What do I do if my economic stimulus check never comes?


100 dollar bill with Ben Franklin's head

If you’re still waiting for your stimulus check, you’re not alone.


Angela Lang/CNET

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Millions of people around you have received their stimulus checks from the government, but not you. Your check appears to be missing. The doubt creeps in. Will it ever arrive, or has the IRS somehow forgotten your payment? It’s too soon to panic, but hopefully we can help. 

The IRS has been sending economic relief money to eligible Americans since the middle of April. It’s all part of a financial rescue package to help offset the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. The IRS even built an online tool to help people track the status of a 2020 payment as it’s being processed and to authorize a relief check for people who don’t usually file taxes. 

But if the portal, called Get My Payment, isn’t giving you information you understand or said your check is on the way and you haven’t received it, there may be a reason — and something you can do about it, including contacting the IRS.

This story updates frequently with new information. If you’re seeking additional personal finance information, we have suggestions for how to spend the stimulus money, how the coronavirus may affect your rent payment and other ways to get financial relief during the pandemic.


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Are you eligible for a stimulus check?

Before you go any further, just double-check that you meet one of these qualifications for a stimulus payment. The numbers below are based on your 2018 or 2019 taxes (whichever you filed moat recently). Specifically, you’ll need to know your AGI, or adjusted gross income, which you can find on your most recent 1040 federal tax form. For more questions about eligibility, like if you don’t normally file taxes, we recommend looking at our guide to the stimulus check.

You’re eligible to receive a stimulus check if:

  • You are a single US resident and have an AGI under $99,000.
  • You file as the head of a household (considered unmarried with at least one dependent) and earn less than $146,500.
  • You file jointly without children and earn under $198,000.
  • You are the parent of a child aged 16 or younger.

The IRS might need more information from you

If you filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return or receive government benefits, the IRS should automatically send your check without you having to do anything. 

However, if you are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, had a gross income in 2019 under $12,200 — or $24,400 as a married couple — and didn’t file a return for 2018 or 2019, you may need to give the IRS a bit of information before it can process your payment. Head to the Non-Filers site and see if the IRS needs something from you.

The IRS says it sent your payment weeks ago, but you haven’t gotten it

A handful of CNET readers report the IRS’ Get My Payment app told them to expect their payment weeks ago, either in the mail or by direct deposit, but they haven’t seen their check. 

“Mine was scheduled to be mailed on May 1,” one reader said in a comment. Another said the IRS told them “it would be in my direct account April 15.” A third reported she was given an April 24 date and her husband had May 4. Another also had a May 4 date. They all say they are still waiting for their checks. 

“Last week I got a letter in the mail saying that I received my payment. But, no, I have not,” another reader reported after receiving the confirmation letter the IRS sends out 15 days after it sends the payment. 

We asked the IRS how it will handle payments that its Get My Payment tool says have been sent but that people say are missing, and will update this story with the agency’s response.

The Get My Payment portal won’t give you an update on your check status

Some people continue to get payment status error messages in the Get My Payment tool and a group has started an online petition asking the IRS for help. On the group’s Facebook page, commenters report on the variety of possible reasons for the delay. 

One person said the IRS told her her payment was under a 60-day review because of a problem with her direct deposit information. Another said the IRS told them their social security number does match its records. The IRS has not responded to our questions about these possible errors.

The IRS sent your check to a closed account 

Your check may have bounced back to the IRS if it tried to send your payment to a now-closed bank account or to a temporary prepaid debit card a tax preparer set up for you. If your payment was returned to the IRS, the agency will mail your check to the current address it has on file for you.

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Are you still waiting for your stimulus check in the mail?


Sarah Tew/CNET

You accidentally threw it away

Four million people will receive their stimulus money on a prepaid debit card called the Economic Impact Payment Card instead of a paper check. The EIP Card arrives in a plain envelope, the IRS said, with “Money Network Cardholder Services” as the sender. 

Some people, taking it for junk mail, may have mistakenly thrown these letters away. If you’ve misplaced or thrown away your card, the EIP Card service has an FAQ on what to do if your card is lost or stolen.  

The federal government intercepted your payment

If you owe child support, the IRS can redirect your payment to cover past-due support. The Bureau of the Fiscal Service will send you a notice if this happens.


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You didn’t get the full amount you are owed

A different, but related, issue could be a change in your income in 2020. In some cases, the IRS may owe you more money than you received if the income figure it used to calculate your payment from your tax returns in 2018 or 2019 is less in 2020. 

Likewise, if you now have a new dependent, such as a child, who is not reflected on your tax returns, you may be owed more money. In either case, the IRS said you can claim the additional amount on your 2020 tax return when you file next year. We recommend keeping a detailed record so you don’t forget.

Someone stole it from your mailbox or otherwise defrauded you

While it’s uncommon, you may believe you’ve been scammed out of your payment or had it stolen. The Federal Trade Commission has a website where you can report a stolen stimulus check. We’ve asked the IRS what other recourse you have if this situation applies to you.

How to contact the IRS

Within 15 days after it sends out your payment, the IRS will mail you a letter confirming the payment. At the bottom of the letter is a number you can call for more information: (800) 919-9835.

Earlier this month, the IRS added 3,500 telephone representatives to help with potential problems regarding payments. The IRS help number is (800) 829-1040.

As you work to find the status of your money, here’s what we know about a second round of stimulus checks, how best to use your stimulus check and how to avoid scams
that target coronavirus fears.



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