IRS stimulus check delivery status: What happens now if your payment didn’t already arrive – CNET

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If you didn’t get your stimulus check, when’s it coming? If you did, are you sure you got the right amount? Here’s what to know.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Thirty-seven million new stimulus checks are going out by the end of this week, the Treasury said Wednesday, bringing the total to 127 million stimulus payments for up to $1,400 per person. We’ll share the breakdown below of how many checks went out to each payment method. But if you’re still waiting for your stimulus check to arrive, the real question is: when’s it coming? 

Here’s one bottom line: if you didn’t get your money through direct deposit by March 24 (the official date) or thereabouts, it means you’re getting a paper check or EIP debit card. The good news is, you can track your schedule date through the IRS or with the US Postal Service through this free tool. Social Security and other federal benefits, including SSDI and SSI recipients, veterans and retired railroad workers are one major group waiting for their payments — unless this subset of non-filers got a first or second check using the IRS’ Non-Filers tool, which is now closed. In that case, you should get your payment automatically.

No matter which group you’re in, what’s holding up your payment and when will it come? It may not help that the USPS is currently experiencing delays, according to The New York Times. It could also take months for some people to receive their full stimulus check total, for example if the IRS uses your 2019 taxes to calculate your share, but owes you more money based on your 2020 taxes. And what happens if you have a problem with your stimulus check? We’ll go over these scenarios below. While you’re here, this is the story so far on a fourth stimulus check. This story was updated with new information.

Stimulus check delivery status — what we know

Here’s how the checks have been sent so far:

First payment batch ~ March 17:

  • Direct deposit: 90 million ($242 billion)
  • Paper checks: 150,000 ($442 million)

Second payment batch ($83 billion) ~ March 24

  • Direct deposit: 17 million ($38 billion)
  • Paper checks: 15 million ($34 billion)
  • EIP cards: 5 million ($11 billion)

What next: People who didn’t receive direct deposit by March 24 will receive a stimulus payment in the mail. However, no distribution date has been given for SSI and SSDI recipients. With mail delays on the horizon, it isn’t clear how long it will take from the time the IRS or Treasury sends your payment to the date it’s received. Other additional complications could also hold up your payment. If you moved recently, tell the IRS and USPS.

Stimulus check delivery dates

Stimulus bill passed Congress March 10
Stimulus bill signed into law March 11
First direct deposit sent March 12 (provisional), March 17 (official)
First paper checks sent Week of March 15
First EIP cards sent Week of March 22
Last day to get direct deposit March 24
SSI and SSDI checks sent Not yet announced
IRS deadline to finish sending checks Dec. 31, 2021 (mandated by the bill)
Last date to receive a check January 2022 (if mailed checks sent late December)
Claims for missing stimulus money open 2021 tax season likely (in 2022)

You can track your stimulus check status online

The IRS updates its Get My Payment tracker tool for stimulus checks daily. This online app shows you the status of your payment, including when a check is scheduled for delivery. The IRS portal can also flag if there’s a problem with your payment that you may need to address, but it doesn’t tell you the amount you’ll receive. You can use a free tool from the USPS to track your mailed stimulus payment.


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Stimulus check 3: How much money you’ll get

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Here’s what could hold up or divide your stimulus payment

Here’s more information on problems you might encounter with your stimulus check.

What should you do if there’s an issue with your payment?

Sorry, but the IRS really doesn’t want you to call if you have any issue with the delivery or amount of your stimulus check. So what should you do instead? We have a guide that walks you through how to report stimulus check problems, including checks that never arrive (try filing a payment trace), direct deposit payments that go to the wrong account and more. 

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How you get your stimulus check could influence how soon your payment arrives.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Why your 2019 tax return could cause a hurdle

Taxes are now due May 17. So how will the IRS figure out how much it owes you? It will calculate your total (you can also do that here) based on the most recent tax filing it’s processed at the time it’s ready to tabulate your check.

If you filed your 2020 taxes early and you know your tax return was already processed, your total will likely be based on your 2020 adjusted gross income, not on your 2019 AGI. That presents complications if the difference between the two years disqualifies you from getting a third stimulus check

On the flipside, if the IRS uses your 2019 taxes and you’re owed more money based on your 2020 AGI and dependents, you’ll need to claim the difference at a later date. (Learn more about some of the stimulus check exceptions and catches here.)

If the IRS owes you money, you have to claim it later

There are several reasons the IRS may owe you stimulus money after it sends out the third round of checks. Maybe the agency processed your 2019 tax return instead of 2020 and there was a discrepancy. Or maybe you had a baby in 2020 that you still need to claim as a dependent. Maybe a clerical error accidentally left out a new dependent. Perhaps your payment never arrived or was accidentally garnished

Whatever the reason, the IRS may provide a way to file for missing stimulus money before the Dec. 31 deadline. If not, you might have to wait a year to claim it, when you file your 2021 taxes in 2022 (even if you’re a nonfiler who isn’t typically required to file taxes).

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The first two stimulus checks were nominally sorted by different payment groups, and one had a clear advantage over the others.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Stimulus payments can technically arrive through December

Although the IRS and Treasury are sending stimulus checks now, the agencies have until Dec. 31, 2021, to complete distributing the third payments. That’s good news in the sense they aren’t facing a compressed deadline to send out all the checks, as they did with the second stimulus check in December, which only provided them a 17-day window to get the payments out. On the other hand, the nearly nine-month total delivery window also means some people may find themselves waiting, for a variety of reasons. We’ll have to wait and see how the IRS deals with any fringe issues that arise. 

More stimulus check details you may need to know

Stimulus checks aren’t necessarily a one-size-fits-all situation. Here are additional guides for:

And here’s everything you need to know about the third stimulus check, how to calculate your stimulus total and every way the stimulus bill can bring you more money.

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