While Americans can expect smaller checks than they received last spring, this round still promises $600 for each adult and eligible dependent child. If you find yourself waiting patiently (or not so patiently), here are six likely reasons why you haven’t seen a skin or hair off your check yet.
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1. It’s Not Issued
It’s only January 8. The $900 billion relief bill passed last month gives the Treasury Department until January 15 to hand out those checks. That can be cold comfort when you’re counting on incentive money to buy groceries or pay rent and your emergency fund is exhausted, but it also indicates that your check is still processing.
2. It’s in the mail
The check you’re waiting for may be in the mail. With the IRS working to get so many out in a short amount of time, it’s normal for some checks to arrive later than others.
3. You have moved
If you received your last stimulus payment in the mail, but have since moved, it may take longer to receive your check or debit card. As long as you’ve forwarded your mail through the USPS, payment will likely make its way to you. However, if you haven’t forwarded your email yet, contact the IRS and give them your new address. You can call them, submit a change of address form, send a written statement or wait until you file your 2020 tax return. The IRS makes a difference here.
4. You have a new bank account
If you changed banks after your last stimulus check was deposited directly into your bank account, that could be the problem. The IRS does not have the routing or account information needed to fund your new account. Legally, your original bank is required to return the payment to the IRS if you closed the account. If the IRS has your current address on file, they will likely mail a check or prepaid debit card to your hometown.
5. You have filed 2019 tax returns through tax filing software
If you filed your 2019 taxes using tax filing software and chose to pay for the service with your expected refund, you may have to wait for your check. That’s because when you allowed the company to receive their share of your refund, they created a temporary bank account to receive the money. After they were paid, they passed the remainder to you. At the time, the process seemed seamless, and if COVID-19 had never happened, no one would have worried about how payment for the service was processed. The problem is this: Since the IRS sent your 2019 tax refund to the company, that’s the address they have on file for you.
6. You are not eligible
Given the flurry of negotiations over the potential of a second stimulus check, it’s no surprise if there’s some confusion. If you’re hoping for a check but aren’t sure if you qualify, here’s how to qualify:
- You must be a US citizen or alien resident
- You cannot be applied for at the expense of another person
- If you are single, your 2019 Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) must be less than $75,000, householders must have an AGI of less than $112,500, and married couples filing jointly (or surviving spouses) must have an AGI have less than $150,000. You can still receive a reduced payment if you exceed the income requirements, but payments will be stopped completely at $87,000 for individuals and $174,000 for couples.
If for any reason you don’t receive your incentive check, you can claim the incentive money as a “clawback discount” on your 2020 tax return. Once you file a new return, the IRS will have your current address on file and, if you request direct deposit, they will also have your updated banking information.
As long as you qualify, your stimulus check will eventually make its way to you. Whether you need the money to cover immediate expenses or plan to pay off credit card debt, it’s your money to do what you want with it. The hardest part is waiting for it to arrive.