3 Overlooked Reasons Your Stimulus Check Might Be Late

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Most Americans will soon get a welcome gift from Uncle Sam — a little free money in the form of a direct deposit, check or debit card.

President Donald Trump recently signed new coronavirus stimulus legislation that includes cash payments of $600 per person to those who are eligible.

Most people will get their money soon. The IRS began making direct deposits on Dec. 29 and will continue to do so this week. The government also started mailing out paper checks on Dec. 30.

However, there are a handful of circumstances that could prevent you from getting stimulus money in a timely manner.

1. You changed your bank account

Last spring, during the first round of stimulus payments, many Americans received their money by direct deposit into their bank accounts. In most cases, the IRS simply deposited the money into the same account that was listed on the most recent federal tax return of eligible recipients.

If you have not closed your bank account since then, all should be well. The government will simply deposit the new stimulus payment into the same account.

However, if you closed that bank account and opened a new account, the IRS is unlikely to know that fact. And that means you can expect a delay in getting your money. As the IRS says:

“For those without current direct deposit information on file, they will receive the payment as a check or debit card in the mail.”

Incidentally, if this talk of changing bank accounts has you wondering if it’s time to look for a new bank, stop by Money Talks News’ Solutions Center and search for the bank paying the highest rates.

2. You moved to a new location

While Americans typically will receive their stimulus money via direct deposit, a smaller number of folks will get their funds in the form of a mailed check or debit card.

If the IRS does not have your bank account information — which may be the case if you don’t receive a tax refund, for example — this is likely how you received the first stimulus payment, and how you will get the next one.

However, if you have moved since receiving your first stimulus payment and the IRS doesn’t know it, it’s possible your check will not arrive at your home as it should. So, if you have moved — and the IRS doesn’t have your banking information — be sure to let the agency know your updated address.

IRS Topic No. 157 explains how to update your address with the IRS.

3. You hit the ‘unlucky trifecta’

If the following three circumstances apply to you, it could prevent you from getting your stimulus money promptly:

  • You didn’t file a tax return, and
  • You didn’t use the IRS’ “Non-Filers” tool to register for your first stimulus payment by Nov. 21, and
  • You are not a recipient of federal benefits, such as Social Security, Supplemental Security Income or Veterans Affairs benefits

If all three of the above apply, the IRS is unlikely to have your current bank account information or your current address on file. The federal agency advises that you claim your stimulus payment as a tax credit when you file your 2020 income tax return. More on that below.

What happens if you don’t get paid?

If your stimulus payment is delayed for any reason, don’t panic. Somehow, someway, you will get your cash.

In a worst-case scenario, as long as you are eligible for a stimulus payment, you can simply claim the money as a tax credit on your 2020 federal income tax return. As the IRS says:

“Remember, the Economic Impact Payments are an advance payment of what will be called the Recovery Rebate Credit on the 2020 Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR.”

Of course, if you choose this option, you will not see the benefit of the stimulus money, also known as an economic impact payment, until you file your return.

It is important to keep in mind that some people are not eligible for a stimulus payment at all. For more, check out “6 Groups That Won’t Get a Second Stimulus Payment.”

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