Why Haven’t I Received My COVID-19 Stimulus Check?

By Jacinta Sherris

Washington recently introduced a second, $900 billion stimulus plan that will extend unemployment benefits and provide additional financial relief from the COVID-19 economic recession. 

Another round of CARES act stimulus checks, this time featuring a one-time $600 payment towards qualifying individuals, are in the process of being distributed. 

If you received your first stimulus check in early 2020, can expect to receive the second round of funds automatically. Your $600 – and every additional $600 for each dependent child you have – will be deposited in the exact same way you received your first economic impact payment. Either mailed to the address you provided on your most recent tax form or deposited directly into your bank account

If you never received your first stimulus in early 2020, it may be because you don’t qualify for the Economic Impact Payments or didn’t file your taxes. You may or may not be able to receive the second round of funds this time around either. 

Here’s what you need to know about why you haven’t received your COVID-19 stimulus check. 

Who Gets Stimulus Checks First?

If the IRS has direct deposit information for you and your 2019 tax filing on hand, it’s easier for them to send you your stimulus check. So the IRS has begun distributing money to this group of people first. The checks will be deposited into the bank accounts the IRS has on file for these individuals.

Next up for receiving payments will be Social Security and Supplemental Security Income recipients, and they should receive the payments automatically very soon, according to the IRS. 

Then, after those two groups receive their funds, the IRS will begin mailing paper checks to the hardest group to reach: those without any electronic payment info on record or those who haven’t authorized their direct deposit info with the IRS in the last two years.

These checks will be the last to go out. If you’re in this group expect to wait a couple of weeks for your funds. The IRS can process about 5 million checks a week, so it could take months before all of them are sent.

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Four Reasons Why Your COVID-19 Check May Be Late

We’ll break it down into a list here of four reasons why you might not have received your COVID-19 stimulus check yet and show you how to qualify for payments in 2021. 

1. You didn’t file taxes electronically or get a tax refund in 2018 or 2019

If you didn’t file your 2018 or 2019 federal taxes electronically and receive a refund in those years via direct deposit, the IRS won’t be able to deposit your IRS stimulus money automatically.

Also, if you owed money on your 2018 or 2019 taxes and the IRS made an electronic withdrawal of the money you owed, it won’t use that same bank account info to deposit a stimulus check now. You’ll have to wait for a paper check. The same goes if you filed entirely on paper.

2. You have an old bank account on file with the IRS 

If you haven’t filed or didn’t receive a refund in 2019, the IRS will use the direct deposit info from your 2018 tax year filing or refund. If that account isn’t active, the money will get returned to the IRS. Then, they’ll have to reroute it to another account (say you file your 2019 taxes in the meantime) or find an address for you and mail a paper check. This could also take a while. 

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3. You aren’t normally required to file a tax return

If you’re one of the millions of lower-income people who aren’t normally required to file tax returns, you may be able to still claim funds if you file your taxes in 2021. 

4. Your refund went to a temporary account set up by a tax preparer like H&R Block

When you use tax preparers like TurboTax, sometimes they set up a temporary account into which your tax refund is deposited first. They take out their fees and then transfer the remaining refund money to you.

 If you used a tax preprepar, the IRS may only have the tax preparer’s temporary account on file for you and may send your check there. If this happens, the check could get bounced back, and then the IRS will have to send a paper check, which adds time.

The good news is that tax preparers are aware of this issue, and some like TurboTax are on the lookout and forwarding the stimulus check money if they have the correct banking info for customers. 

What to do if you never received your stimulus check 

If you never received your stimulus check in early 2020, you won’t receive the second round of funds automatically. Unfortunately, the deadline for qualifying for Economic Impact Payments has already passed.

However, you may still be able to receive your funds in 2021 via a Recovery Rebate Credit on your 2020 tax forms. 

A Recovery Rebate Credit will either increase your next tax rebate or reduce the amount of taxes you owe. You may be able to receive a Recovery Rebate Credit if you were eligible for a stimulus payment but didn’t receive one because of some of the reasons outlined above. 

You’ll need to file your 2020 taxes in 2021 in order to receive a Recovery Rebate Credit. You can read more about how to qualify on the IRS website.

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