9 reasons your full stimulus payment might be delayed, and what to do about it

AP Photo/David Goldman, FileStimulus checks sent by mail are naturally going to take longer.
  • While more than 159 million Americans have received their stimulus checks, some are still experiencing delays.
  • The IRS is working quickly to address delays and other mishaps, but it hasn’t yet provided solutions for every problem.
  • Here are some of the most common issues people have shared on Twitter or in emails to Business Insider, and potential solutions using the information we have.
  • Read more personal finance coverage.

The Treasury Department moved quickly, by government standards, to get stimulus payments out to millions of Americans.

The IRS says it sent out over 159 million relief payments as of June 3, mostly by direct deposit. About 35 million were sent as paper checks and 4 million were prepaid debit cards.

The cash need is urgent for many people who have bills to pay and income to replace, but the system isn’t without fault. On Twitter and in emails to Business Insider, many people have shared their frustrations about payment delays, updating their bank information, and the amount they’re getting.

How you get paid depends in part on whether or not you file taxes. Here are some of the common issues people are experiencing with stimulus payments – or “economic impact payments,” as the IRS calls them – and what to do about it.

If you do file taxes:

1. Your address has changed

If the IRS doesn’t have your direct-deposit information, it will likely mail your payment to the most recent address it has on file, which may come from your latest tax return or the US Postal Service if you submitted an address change.

If the latest tax return you filed was for 2018 and the mailing address is no longer accurate, you can use the “Get My Payment” tool to provide an updated address or, better yet, bank-account information if the IRS has not sent your payment yet.

2. Your bank account was closed

If the latest tax return you filed was for 2018 and you listed a bank account that is now closed, the payment will be returned to the IRS and sent by mail, which could significantly delay your payment.

However, you can check the “Get My Payment” tool to see if your payment has been rescheduled for delivery and if not, provide your new bank information ASAP.

3. You haven’t filed your 2019 tax return yet

Stimulus payments are based off of the adjusted gross income (AGI) on 2019 tax returns, or 2018 if you haven’t filed yet this year. If you didn’t qualify for a payment based on your 2018 income, but you do based on 2019 income, then you should file ASAP.

Payments are being sent throughout 2020, so as long as you file your 2019 return and fall under the income restrictions, you can get your money.

4. Your payment is going to an account number you don’t recognise

According to a report from USA Today, some people quickly realised their stimulus check went to a bank account that isn’t theirs after seeing an unfamiliar bank account number reflected on the “Get My Payment” tool.

The IRS released new guidance on this issue on April 21, stating, “In some cases, your Economic Impact Payment may have been directed to the bank account associated with the refund settlement product or prepaid debit card.” This has reportedly affected up to 21 million people who used TurboTax, H&R Block, and Jackson Hewitt to electronically file a tax return and pay their preparation fee through their refund or get an advance on their refund, The Washington Post reported.

“If the refund settlement product or the associated account is closed or no longer active, the bank is required to reject the deposit and return it to the IRS” and the “Get My Payment” tool will update accordingly, though there may be a delay, the IRS says. After the returned payment is processed, it will be sent as a paper check to the address on the 2019 or 2018 tax return, or address on file with the US Postal Service, whichever is more recent.

In a statement provided to Business Insider, an H&R Block spokesperson said the IRS “created confusion by not always using clients’ final destination bank account information for stimulus payments.”

“We share our clients’ frustration that many of them have not yet received these much-needed payments due to IRS decisions, and we are actively working with the IRS to get stimulus payments sent directly to client accounts,” the spokesperson said.

A spokesperson from TurboTax said: “Any TurboTax customer who selects a refund transfer or a debit card that gets a stimulus payment sent from the IRS to those accounts will receive those stimulus payments without delay or fees. The IRS would be the best source for additional information related to their online stimulus tracking tools and payment details and timing.”

5. You had a significant income change in 2020

If you filed a tax return for 2019 and provided direct-deposit information, your payment should be arriving very soon, if it hasn’t already. Unfortunately for some people, the payment won’t be enough to meet current needs.

The stimulus payments are technically based on 2020 income figures since it is a refundable tax credit offsetting your tax liability for this year. But current income data isn’t readily available to the IRS, so the payments are being made based on previous income.

If your income dropped significantly in 2020, qualifying you for a bigger payment than your 2019 income, you will likely be able to claim your money on next year’s tax return.

6. You live abroad and have a non-US bank account

American expats are eligible to receive stimulus payments, but the process has been fraught with issues for some.

Multiple US citizens living abroad told Business Insider they haven’t been able to access the “Get My Payment” tool to track their payment because they have a foreign address, which the tool doesn’t recognise. Others with no tax liability have tried using the “Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here” tool to provide bank information, but aren’t able to provide a non-US bank account number.

The IRS doesn’t usually send refunds or other deposits to non-US bank accounts, according to its website, and it doesn’t appear to make an exception for the coronavirus stimulus checks. Even people who normally receive federal benefit deposits such as Social Security in a non-US bank account say they haven’t seen their stimulus payment as of late May.

When the IRS doesn’t have bank information, it will send a stimulus payment by mail. If the mail service in your country of residence has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic, or is normally slow, there could be a significant delay in receiving your payment. However, you will likely need a US bank account in order to deposit the check.

Rep. Dina Titus of Nevada sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig on April 23 asking for them to fix these issues for American citizens living abroad, but there hasn’t been a resolution yet.

If you don’t file taxes:

1. The IRS doesn’t have your direct-deposit information yet

If you earn less than the standard deduction for your filing status then you aren’t required to file a tax return (though you still might file to claim refundable tax credits).

In order to issue a stimulus payment to people who normally don’t file taxes or receive any form of government financial aid, the IRS says it needs some basic information. You can use the “Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here” tool to provide your information and choose whether you want your payment via direct deposit – the quicker option – or mail.

Note: If you have dependent children under age 17, the deadline has passed to claim the additional $US500 child payment using the non-filers tool.

2. You receive Social Security benefits, Railroad Retirement benefits, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or Veterans benefits

The IRS will automatically pay Social Security retirement and disability recipients, railroad-service retirees, Veterans Affairs beneficiaries, and people on Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The stimulus payments will be sent in the same manner you receive regular benefits and for the maximum individual amount – $US1,200.

If you use direct deposit or a Direct Express debit card, your payment will get to you quicker than if you typically receive a check in the mail. These payments were slated to be delivered in May, according to the Treasury.

However, if you live abroad and receive federal benefits to a non-US bank account, you may experience a delay in getting your stimulus payment.

3. You receive government benefits but have dependents under age 17

If you’re a recipient of Social Security, SSI, or Railroad Retirement benefits and you also have dependents under age 17, the IRS asked you to take an extra step to get the additional $US500 per child stimulus payment by using the “Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here” tool.

If you didn’t complete this step by the deadline, you’ll only get your individual payment right now. But you will be able to claim the difference on your tax return next year.

Editor’s note: This post has been updated with statements from TurboTax and H&R Block.

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