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Third stimulus check missing: why it could be taking longer and when to expect it

The IRS is sending out the third stimulus payments at a swift clip with 127 million so far, with millions more to go. Why might you still be waiting?

The IRS is sending out the third stimulus payments at a swift clip with 127 million so far, with millions more to go. Why might you still be waiting?

Most people don’t need to do anything but wait for their third stimulus payment to show up in their bank account or in the mail. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is using the information that the agency has on file to distribute the $1,400 direct payments to Americans. But there in may lie the crux of the problem.

For the first round of payments the IRS used taxpayers 2018 or 2019 tax returns to check if a taxpayer was eligible for a stimulus payment. For individuals who receive Social Security (SS) benefits who don’t have to file a tax return, the Social Security Administration (SSA) sent files to the IRS so that the agency could get those recipients their payments. The IRS also provided a Non-Filers tool on its website so that others that don’t normally file could get their payments, as well for people to update information on dependents that was missing for SS beneficiaries.

The IRS sends out the stimulus payments automatically

In the third round of stimulus payments the IRS used taxpayers 2019 and 2020 tax returns, whichever was most recent, or information provided via the Non-Filer tool. Most taxpayers don’t need to do anything more as the IRS will send out payments automatically. However, your circumstances or some of the information the IRS has might have changed recently. Here are some reasons that you may not have received your payment yet.

Who is eligible for the $1,400 stimulus check?

The income eligibility requirements to receive the full $1,400 per person in the third round of stimulus payments remained the same. However, the payments phased out much faster than in the previous rounds, so even though you received the first two payments, you may not be eligible for a third.

Individuals with an adjusted gross income (AGI) less than $75,000, married couples filing jointly making $150,000 and heads of household earning $112,500 will get the full amount per person claimed on tax returns. Above those limits the size of the stimulus payment will be reduced until those making $80,000, $160,000 and $120,000 or more, respectively, will not get any money from the third round of stimulus.

Why some still haven’t seen their stimulus payment yet

Last week it was reported that 30 million SS beneficiaries had not received their stimulus payments after the second batch of payments had gone out. After the House Ways and Means Committee inquired with the IRS and SSA, it was found that the SSA had not yet turned the payment files over to the IRS. The day after the agencies were questioned, the SSA sent the files to the IRS but there is still no word when those missing payments will be sent.

Another group was also missing at least part of their payments. It seemed to be centered around people who had an injured spousal claim on their tax return. It appears that these partial payments are due to a glitch in the payment system and the IRS split up the payments. Frustrated individuals who received less than they were expecting formed a Facebook group called Half Stimulus Missing/Received Status to vent and trade information.

Information the IRS uses has changed recently

Since the IRS sends payments based on the information the agency has on file, if that information has changed, it can cause a delay in payment. If a taxpayer is signed up for direct deposit with the IRS, the agency will try to send payments via this method. However, the IRS has warned that payments in the third round may be sent in a different form than in the previous two rounds.

Two main reasons a payment may take longer to receive are you closed your bank account or you moved house recently. If you closed your bank account recently and the IRS doesn’t have the new account, your payment may be sent as either a paper check or EIP card, a preloaded debit card, to the address the tax agency has. Payments that are sent in the mail will take longer to receive.

If you recently moved and the IRS sent your third stimulus payment in the mail but had your old address when they sent it, the wait could be even longer. But not all is lost; you will want to check with the IRS to see if your payment is in the mail or if the tax agency needs more information to send you a payment.

How to track your stimulus payment?

The easiest way to check your payment and when it is due to arrive is by using the IRS Get My Payment tool where you can track your payment. The tool will let you know how and when you will receive your payment. The IRS will continue to issue the EIP stimulus payments throughout 2021. The IRS only updates the Get My Payment tool information once per day, typically during a two-hour period overnight, so refreshing throughout the day won’t give you any new information.

If your payment is being sent by mail you will want to keep a close eye on your mailbox. You can also use the USPS free service Informed Delivery which lets you know what mail to expect. The Get My Payment tool will not tell you whether you are receiving a paper check or an EIP debit card.

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.


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