Stimulus Check Update: Some People Won't See a Second Stimulus Check Before Tax Time

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Here's the latest on stimulus checks -- and why some people will experience a delay in getting their money.

After months of negotiations, lawmakers finally came to terms on a $900 billion coronavirus relief bill that includes a much-needed direct stimulus payment worth $600 per adult or dependent child. Given that Americans have been waiting since the spring for that money, it's practically a lifeline for some people -- especially those who are unemployed or have seen their income take a hit in the course of the pandemic.

But the IRS has just announced that some stimulus recipients may end up waiting a while before they see their money come in. In fact, a number of people may not be able to access their stimulus cash until they file their 2020 tax returns.

The money's already on its way -- but not for everyone

The aforementioned coronavirus relief bill was signed into law on Dec. 27, and to the IRS's credit, it was able to start moving on stimulus payments immediately afterward. In fact, recipients for whom the IRS had bank account details on record may have already gotten their stimulus money via direct deposit. The IRS has also begun issuing paper checks, which can only be sent in batches and are going out to people who don't have direct deposit details on file with the agency.

At the same time, the IRS's Get My Payment tool is now up and running, so those who haven't seen their stimulus funds come in yet can go online and check the status of their payments. But here's the bad news -- some people are accessing that tool and getting a message that states "Payment Status #2 – Not Available." If that's the message you get, it means you won't be getting your second stimulus payment via direct deposit or in the mail. Rather, you'll need to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit on your 2020 tax return (which is the return due by April of 2021) in order to get your stimulus money.

You may land in a similar boat if your stimulus payment went to the wrong bank account. What'll generally happen in that case is the bank that payments lands in will reject it, and then the IRS will get its money back and issue you a check. But if there's a snag and a check isn't sent out, you'll need to claim your stimulus payment as part of your 2020 tax return.

Keep in mind that while 2020 taxes aren't due until April 15 this year, the IRS generally begins accepting returns in late January. If you file your taxes electronically and are due a refund that includes your stimulus cash, you could receive it within three weeks of submitting your return. If you sign up for direct deposit at that point, you'll further expedite the process. As such, it pays to keep an eye out for your stimulus payment and get moving on your taxes if you don't have that money -- or at least an estimated payment date from the IRS's Get My Payment tool -- by the end of January. It's bad enough the public has had to wait months to get that second round, and the last thing you need is an added delay.

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