Stimulus Checks: How Yours Can Be Delayed If You Used a Tax Preparation Company

While most Americans saw their $1,200 stimulus checks deposited into their bank accounts this week, some have reported their checks being deposited into the account of the tax preparer they used and not their own. Others have reported seeing the wrong account number on the IRS tracking site. The stimulus checks were sent out to millions of taxpayers this week as part of the $2 trillion CARES Act passed into law last month to help Americans during the coronavirus pandemic.

In Atlanta, customers stopped by an ATC income tax preparer office after learning their stimulus checks were deposited into ATC's account, not their own. "All of us have different accounts so we don't understand why our money would end up in the company's account," Monia Orr, who used ATC, told Fox5 Atlanta. The network heard several similar complaints from others Wednesday and reached out to the IRS. While the IRS did not respond, an ATC marketing coordinator said the issue was the IRS' fault.

"The IRS crippled our operations by doing what they said they weren't going to do," Michael Oden, the ATC Marietta franchisee said. "The IRS sent thousands of stimulus payments that should have been sent directly to taxpayers, to our bank partner Refund Advantage... But wait, it gets worse. Now our clients can't update the IRS's Economic Stimulus portal with up-to-date banking information because the portal now informs them their Stimulus Payments have been deposited into their account. My gut tells me this will continue to happen in the coming weeks."

Oden explained a partner "received 300,000 checks today, when - by law - we're [ACT] not supposed to receive anything outside of refunds." They sent the checks back to the IRS, but they continue receiving calls from customers who think they have their money. The IRS website offers no answers. "We just don’t want public or clients to think this is something we've strategically or maliciously done, or have any part in doing," Oden said.

This is not an isolated case. According to the Washington Post, customers who used H&R Block, TurboTax and Jackson Hewitt complained about not getting their stimulus checks. Consumer law expert Vijay Raghavan estimates up to 21 million tax filers might not get their checks right away because the IRS does not have their direct deposit information on file as they used these companies to prepare their taxes.

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Matt Sielen of California told the Post he learned he would not get the check as payment on his H&R Block Emerald Card. He and his wife were hoping on a $3,400 check to help their family after he lost his job. However, since he had H&R block take the tax preparation fee out of his refund, the IRS does not have their bank information. "I'm not happy with H&R Block. I probably won't be doing business with them ever again," he said.

Six other people told the Post they had similar experiences. Others have taken to social media to complain the IRS tracking site shows a wrong bank account number or "Payment Status Not Available." The IRS said those who cannot see the status for their payments might not be eligible, you filed a 2019 tax return that has not been processed yet, or you have not filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return. If you are a Social Security, disability or Railroad Retirement beneficiary, the IRS uses your SSA or RRB Form 1099 information, and your payment status will not be listed on the "Get My Payment" site. The site is only updated once per day.