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Thursday, June 17, 2021

Still Missing Your Stimulus Check? Here’s What You Should Do, Or Shouldn’t

Millions of Americans have received their third stimulus check, or the Economic Impact Payment, as the IRS calls them. And the figure is big, close to 170 million and counting, worth close to $400 billion. And if you have not received even one, it is time you made your move.  

The third round of the stimulus check coincided with the 2020 tax-filing season. It has been difficult for the IRS to ship out millions of stimulus checks and process millions of tax returns simultaneously.

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Starting March 12, the stimulus checks went out in tranches initially through direct deposit and a month later, through the US postal services as paper checks or prepaid debit cards.

Looking For The Stimulus Check

But millions are yet to get their payment and the reasons for the missing payments are many. Your check might be in the mail. It takes anything between 4 to 6 weeks for a paper check or a prepaid debit card to come in through the US postal service.

But there are a host of other issues that could delay your stimulus check, including incorrect or no bank details, or the wrong postal address. You might not be eligible for a stimulus check based on your income. So there are a few steps to go before you can even claim your stimulus check if they are missing.

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The IRS has also sent out the follow-up, or plus-up payments, for those who have received an initial third stimulus payment but were eligible for more. These payments were mostly sent to those who filed their 2020 tax returns after they received an initial stimulus check. 

The follow-up amount was calculated based on the fresh adjusted gross income figures in the latest returns. A fall in income, the birth of a baby in 2020, or an increase in the number of dependents could have made you eligible for additional payments

The Firsts Step In Tracing Your Stimulus Check

Stimulus check
Stimulus check

You need to first know if you are even eligible for a stimulus check. The EIC is paid based on the adjusted gross income. If you are within the AGI limits, you get paid the full amount of $1,400 per member of the family. And it starts to phase out till a certain amount, and then it phases out totally.

You can use any of the online stimulus check calculators to determine the stimulus amount for you and your family. Once you have determined the total amount, you can move on to the next step, tracking your stimulus check.

You can also find the amount of the third stimulus payment on your online account or refer to the letter signed by the President, Notice 1444-C.

Tracking Your Stimulus Check

You can get details of your stimulus check from the online IRS tool, the Get My Payment tracker. It doesn’t let you know the stimulus amount, but you get two vital bits of information if your stimulus check has been processed and the mode of payment. Based on the information in the tracker, you can decide on your next course of action.

You also need to note that if a follow-up, or plus up,  stimulus payment has been sent after you had filed your 2020 tax returns, the amount of the original payment will not be seen on the online account. You will see on the plus-up payment amount. The same goes for the status of the check.

You will get any one of the following messages when you enter your Get, My Payment tracker.

Payment Status

This indicates that your stimulus payment is on schedule and you should be getting it on the date shown, either as a direct deposit to your account or through the postal service. If your stimulus payment is by mail, you should expect a reasonable delay of 4 to 6 weeks.

This message might also mean that while you are eligible for a payment, your stimulus check is yet to be processed and the payment date is awaited.

Payment Status Not Available

This message specifies that your status is not there on the tracker either because your payment hasn’t been processed or because you are not eligible for a payment based on the information available with the IRS.

Need More Information

stimulus check
stimulus check

This message confirms that your return was processed. But the account details aren’t available and your payment hasn’t been sent yet.

It can also mean that the postal service was not able to locate your address and thus the stimulus check was returned to the IRS.

If a third stimulus check is returned by the postal service, you will be allowed to use the Get My Payment tool to update your bank account details. Your payment can then be reissued directly through your bank.

If you fail to provide any bank details, your stimulus check will be reissued by the IRS, but only when they receive a fresh address.

Could Your Stimulus Check Be Seized By Private Debt Collectors

Your $1,400 check can be garnished by private debt collectors. Unless prohibited by state legislation, private debt collectors can claim part or the full amount of the check. Banks would have to comply with court orders to dock the stimulus payment.

You can contact your bank and work out if you have the option of filing a request at a court to put a stop to the garnishment.

Notice 1444-C: Importance Of The Letter Signed By The President

The IRS sends a letter that should arrive around 15 days after your third stimulus check. Notice 1444-C is a confirmation of your stimulus payment. Signed by the President, it shows the amount you have been paid and the mode of payment.

It is the only official document of your payment and you need to preserve it in your tax file. It will be useful in all future claims and also your tax returns next year.

Checking Up On Your Address

If you have filed your 2020 tax returns, your mailing address will have been updated. Because you need to inform the IRS and the US postal service if you move.

Losing The IRS Letter

You must retain Notice-C as it is the only official document of your third stimulus check. But if you haven’t received Notice 1444-C, you can get that information in the tax account through the IRS site. If you don’t have one, you can create it online by giving certain information. Registering online is a simple process and you will receive two activation codes from the IRS. If you do not receive the codes, the IRS also sends a letter with the details, but it takes 10 days to reach your address. You can track this letter through the US postal service tool.

Having set up the IRS online account, you can now check the online account for details of the notice. It might not be available immediately.

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