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Third stimulus check: what are the reasons for the delay in the payments?

The IRS began sending out $1,400 stimulus checks to millions of eligible Americans last week but some are seeing only half of what they expected to receive.

The IRS began sending out $1,400 stimulus checks to millions of eligible Americans last week but some are seeing only half of what they expected to receive.

President Joe Biden announced on Tuesday that this week over 100 million stimulus payments will have been made. The second batch of $1,400 payments will hit bank accounts 24 March, with the remaining payments sent out as a physical check or debit card.

In the first wave of payments however, some were surprised to see that they didn’t receive the full amount that they were expecting to receive. Even though the IRS told them that they were sent the full amount, what appeared in their bank account came up short.

Why the third stimulus payment less than expected

Frustrated individuals who received less than they were expecting formed a Facebook group called Half Stimulus Missing/Received Status to vent and trade information. Many of the complaints center around not receiving the full amount for dependents, only one spouse receiving the stimulus funds of a married couple filing jointly, or a married couple filed jointly and one person has filed an injured spousal claim.

It appears that these partial payments are due to a glitch in the payment system and the IRS split up the payments. Several of the members of the group have now received the second part of their payment as of Wednesday. However, for others they got a more frustrating message that their pending payment was no longer pending in their bank account.

The second portion of the stimulus payment is on the way

As the IRS works to send out roughly 160 million payments, they caution patience. The agency’s resources are overtaxed this season but the second portion of the payment should be sent the way that was instructed on a filer’s tax return. However, the agency has warned that in some cases the payments will be made in a different form than previous payments. This could be an explanation for the change of status in bank accounts, that the IRS will now send out a physical check or EIP debit card.

The IRS suggests using its Get My Payment tool to track your payment. For couples filing jointly the agency recommends that both taxpayers on the return use their own Social Security numbers to check payment status. The Get My Payment tool should tell you how and when your payment will be sent.

When you use Get My Payment, you’ll see one of the following messages:

Payment Status: Will inform you that your payment has been processed or that you are eligible for a stimulus payment but it hasn’t been processed yet. If your payment has been processed, the portal will tell you when to expect it and whether it will be sent by mail or by direct deposit, but it will not tell you how much to look forward to receiving.

Payment Status Not Available: The IRS still hasn’t determined whether you are eligible or not. It may be the IRS is missing information to finish the determination. The IRS recommends filing a tax return this year even if you don’t normally have to.

Need More Information: This message means that your payment was returned to the IRS because the Postal Service was unable to deliver it. You will need to update your information with the agency so they can reissue the payment. There is more information on this at the end of the article.

For other questions when troubleshooting problems with your third stimulus check payment the IRS provides a helpful Get My Payment Frequently Asked Questions.

New tax provisions tax the IRS

The IRS has been under considerable strain this tax season, and last. In the middle of this year’s tax season the American Rescue Plan Act was passed. The $1.9 trillion covid-19 relief bill which included the $1,400 stimulus checks, also created new tax provisions and a waiver on the first $10,200 in unemployment compensation received. These are just a few reasons why the IRS extended the deadline to file taxes to 17 May.

Currently, the agency has a backlog of 2.4 million individual tax returns filed before January 2021 and the agency is processing another 7.3 million returns. On top of that the IRS must go back and retroactively exempt the up to $10,200 in unemployment benefits from taxable income. At the same time create a new portal for the enhanced Child Tax Credit, which can’t be done until the Economic Impact Payments, or stimulus checks, are finished.

Third stimulus check: latest updates

You can get the latest information on the third stimulus check, and updates on the possibility of a fourth direct payment, by following our dedicated live blog.

You'll also find news on other provisions in Biden’s economic-aid package, such as an enhanced child tax credit that offers qualifying families up to $3,000 per child aged six to 17, and $3,600 per child below six.