By now, most Americans eligible for a stimulus check have gotten one, with the IRS announcing last weekend that it has now distributed 130 million economic impact payments in total. But for the 20 million who have not gotten a payment yet, many are understandably confused and concerned about the status of their payment. There are a handful of reasons you haven't gotten your much-needed funds yet.
The IRS has been working hard to get a stimulus check into the hands of every eligible American since March when Congress passed the CARES Act. While the process was expected to take time, some are growing increasingly anxious about just how long that time frame is. The IRS launched a new web tool called Get My Payment for Americans to track their stimulus check, but the site only updates once per day at most, leaving many feeling out of the loop on their incoming financial aid.
The IRS has spun the stimulus check disbursement process as a success. According to a report by ProPublica, the agency is operating with a small staff, yet it has still managed to send out stimulus checks and process taxes with relative efficiency. For most Americans, the frustration is with the communication, as many do not feel they're getting up-to-date information on their payments.
The most relevant information on your stimulus check is available on the Get My Payment website. Beyond that, most people waiting for a stimulus check probably fall into one or more of the categories described below.
First of all, many of the Americans still waiting for a stimulus check are those with the highest income that are still eligible. For those that did not have direct deposit information on file with their last tax return, the IRS revealed it is prioritizing paper checks for those with the lowest gross annual incomes first. That means that anyone close to the $99,000 income threshold will get their check later on in the process.
The IRS is sending out a certain number of paper checks by mail every week, but it has taken some time. Last month, the Associated Press reported that the whole process would take about 20 weeks, with the last of the checks arriving in late August.
IRS Has Wrong Info
The IRS used the information it had on file from 2018 and 2019 taxes to get stimulus checks out, so however you got your last tax refund is how you will get your payment — unless you've updated that information online. This fact complicates matters for those who have closed bank accounts or changed mailing addresses since their last tax filing.
Taxpayers who think they have a discrepancy in their banking or mailing information should use the Get My Payment website to be sure the IRS has the latest updates. However, if the IRS already sent a check to the wrong place, it may be a bit of a waiting game as the payment needs to bounce back to the IRS and then be redirected.
IRS Has No Banking Info
According to a report by CBS News, approximately 8.4 million American families fall into the category of "unbanked" households — with no checking account at all. These Americans have no account for a direct deposit to go into and must wait for a paper check. Unfortunately, this category mostly consists of low-income Americans who need aid most of all.
Americans below a certain income threshold are not required to file taxes at all, and so they are not in the IRS' system. For them, a stimulus check will only come if they use the IRS' new "Non-Filers" tool online. This form will give the IRS the information needed to send an Economic Impact Payment for those who do not file taxes and do not receive social security.
Owed the IRS Money
The IRS has stated they will not collect back taxes and other debts out of stimulus checks, which is good news for most. However, there is a unique situation where Americans may owe the agency money to have a direct payment method set up for electronic funds withdrawal.
In this case, the IRS said it would not use that method to send a stimulus check since they do not want it to be taken right back. Instead, Americans in this situation should use the Get My Payment site to enter their banking information from scratch and get a separate direct deposit. If they take no action, these Americans will still get a paper check eventually.
Recently Filed a Tax Return
When the IRS announced it was using the payment information from taxes to send out stimulus checks, many Americans rushed to file their 2019 tax returns, but this may have slowed the process. The IRS will reportedly process these tax returns before sending out a stimulus check to ensure that they have the most up-to-date information for those Americans. Many people who took this step are now getting the "Payment status not available" response from the Get My Payment website.
The IRS has extended the tax deadline to July 15, with no interest or penalties for those who wait to file. Americans who have not filed their taxes yet may want to wait until their stimulus check is in hand to do so.
Finally, there is some amount of randomness involved in who has gotten stimulus checks so far and who has not. The IRS has transferred a total of about $200 billion to the American people so far, and more is on the way — it merely takes time. As frustrating as it is for those who need their stimulus check badly, The administrative work of sending them out is inevitably taking some time.