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Your third stimulus hasn't arrived. How to track your payment status with the IRS

CNET logo CNET 5 hrs ago Clifford Colby
text, letter: In the dark about your stimulus payment? You can find out more through the IRS website tracker. IRS © Provided by CNET In the dark about your stimulus payment? You can find out more through the IRS website tracker. IRS

If you still haven't received your third stimulus check, it's time to start keeping a close eye to see if it's pending deposit in your bank account or if it's stuck en route in the mail. You may also find that it hasn't yet been sent or there could be an issue with your payment. The IRS continues sending out more payments each week, including "plus-up payments," to those who qualify for a larger payment, all while wrapping up tax season (Tax Day is May 17).

If you're looking for an answer, use the IRS stimulus check tracking tool. It can reveal information you can act on (for instance, if you need to file a payment trace) or it could help put your mind at ease about the status of your payment. The tool isn't perfect, and there are some details that we'll explain below. It's also a good idea to know how much stimulus money you should expect since the tool won't tell you. 

The IRS will soon prepare to disburse child tax credit checks for up to $3,600 for those eligible -- calculate your child tax credit total here. You also have until May 17 to see if the IRS owes you any extra tax refund money. While we're on the subject, you can find out in under 2 minutes if your state owes you money, too. Here's how to claim up to thousands in child care expenses and what we know about a possible fourth stimulus payment. We update this story often.

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IRS Get My Payment tracking tool: What can it tell me about my payment? 

To get an update on your third stimulus check using Get My Payment, enter your Social Security number, date of birth, street address and ZIP or postal code. The tool will display a message with information about your payment. You can see things like whether your money was sent or is scheduled to be sent, the payment method (direct deposit, paper check or EIP card) and the date your stimulus money was issued. It may also say it can't yet determine your status -- see more below about error messages.

We currently believe the IRS payment tracking tool does not give you the status of a plus-up payment, if you're due one.

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What won't the Get My Payment tracking tool say?

The IRS tool will not give you hourly updates -- the status information is updated once daily (usually overnight) -- nor will it tell you how much stimulus money you're getting (calculate your stimulus payment here) or provide details on the first two stimulus checks approved in 2020. You won't find steps for what to do if you run into payment problems.

The IRS doesn't want you to call if you have payment trouble, either. The agency says its representatives don't have information beyond what's shown in the tool. Here's what we recommend doing to address a stimulus issue.

What if I see a message that says 'Payment Status Not Available'?

Don't be alarmed if the Get My Payment tool gives you a message that says "Payment Status Not Available." You may see this message until your payment is processed, according to the IRS. So you may not have to do anything.

But it could also mean you're not eligible for a payment, according to the IRS. So you may want to double-check your eligibility and plug your numbers in our stimulus check calculator to see whether you're due money.

What does the 'Need More Information' message mean?

According to the IRS FAQ, a Need More Information message in the Get My Payment tool means your payment was returned because the US Postal Service wasn't able to deliver it.

The FAQ says you'll be able to have your payment reissued as a direct deposit by providing a routing and account number for a bank account, a prepaid debit card (the card must be reloadable) or a financial service account that has a routing and account number associated with it. The FAQ says you can also update your mailing address to receive your payment.

How can I find my money if the IRS tracking tool says my payment was already issued?

If the IRS' online tool says the agency has issued your stimulus money, but you have no record of it in your bank account and it never arrived in your mailbox, you may need to take one of these steps, including possibly filing a stimulus check payment trace. You'll need to have the letter the IRS sent you; it can take 15 days for that letter to arrive in the mail.

How do I track my paper check through USPS?

If your third stimulus check is going out in the mail, the US Postal Service has a free app that can notify you when it's about to deliver your stimulus money from the IRS. Informed Delivery is a mail-tracking service that automatically scans your letters and alerts you to when they'll be delivered. Here's more on how to set up and use the letter-tracking service from the USPS to keep tabs on your payment.

Why do I need to keep the IRS letter confirming my stimulus check payment? 

If the IRS issues you a stimulus check, it sends a notice by mail to your last known address within 15 days after making the payment to confirm delivery. The letter contains information on when and how the payment was made and how to report it to the IRS if you didn't receive all the money you're entitled to. You'll need to reference this information if you don't receive your full payment and need to claim your money later. Here's how to recover the information if you lost or tossed the letter.

What do veterans and SSI and SSDI beneficiaries need to know about their third stimulus check?

The IRS tracking tool Get My Payment is designed to tell you the status of your third stimulus check. People who receive Social Security benefits like SSDI and SSI and veterans who don't file taxes can now see their payment status in the tracker tool. Tens of millions of Social Security recipients and veterans have already received their $1,400 payment.

What if the first two stimulus payments from 2020 haven't arrived? 

The IRS is no longer automatically sending out the first and second payments that were approved in 2020. If you believe you're still owed money from either of those payment rounds, your best chance of claiming those funds is to file for the Recovery Rebate Credit as part of the 2020 tax season

If you're eligible, you'll need to know the amount of money the IRS allotted you, which you can find out online or from the letter the agency mailed. The IRS said the updated Get My Payment tracker won't give you information on the first and second checks. Instead, you need to set up and check your IRS account for information on those payments.

Can I use the Get My Payment tool to add my direct deposit banking info?

The IRS stopped sending direct deposits for the third payment on March 24 -- unless you're a Social Security recipient -- but even before then, you couldn't use the Get My Payment tool to sign up for a new account or correct details about your payment. Even if the IRS is unable to deliver your payment to a bank account and the money is returned to the government, you won't be able to correct the details online -- the IRS says it will send the money again by mail.

With the IRS officially extending the 2020 tax filing deadline to May 17 and delaying processing tax returns, trying to register for a new direct deposit account with your 2020 tax return won't get you into the system quickly enough. However, if you haven't submitted your taxes yet, signing up for a new direct-deposit account could still get you any tax refund faster, and it could also help you receive other benefits quicker, such as a future child tax credit.

For more stimulus check details, here's everything to know about the third check. Here's every way the March 2021 stimulus bill can benefit you. And here's what we know so far about whether a fourth stimulus check could happen.


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