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Didn't Get a Coronavirus Stimulus Check? Here's How to Fix It

By Daniel B. Kline – Apr 23, 2020 at 6:30AM

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The IRS is trying to get payments out. In some cases, you can help get yours faster.

Most Americans with income under qualifying rates will receive a coronavirus stimulus check (technically, an "Economic Impact Payment," and in most cases, it will come as a direct deposit and not a check). However, processing roughly 150 million payments isn't easy, and there have been glitches.

If you did not get your coronavirus stimulus check, it's important to take action. The first step is to figure out if you are eligible.

An image says stimulus payment.

You can check on the status of your payment. Image source: Getty Images.

Am I eligible for a stimulus payment?

Congress has set a pretty low bar for the coronavirus stimulus payments.

U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and resident aliens are likely eligible for an Economic Impact Payment if they meet all these requirements:

  • Have a valid Social Security number,
  • Could not be claimed as a dependent by another taxpayer, and
  • Had adjusted gross income under certain limits. 

Higher-income people -- individuals with an adjusted gross income over $75,000 ($112,500 for taxpayers filing as head of household or $150,000 for taxpayers filing a joint return) will see payments reduced by 5% for the amount your income exceeds those thresholds until you reach:

  • $198,000 for taxpayers filing a joint return
  • $136,500 for taxpayers filing as head of household
  • $99,000 for all others

To further complicate things, the income threshold increases by $10,000 for each qualifying child. Families also get $500 added to their payment for each child subject to the income restrictions, which are as below for a family with one child:

  • $208,000 for taxpayers filing a joint return
  • $146,500 for taxpayers filing as head of household
  • $109,000 for all others

You are still eligible for the payment if you are not required to file tax forms. If that's the case, though, you need to give the IRS your info using this tool. You should receive your payment automatically if you meet any of the following qualifications:

  • Individuals who filed a federal income tax for 2018 or 2019
  • Social Security retirement, disability (SSDI), survivor benefits, Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Recipients of Veterans Affairs benefits
  • Individuals who receive Railroad Retirement benefits

"Should," however, does not mean "will," and some people have found that they have not received their payments.

What do I do if I have not gotten my stimulus payment?

Only non-filers meeting the criteria above should use the tool meant for non-filers. The IRS makes that very clear on its website:

Do NOT use this tool if you will be filing a 2019 return. If you are required to file a return, using this tool will NOT speed up your Economic Impact Payment and will likely slow down processing of your tax return and receiving any refund.

For people who have filed at least their 2018 taxes, the IRS should have your info and you can use its "Get My Payment" tool to check the status of your check/direct deposit. This isn't a perfect system as many people using that receive a "Payment Status Not Available."

That can happen for a number of reasons including:

  • You are required to file a tax return, but:
    • We haven't finished processing your 2019 return
    • The application doesn't yet have your data; we're working on adding more data to allow more people to use

Information is updated once a day on the website during overnight hours. It's, of course, frustrating to learn that the reason may simply "we haven't gotten to you yet," but in some cases, that's the answer.

If you are required to file a tax return, you must file at least your 2019 forms in order to get a payment. Some people also have filed their taxes but have changed their bank account information or mailing address.

"If we don't have your direct deposit information from your 2018 or 2019 return -- and we haven't yet sent your payment -- use the Get My Payment application to let us know where to send your direct deposit," the IRS posted on its website.

If you have filed your 2019 taxes, your payment will go to the bank account or address used in that filing, it cannot be changed. For 2018 filers, who have yet filed for the most recent year, you can only update your info by filing your 2019 taxes.

Be diligent, be patient

It's frustrating to be expecting a check -- and maybe needing the money -- but not being able to find out exactly where yours is. Start by following the steps above. Making sure the IRS has what it needs from you can help the process along.

In some cases, though, you'll just have to be patient. The IRS may take time getting to you, or it may not be able to process your tax return (coronavirus has suspended processing of paper returns and some people, including those who have been the victim of identity theft, still have to file on paper (while others chose to before the pandemic).

Right now, all you can be is vigilant. Keep checking, and for most people, this will eventually be rectified. Right now, it's nearly impossible to get IRS help via phone, but that won't always be the case (eventually normal work conditions will return, IRS employees will return to work, and call volume will fall).

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