Still Waiting for Your Stimulus Check? Here’s Why.

This article was updated on May 13, 2020.

Nearly a month after the IRS deposited the first round of coronavirus stimulus checks into Americans’ bank accounts, millions have still yet to be paid. As of Friday, May 8, the IRS had sent out 130 million payments of roughly $200 billion, leaving literally 20 million U.S. residents awaiting their cut of relief funds. 

May 13th deadline

The IRS made Wednesday, May 13, at 12 p.m., the deadline for updating all direct deposit information. Those who did not manage to update their information will now be waiting until June or later to receive their check in the mail. Many people missed this deadline or could not access the “Get My Payment” online tool due to the website’s overload of users, which resulted in a plague of glitches. 

“After noon Wednesday, the IRS will begin preparing millions of files to send to BFS (Bureau of Fiscal Services) for paper checks that will begin arriving through late May and into June,” the IRS said Friday, May 8.

Why you may be getting the message “Payment Status Not Available” when trying to use the IRS’s “Get My Payment” tool

Here’s a reminder of who is entitled to a relief check under the CARES Act, why you might not have received your check yet, and what you can do to make sure the IRS eventually gives you what you’re owed.

1. You haven’t received a direct-deposit tax refund in recent years.

Unfortunately, the IRS does not keep taxpayers’ bank account information on file. If you’ve received the most recent tax refund in 2018 or 2019, then chances are that the IRS has the appropriate information to direct deposit your Economic Impact Payment.

You are potentially waiting for a paper check, which will be disbursed based on income. According to the committee, the IRS intends to send out payments (both direct deposit and through USPS) on a weekly schedule until everyone eligible receives their check. To meet that goal, the IRS expects to send 5 million paper checks per week, issued in reverse “adjusted gross income” order, sending out payment for the lowest incomes first, the committee said. The IRS estimates it could take up to 20 weeks for everyone eligible for a check to receive their stimulus package.

2. An old bank account received your stimulus check.

The IRS might have your outdated bank account information on file. A 2019-released survey from J.D. Power finds that 4 percent of banking customers switched their banks in 2018, the earliest year of tax returns on which the government based stimulus check direct deposits. 

Fortunately, the IRS has a new online tool known as “Get My Payment” where you can update your bank account info to ensure that the tax agency has the correct information on file. Without this current info, you’ll be waiting on a paper check, which is estimated as up at a 20 week wait.

3. Did you file a paper 2018 or 2019 tax return?

Nearly 17.6 million returns received by the agency were in paper form. In 2018, the IRS accepted 155,798,000 federal tax returns, of which 88.72 percent were electronically filed with the tax agency. 

Prior to the coronavirus, this was a commonly accepted way of returning one’s taxes, though now it has put many Americans in a bind in regards to receiving government aid during the pandemic. Because of this, it has shut down IRS paper return processing centers for the foreseeable future. 

Therefore, people who didn’t receive direct deposit refunds in 2018 and chose to mail their returns in rather than eFile for the 2019 tax year could be waiting up to the estimated 20 weeks for their paper stimulus check. 

4. Adding Trump’s name to the checks

Low-income Americans with adjusted gross incomes (AGIs) under $10,000 may see their paper stimulus checks delayed by the IRS for a uniquely frustrating reason–to put President Trump’s name in the memo section of these checks. 

5. Your check was sent to a temporary tax-service account.

It is possible that your stimulus money has yet to arrive because it was deposited into a temporary account created by a tax-preparation service that you have used. These accounts typically act as a first landing spot for your tax refund, which allows tax-preparation companies to remove any fees that you might owe before forwarding the money onto your bank account or a debit card.

According to CNN, this same error occurred when stimulus payments were sent out in 2008. That year, 20 million people had their payouts sent to one of these temporary accounts, which were eventually rectified when they received their tangible paper check. More than likely, the same course of action will be taken with 2020 coronavirus stimulus payments that wind up in these temporary accounts.

6. Some people may not receive a stimulus check.

You may not be getting a stimulus check from the government if you did not earn enough money in recent years to file a tax return.  

Millions of low-income Americans are not required to file a federal tax return. With standard deductions of $12,200 for single filers and $24,400 for married couples filing jointly in 2019, individuals and couples earning less than this amount did not have to file a tax return.

7. How do non-filers receive a stimulus check?

This new tool is designed for people who did not file a tax return for 2018 or 2019 and who don’t receive Social Security retirement or disability benefits or Railroad Retirement benefits. Those who might consider using the new non-filers tool:

  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients, Social Security, SSDI, Railroad Retirement beneficiaries, and those who receive Compensation and Pension benefit payments from the U.S. department of Veterans Affairs will all get $1,200 checks sent automatically.
  • If you have qualifying children under 17 years of age, you may use the new tool to claim the $500 payment per child. 
  • VA and SSI recipients who started benefits in 2019 or earlier must have used the tool by May 5 to claim their $500 dependent payment. Social Security and SSI recipients who started benefits in 2020 and did not file in 2018 or 2019 should use the tool to get their $1,200 checks and their $500 dependent checks. You do not have to worry about the May 5 deadline, but the sooner you register, the sooner you get your check.

NOTE: Do NOT use this tool if you will be filing a 2019 return. Using the tool instead of filing your 2019 return will slow down processing of your tax return and receiving any tax refund.

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