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3 Reasons Your Stimulus Payment May Be Delayed

By Maurie Backman - Apr 20, 2020 at 6:18AM

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Eagerly anticipating your stimulus cash? Here's why you could end up waiting longer.

Ever since COVID-19 took hold in the U.S., it's been battering the economy and driving millions of Americans into unemployment. To provide relief, lawmakers passed a $2 trillion stimulus package in late March that, among other things, calls for a $1,200 lump sum payment for anyone whose income falls below a certain threshold.

At first, it was unclear as to when Americans would receive their money, and some experts worried it wouldn't go out until May at the earliest. But actually, millions of people have been issued a stimulus payment already via direct deposit, as they started going out the week of April 13.

Man at laptop holding his arms up as if frustrated

IMAGE SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES.

But what if you're still missing your money? If that's the case, here are a few reasons why your stimulus cash may be taking longer to arrive.

1. You didn't file a tax return for 2018 or 2019 -- or you filed one but didn't get a refund

If you filed your 2018 or 2019 taxes, were due a refund, and signed up to receive that money via direct deposit, you may already be sitting on your stimulus payment. But if you didn't file a 2018 or 2019 tax return, or you filed one but weren't due a refund and therefore didn't include bank account details, then you'll need to give the IRS that information so your stimulus payment can be processed quickly. Thankfully, the IRS has launched a new tool that lets you input your bank details and effectively register for your stimulus payment -- but don't delay, or you'll have to wait on your money even longer.

2. Your money went to an old bank account

The most recent bank account information the IRS has on file will be used to determine where your stimulus payment should land. But if you've since closed that account, any stimulus money that gets sent there will be bounced back, thereby delaying your payment. Again, using the above tool to update your bank account details is a smart move -- one that could get you your money sooner.

3. You're still waiting on a physical check

If the IRS doesn't have bank account details for you on file, and you have no intention of providing direct deposit information, then you'll need to wait for a physical stimulus check to arrive in your mailbox. And that could take a while. It's anticipated that physical checks will start getting sent out in early May, but only a certain number will be issued per week. Meanwhile, those paper checks will be prioritized so that low-income households receive them first, and all told, it could take up to 20 weeks to mail all of them out. That means you could be stimulus-free for quite some time if you're not a particularly low earner.

If your income has been cut by COVID-19, you probably need a stimulus more than ever. If that's the case, take the time to update the IRS with your banking details so you're not left scrambling to pay your bills while you wait for that money to arrive.

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