Stimulus Checks: How to Order a Trace of Missing Payment

It is not too late to request a payment trace for your stimulus check from the IRS if you still have not received it. A payment trace is a service the IRS offers for two specific situations: if their Get My Payment app shows that your payment has been sent, and/or you received a Notice 1444 saying that your payment was sent, but you still have not received the payment itself. If that describes your situation, a payment trace may be your best course of action.

If you have not received your second stimulus check yet, you may need to do some leg work to track it down. The IRS has now stopped distributing the payments since the deadline has passed, so it is important to find out if your check is in transit or if it's not coming at all. In either case, you will still be able to claim your money.

The IRS sent $600 to as many eligible Americans as possible in the first half of this month, using whatever payment information it had on hand from your 2019 tax filings. If you received your tax refund as a direct deposit, that means your stimulus check was probably sent that way, so you may need to contact your bank and other agencies to get that sorted out. If you got it as a paper check in the mail, the IRS would be reaching you that way. In either case, if the IRS' "Get My Payment" app said that your check was issued, but you have yet to receive it, you will probably need to use the agency's new "Payment Trace" tool as well.

The Get My Payment tool on the IRS website can give you the status of your stimulus check, which you'll need before you try a Payment Trace. Even then, you should only request a Payment Trace if you're sure your check isn't being processed by the bank or making its way through the mail. Experts at CNET recommend waiting five days after a direct deposit or four weeks after a check was mailed to request a Payment Trace.

You should also request a Payment Trace if you received a letter from the IRS confirming your payment, but not the payment itself. This has happened to some Americans, and another slew of errors plagued the second check distribution this month.

You can request a Payment Trace by phone, mail, or fax with the IRS. Its website has full instructions for the process, and remember that the agency technically refers to the check as an "Economic Impact Payment."

The Payment Trace is a tool for a few specific circumstances, and sadly many others did not get their payment for different reasons. If your check never arrived simply because of the delayed clerical process, you will be able to file for a Recovery Rebate Credit on your 2020 taxes. That allows eligible taxpayers to get any stimulus money they were entitled to but did not receive, either now or in March. That includes missed payments for dependents as well.


The second stimulus check has essentially come and gone, and lawmakers are already discussing a third. President-elect Joe Biden proposes another one-time $1,400 direct payment to eligible Americans when he takes office next week.