.
What does that mean? Keep reading…
How to get your stimulus payment if it does not arrive soon
Under the second stimulus package approved by Congress, the Treasury Department was required to direct deposit or mail stimulus payments by Jan. 15. So if your payment doesn’t show up soon, it probably isn’t going to. At that point, your only recourse will be getting your stimulus money by filing for a Recovery Rebate Credit on your 2020 tax return.
Your stimulus payment is considered an advance payment of the Recovery Rebate Credit on the 2020 Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR. If you don’t get your payment now, you can still get it at tax time by filling in the correct information on your tax return.
That will be a hassle for those who do not usually file a tax return, but you must file Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit even if you are normally not required to file a tax return.
Anyone with income of $72,000 or less can file their Federal tax return electronically for free through the IRS Free File Program.
One other option: You can ask the IRS to track down your stimulus payment
If you think the IRS did send you a stimulus payment and they money didn’t show up, there is one other option. You can ask the IRS to conduct a payment trace to see if it can track down your payment. It’s a last resort, and the IRS has lots of “read this before you ask for a Payment Trace” information to pass along. The IRS says:
If Get My Payment or your Notice 1444 or 1444-B shows your payment was issued as a direct deposit more than five days after the payment date, your first step is to check with your bank and make sure they didn’t receive a deposit. Do not check with your bank prior to five days because they may not have any information.
You should only request a payment trace to track your payment if you received Notice 1444 or Notice 1444-B or if "Get My Payment" shows your payment was issued and you have not received it within the timeframes below. IRS assistors cannot initiate a payment trace unless it has been:
- 5 days since the deposit date and the bank says it hasn’t received the payment
- 4 weeks since the payment was mailed by check to a standard address for the first EIP; after February 24, 2021 for the second EIP
- 6 weeks since the payment was mailed, and you have a forwarding address on file with the local post office for the first EIP; March 10, 2021 for the second EIP
- 9 weeks since the payment was mailed, and you have a foreign address for the first EIP; March 31, 2021 for the second EIP
To start a payment trace, you can call the IRS at 800-919-9835, or you can mail or fax a completed Form 3911, Taxpayer Statement Regarding Refund PDF.
The IRS says you will generally receive a response six weeks after the agency receives your request for a payment trace, but there may be delays due to limited staffing.
This link shows more information about requesting a stimulus payment trace, where you can mail or fax the trace request form (based on where you live), and how to complete a Form 3911.