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Stimulus Check Update: How to Track and Claim Your Missing Stimulus Money From the IRS

The Motley Fool logo The Motley Fool 6/18/2021 Angelica Leicht
a man and woman sitting next to a laptop: Stimulus Check Update: How to Track and Claim Your Missing Stimulus Money From the IRS © Provided by The Motley Fool Stimulus Check Update: How to Track and Claim Your Missing Stimulus Money From the IRS

Whether or not a fourth stimulus payment will make its way to bank accounts and mailboxes across the nation has been a hot topic lately, and for good reason. Millions of Americans are still struggling to get back on track financially after dealing with job losses and furloughs caused by the pandemic. And, while progress is being made, the economy is still pretty fragile.

But, while people across the country hold out hope that another stimulus check will be passed by lawmakers in the near future, the IRS still hasn't finished issuing the third round of stimulus checks. The federal agency has issued more than 169 million payments to the public since the American Rescue Plan was signed into law in mid-March, and more checks are rolling out on a weekly basis.

The IRS issued another 2.3 million additional payments last week alone, and there are still more to go. If you're one of the Americans who is still missing your third stimulus payment, you may be wondering when your stimulus money or plus-up payment will arrive. Here's what you need to know about tracking or claiming a missing third stimulus check, along with why the money may have gone missing in the first place.

Why your stimulus payment may be delayed

Are you still waiting on your third stimulus payment? You aren't alone. Direct deposit payments and paper checks started rolling out in March, but millions of Americans are still waiting on the latest stimulus payment to hit their mailboxes or bank accounts. There are also millions waiting on plus-up payments to be issued to them by the IRS.

The good news is that the IRS continues to roll out the third round of stimulus payments on a weekly basis. And, while it may be frustrating, there are a number of reasons your $1,400 stimulus check may be delayed.

Some of the common issues causing late or partial stimulus payments to be issued include:

  • You didn't file taxes for 2019 or 2020
  • You didn't qualify for the third payment under the stricter income guidelines
  • Your income from your latest tax filing (2019 or 2020) indicated that you did not qualify for a third payment
  • Your SSDI, SSI, or veterans' benefits caused a delay with your third stimulus payment
  • Your third stimulus check was based on your 2019 taxes, not your 2020 taxes
  • Your stimulus money was garnished for outstanding debts by private debt collectors
  • Your paper check or prepaid debit card is stuck or lost in the mail
  • Your paper check payment was sent to an old or incorrect address
  • You are a non-filer who needs to wait for a plus-up payment
  • The stimulus direct deposit was sent to an old or incorrect bank account
  • A new baby or dependent wasn't calculated into your taxes and you need to be issued a partial plus-up payment

Whatever the cause of your missing check, there are likely ways to resolve the issue and get the money that you qualify for as part of the third stimulus package.

How to find out the status of your stimulus check

If you want to find out what the status of your stimulus check is -- or determine whether you're eligible for the third round of stimulus payments -- you can start with the IRS Get My Payment tool. That's the only way to get information on your stimulus payment. The IRS isn't taking phone calls on stimulus payments.

You can use this tool to find out when your third stimulus payment is scheduled to be sent out, the method of payment -- direct deposit, paper check, or debit card -- and the date it was sent to you (or the date it will be). If you want to use this Get My Payment tool, the best time of the day to do so is in the mornings, as it's generally updated overnight each day.

All you need in order to use this tool is your Social Security number or tax identification number (TIN), your date of birth, your address, and your zip code. Once you input that information, you should get more information on the status of your check.

If you get a message that says "Payment Status Not Available," don't panic. It doesn't necessarily mean that you're not eligible or not in line to receive a payment. That message is normal, according to the IRS, and it will likely be updated after your payment is scheduled to be sent out.

How to resolve the issue of a missing stimulus check

If you determine that your third stimulus payment was issued but you haven't received it, or if your check hasn't been issued yet and you need to get the process started, there are ways to resolve the issue. These include:

A payment trace with the IRS

If the IRS Get My Payment tool gives you a date that your check was issued and you still haven't received it -- or if you receive the confirmation from the IRS stating that your payment was sent -- you may need to initiate a payment trace with the IRS.

You'll need to call the IRS at 800-919-9835 to initiate the payment trace. You can also mail or fax a completed Form 3911, Taxpayer Statement Regarding Refund (PDF), to start the process.

Use the non-filer tool

If you haven't filed a tax return in recent years, you may want to use the IRS non-filer sign-up tool that was recently created by the federal agency. This tool can be used for a number of reasons: if you didn't file a 2019 or 2020 tax return, were not required to file a tax return, do not plan to file a tax return, or if you did not receive the full amount of the first or second stimulus payments.

The good part about using this tool is that it gets the ball rolling on both your missing stimulus payment and the Child Tax Credit money, which is going to be issued beginning next month to those who qualify.

File your 2020 tax return

If you did not receive your third stimulus payment because you made too much money in 2019 but will qualify based on a decreased income for 2020, you need to file your 2020 tax return as soon as possible. In these cases, the IRS will issue a plus-up payment once it determines that you qualify for the third stimulus payment based on your updated income.

You should also file your 2020 taxes to get a plus-up payment if you have a new dependent who was not claimed on your 2019 taxes. In that case, you will also receive a plus-up payment once the IRS determines that you are eligible for more money.

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