November 25, 2020
Yes, the IRS is still sending stimulus checks. 9 reasons you didn't get yours and what to do

Yes, the IRS is still sending stimulus checks. 9 reasons you didn’t get yours and what to do


Don’t know where your stimulus money is? We can help.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Talks of a second stimulus check are growing more urgent by the day, but if you’re still wondering where your “first” stimulus check is from all the way back in April when the IRS first began sending them out, we can help you figure out why it’s delayed. Not all is lost. The IRS will continue to send the first batch of direct payments through Dec. 31 this year. 

In fact, you may be one of the millions of people who can still claim yours up until Nov. 21 at 12 p.m. PT (3 p.m. ET). More on this below.

It’s also possible that your check was lost in the mail if you moved or the direct deposit was rejected for one reason or another. Maybe you thought you met the qualification requirements, but actually don’t. And while it’s less likely, someone might have swiped it from your mailbox.

We’ll take you through some possibilities and suggest action you can take to get more information, like how to contact the IRS if you worry your payment will never come. Also, and we can’t stress this enough, beware of stimulus check scams — you may be targeted even if there’s no second payment yet. And here’s the latest update on a second stimulus check and how much money it could bring. This story updates often.

Are you 100% sure you are or aren’t eligible?

We’re going to level with you. Stimulus check qualifications are a lot thornier and more complex than they may seem. It isn’t enough to qualify if your total AGI, or adjusted gross income, meets the monetary limits to qualify for a check. That’s the tax-related income figure the IRS uses as part of a formula to help determine how much stimulus money to give you.

There are also a lot of special cases that apply to tens of millions of people, including details such as:

Here’s who might not qualify for a second stimulus check.

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Next stimulus checks: What to expect


You may need to file a nonfilers form (read carefully!)

The majority of stimulus checks arrived automatically, without you having to lift a finger. But millions of people who are eligible need to take one extra step to get their full payment, or to recover a partial payment that’s mistakenly missing. Your deadline is Nov. 21 at 12 p.m. PT if you’d like to get your check this year. Otherwise, you can claim it around tax season 2021, which is months away. 

Some people who can file for a stimulus check using the nonfilers tool include:

In May, the IRS added 3,500 telephone representatives to help navigate common issues. They won’t, however, be able to help with specific problems with your payment.

You moved and need to inform the IRS and USPS

If you recently moved, it could be that the IRS didn’t know where to send along your paper check or EIP debit card, or that your physical check was otherwise lost in the shuffle. You may need to call the IRS to report your missing check. Here’s how to change your address and inform the IRS, to avoid missing a future second stimulus check.


If you’ve moved, let the IRS and USPS know.

Angela Lang/CNET

Your stimulus check has been garnished

For the most part, you have right when it comes to your stimulus check, but there are two circumstances we know of where your check may be diverted to cover certain debts (your rent or mortgage aren’t among them).

The IRS still plans to send your check before Jan. 1, 2021

The agency may be correcting an error or is still processing your payment. We recommend using the IRS’ Get My Payment tracking tool to see if a payment is scheduled. If so, you could consider signing up for the USPS’ free mail-tracking tool to find out when your payment will arrive in your mailbox.

The banking information the IRS has on file is outdated or invalid

The IRS said it’s using banking information from your 2018 or 2019 tax return to send your payment. Some tax preparers, however, set up temporary accounts for their clients to receive their returns, such as to a prepaid debit card. If this is the information the IRS has for you, the agency said the payment will be returned and reprocessed.

If for whatever reason, the banking information the IRS has for you is not valid, the agency says it will mail your check. The IRS said to check its Get My Payment tool for updates. If the post office returns the mailed check as well, you need to give the IRS your current mailing address or bank account.


Is your stimulus check hung up? Make sure you check out all possible scenarios.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Your bank had issues processing the direct deposit

If your bank couldn’t process the electronic money transfer from the IRS, the payment was returned and the IRS is now mailing your check to the most current address it has on file, either from a 2019 or 2018 tax return or one from the Postal Service.

A claimed dependent is not eligible for a payment

Parents who are not married to each other and do not file a joint return cannot claim a qualifying child as a dependent. The parent who claimed their child on their 2019 return may receive the payment. Likewise, dependent college students do not qualify for a payment.

You may have been scammed

The FBI warns that scammers are looking to steal your stimulus check. We have a guide for how to guard against and report these attacks. If you receive a letter from the IRS notifying you that the agency has already sent your money — with details on whether it came through the mail or straight to your bank — but you didn’t get the payment, the letter includes information on how to report that the money didn’t arrive.

As you try to discover the status of your stimulus check, here’s what we know about how to contact the IRS if you think your check is a no-show, the latest with a second round of stimulus checks and how best to use your stimulus check when it comes.

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