For most Americans, May 13 was the last day to provide their direct-deposit information to the IRS so they could get their coronavirus stimulus check put straight into their bank account. COVID-19 payments were authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act for short) and are worth as much as $1,200 per qualifying adult and $500 per eligible dependent.
If you missed out on providing your bank account details to the IRS, that doesn't mean you won't get your money. Here's what you may need to do.
Most people will get paper checks without doing anything
If you filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return or if you receive Social Security benefits, benefits from the Veterans Administration, or railroad retirement benefits, you don't need to do anything to get your money if you're eligible for it. The IRS has indicated most checks will be sent out by mid-June, so your check should come by early July at the latest if you haven't received it already.
Your check will go to the mailing address the IRS has on file for you based on your most recent tax return or benefits information. If that's an old address, you cannot update it online with the IRS due to fraud concerns. Fill out a forwarding-address form with the Postal Service ASAP if you haven't already.
But some people do need to give the IRS some details
If you haven't filed a tax return for the past two tax years and don't receive VA, Social Security, or railroad retirement benefits, you need to provide your financial details to the IRS so it's aware you're entitled to a payment.
You have two options: You can use a simple online form for nonfilers if you aren't required to submit a 2019 tax return. If you do need to file but haven't yet, you can send in your 2019 return (the IRS extended the deadline for last year's returns to July 15).
The IRS has warned not to use the nonfilers form if you plan to submit a 2019 return because doing so could slow down the processing of your return as well as delay any tax refund you're due.
You can also claim your money when you file your 2020 return
If you don't receive a stimulus payment and you're entitled to one, there's one other option: Claim it when you file your 2020 tax return.
The COVID-19 stimulus checks are an advanced payment of a special tax credit created by the CARES Act. The IRS is sending out the money now since most people need it immediately to weather the coronavirus crisis, but it can be claimed on a 1040 form just as with any other credit.
This is likely a last resort for most people since they won't be able to file a return and get their money until the IRS starts accepting 2020 tax forms sometime toward the end of January 2021. But it's better than not getting the money at all. And this is the only solution for people whose checks were for the wrong amount.
Don't leave money on the table
If you're still watching the mail for your check or need to give the IRS your information, you may also want to pay attention to proposals that would provide for additional stimulus funds. If the IRS is going to send a second round of checks, you may be able to provide direct-deposit details next time.