October 31, 2020

Follow these steps to report your missing IRS stimulus payment


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What’s the right way to report a missing stimulus check to the IRS? We’ll tell you.


Angela Lang/CNET

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If your stimulus payment never arrived and you think that it might have gotten lost or stolen, it might be time to get in touch with the Internal Revenue Service. You should only call the IRS as a last resort, however, and there are certain details you should have nearby if you do end up calling the federal agency.

There are a number of common reasons why your stimulus check may be missing. Perhaps the IRS had an old address or bank account number for you; these scenarios would prevent you from receiving your check or direct deposit. Or maybe the letter that contained your check or prepaid debit card was accidentally thrown away. (See more reasons why your stimulus check could be missing.)

Below, we’ve listed our suggestions on how to proceed if your payment hasn’t arrived. We can also tell you how much money might be in a second economic impact payment, who might qualify, and when the second payment might actually get to you. This story is updated frequently.


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Is it time to report your late stimulus check to the IRS?

If you’re certain you meet the qualifications of the first stimulus check, these are warning signs that you should contact the IRS right now:

  • The Get My Payment tracking tool reports the IRS made your payment weeks ago and you haven’t received it (see below).
  • You received a confirmation letter from the IRS that your payment was sent, but you didn’t get the funds.
  • You think you accidentally threw your prepaid card or check in the trash (see below).
  • You suspect someone stole your check or otherwise defrauded you.

Keep reading for more on these issues and for phone numbers to call to contact the IRS.

Did you get your IRS confirmation letter, but not the check?

A handful of CNET readers report that the IRS sent them a letter confirming their payment but that they’ve not received their check. 

“Last week I got a letter in the mail saying that I received my payment. But, no, I have not,” a CNET reader had reported after getting the confirmation letter the IRS sends out 15 days after it sends the payment. 

The IRS did not respond to our question about how it handles payments reported to have been sent but that people say are missing.

You might need to file another IRS form

If you filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return or receive government benefits, the IRS should automatically send your check without you having to do anything. 

If, however, you’re a US citizen or permanent resident, had a gross income in 2019 under $12,200 — or $24,400 as a married couple — and didn’t file a return for 2018 or 2019, you may need to give the IRS a bit of information before it can process your payment. Head to the Non-Filers site and see if the IRS needs something from you.

The nonfilers tool will be available till Oct. 15, the IRS told CNET, and people who register for a payment using the tool before then will receive their check by the end of the year.

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Is your stimulus check inside?


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Did you use the IRS Get My Payment tracking portal?

It’s worth visiting the IRS’ online portal designed to track the status of your 2020 payment. Generally, it should tell you when your check will be processed and how you’ll receive it (for example, as a paper check in the mail). If the Get My Payment tool doesn’t give you information you can understand or says your check is on the way and you haven’t received it, you may need to eventually report the discrepancy to the IRS. 

Did you get a ‘Need More Information’ message from Get My Payment app?

If the Get My Payment tool gave you a payment date but you still haven’t received your money, the IRS may need more information. Check the Get My Payment tool again and if it reports “Need More Information,” this could indicate that your check has been returned because the post office was unable to deliver it, an IRS representative told CNET.

After you see the “Need More Information” message, the online tool will let you enter your banking information to receive your payment straight to your bank account. The IRS said If you don’t provide your bank account information, the agency will hold your payment till it receives a current mailing address. Head to the IRS change-address page for how to update your address with the IRS.

Could you have accidentally thrown your check or debit card in the trash?

Four million people will receive their stimulus money on a prepaid debit card called the Economic Impact Payment Card, instead of a paper check. The EIP card arrives in a plain envelope, the IRS said, with “Money Network Cardholder Services” as the sender. 

Some people, taking it for junk mail, may have mistakenly thrown these letters away. If you’ve misplaced or thrown away your card, the EIP card service has an FAQ on what to do if your card is lost or stolen. You can also call 800-240-8100 to request a replacement. It’s free, according to a spokesperson for the Treasury Department. To request a new card, press option 2 when prompted. 

However, the EIP card website says, “Your Card will be deactivated to prevent anyone from using it and a new replacement Card will be ordered. Fees may apply.”

We recommend calling the above number for a lost or stolen card and speaking to a representative.

Did the IRS send your check to a closed account? 

Your check may have bounced back to the IRS if the agency tried to send your payment to a now-closed bank account or to a temporary prepaid debit card a tax preparer set up for you. If your payment was returned to the IRS, the agency will mail your check to the current address it has on file for you.


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Did the federal government intercept your payment?

If you owe child support, the IRS can redirect your payment to cover past-due support. The Bureau of the Fiscal Service will send you a notice if this happens.

Was your payment a portion of what you think you’re owed? 

A different, but related, issue could be a change in your income in 2020. In some cases, the IRS may owe you more money than you received if the income figure used to calculate your payment from your tax returns in 2018 or 2019 is less in 2020. 

Likewise, if you now have a new dependent, such as a child, who isn’t reflected on your tax returns, you may be owed more money. In either case, the IRS said, you can claim the additional amount on your 2020 tax return when you file next year. We recommend keeping a detailed record so you don’t forget.

Did someone steal it from your mailbox or defraud you?

Though it’s uncommon, you may believe you’ve been scammed out of your payment or had it stolen. The Federal Trade Commission has a website where you can report a stolen stimulus check. We’ve asked the IRS what other recourse you have if this situation applies to you and we’ll update this article when we hear back. If you’re worried about theft, you can sign up for a free USPS service that will send you a picture of every piece of mail coming your way — including your stimulus payment.

How to call the IRS to ask about your late stimulus check

If you do reach out to the IRS over the phone, it’s a good idea to give yourself plenty of time for the call. We wouldn’t be surprised if call volumes are up, or if conversations take some time. It’s also a smart idea to gather your information in front of you, like a copy of your most recent tax ID and the letter that the IRS sent if you received one. 

Within 15 days after it sends out your payment, the IRS should mail you a letter confirming the payment. At the bottom of the letter is a number you can call for more information: 800-919-9835.

In May, the IRS added 3,500 telephone representatives to help with potential problems regarding payments. The IRS help number is 800-829-1040.





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