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What happens if my stimulus check never comes? Here’s what you can do

What happens if my stimulus check never comes? Here’s what you can do

100 dollar bill with Ben Franklin's head

Still waiting for your stimulus check to arrive, you’re not alone.

Angela Lang/CNET

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

If you’ve been waiting since the middle of April for your coronavirus stimulus check to show up, you might be wondering if your situation falls into a scenario that could legitimately delay your stimulus check. — or if your check will even come at all. 

If you’re concerned that your payment has slipped through the cracks, we have some information that might help, including how to contact the IRS if your check never appears. 

This story updates frequently with new information. If you’re seeking additional personal finance information, we have suggestions for how to spend the stimulus moneyhow the coronavirus may affect your rent payment and other ways to get financial relief
 during the pandemic.

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Stimulus Checks Helpline


First make absolutely sure you’re eligible for a stimulus check

Before you go any further, just double-check that you meet one of the qualifications for a stimulus payment. The numbers below are based on your 2018 or 2019 taxes (whichever you filed most recently). Specifically, you’ll need to know your AGI, or adjusted gross income, which you can find on your most recent 1040 federal tax form. For more questions about eligibility, like if you don’t normally file taxes, we recommend looking at our guide to the stimulus check.

You’re eligible to receive a stimulus check if:

  • You are a single US resident and have an AGI under $99,000.
  • You file as the head of a household (considered unmarried with at least one dependent) and earn less than $146,500.
  • You file jointly without children and earn under $198,000.
  • You are the parent of a child aged 16 or younger.

Did you check the IRS tracking tool, Get My Payment?

After determining that you’re eligible, our first suggestion is to visit the IRS’ online tool designed to track the status of a 2020 payment. Generally, it should tell you when your check will be processed and how you’ll receive it (for example, as a paper check in the mail). If this Get My Payment portal isn’t giving you information you understand or said your check is on the way and you haven’t received it, you may need to eventually report the discrepancy to the IRS (more below). 

You get a ‘Need More Information’ message from Get My Payment

If the Get My Payment tool gave you a payment date but you’ve still not received your money, the IRS may need more information for you. Check the Get My Payment tool again, and if it reports “Need More Information,” it could indicate that your check has been returned because the post office was unable to deliver it, an IRS representative told CNET.

After you see the “Need More Information” message, the online tool will let you enter your banking information to receive your payment straight to your bank account. The IRS said If you don’t provide your bank account information, it will hold your payment till it receives a current mailing address. Head to the IRS change-address page for how to update your address with the IRS.

Did you accidentally throw it away?

Four million people will receive their stimulus money on a prepaid debit card called the Economic Impact Payment Card instead of a paper check. The EIP Card arrives in a plain envelope, the IRS said, with “Money Network Cardholder Services” as the sender. 

Some people, taking it for junk mail, may have mistakenly thrown these letters away. If you’ve misplaced or thrown away your card, the EIP Card service has an FAQ on what to do if your card is lost or stolen.  You can also call (800) 240-8100 to request a free replacement, according the the Treasury Department. Press option 2 when prompted to request a new card.

The IRS may be waiting for you to file a form

If you filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return or receive government benefits, the IRS should automatically send your check without you having to do anything. 

If, however, you’re a US citizen or permanent resident, had a gross income in 2019 under $12,200 — or $24,400 as a married couple — and didn’t file a return for 2018 or 2019, you may need to give the IRS a bit of information before it can process your payment. Head to the Non-Filers site and see if the IRS needs something from you.

The IRS sent you a confirmation letter, but you haven’t received your check

A handful of CNET readers report the IRS sent them a letter confirming their payment but they’ve not received their check. 

“Last week I got a letter in the mail saying that I received my payment. But, no, I have not,” a CNET reader reported after receiving the confirmation letter the IRS sends out 15 days after it sends the payment. 

We asked the IRS how it will handle payments it reports have been sent but that people say are missing, and will update this story with the agency’s response.

The Get My Payment portal won’t give you an update on your check status

Some people continue to get payment status error messages in the Get My Payment tool and a group has started an online petition asking the IRS for help. On the group’s Facebook page, commenters report on the variety of possible reasons for the delay. 

One person said the IRS told her her payment was under a 60-day review because of a problem with her direct deposit information. Another said the IRS told them their social security number doesn’t match its records. The IRS has not responded to our questions about these possible errors and what information you should have onhand before you contact the IRS.

The IRS sent your check to a closed account 

Your check may have bounced back to the IRS if it tried to send your payment to a now-closed bank account or to a temporary prepaid debit card a tax preparer set up for you. If your payment was returned to the IRS, the agency will mail your check to the current address it has on file for you.


Are you still waiting for your stimulus check in the mail?

Sarah Tew/CNET

The federal government intercepted your payment

If you owe child support, the IRS can redirect your payment to cover past-due support. The Bureau of the Fiscal Service will send you a notice if this happens.

You didn’t get the full amount you are owed

A different, but related, issue could be a change in your income in 2020. In some cases, the IRS may owe you more money than you received if the income figure it used to calculate your payment from your tax returns in 2018 or 2019 is less in 2020. 

Likewise, if you now have a new dependent, such as a child, who is not reflected on your tax returns, you may be owed more money. In either case, the IRS said you can claim the additional amount on your 2020 tax return when you file next year. We recommend keeping a detailed record so you don’t forget.

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Someone stole it from your mailbox or otherwise defrauded you

While it’s uncommon, you may believe you’ve been scammed out of your payment or had it stolen. The Federal Trade Commission has a website where you can report a stolen stimulus check. We’ve asked the IRS what other recourse you have if this situation applies to you.

How to contact the IRS

Within 15 days after it sends out your payment, the IRS will mail you a letter confirming the payment. At the bottom of the letter is a number you can call for more information: (800) 919-9835.

Earlier this month, the IRS added 3,500 telephone representatives to help with potential problems regarding payments. The IRS help number is (800) 829-1040.

If you do reach out to the IRS over the phone, it’s a good idea to give yourself plenty of time for the call. We wouldn’t be surprised if call volumes are up, or if conversations take some time. It’s also a smart idea to gather your information in front of you, like a copy of your most recent tax ID and the letter that the IRS sent, if you received one. 

We’ve reached out to the IRS for more information about how to prepare for a call to a representative.

As you work to find the status of your money, here’s what we know about a second round of stimulus checks, how best to use your stimulus check and how to avoid scams
that target coronavirus fears.

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