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Where’s my stimulus check? 4 reasons why it hasn’t arrived yet

Published Apr 17th, 2020 12:06PM EDT
Stimulus check status
Image: ERIK S LESSER/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
  • The IRS has started the process of sending out coronavirus stimulus checks after the Trump administration decided that direct payments to Americans would be a major part of the massive coronavirus relief legislation passed by Congress.
  • If you’re among the Americans wondering “Where’s my stimulus check?” right now, here are some reasons why your payment may have been delayed.
  • Visit BGR’s homepage for more stories.

One of the many tangible pieces of evidence that we’re living through bizarre and uncertain times right now is the fact that because the deadly COVID-19 coronavirus has sparked such a catastrophic slowdown in the US economy, we’re all waiting on checks (or direct bank deposits) of at least $1,200 from Uncle Sam.

What an insane sentence to write, to think that this is America circa April 2020. But here we are — tens of millions of Americans out of work right now, and the government is printing money to give everyone at least a little something to make it easier to bear some of the hardship. Which brings us to the question on most peoples’ minds: What’s the status of your stimulus check? The IRS released an online tool this week allowing you to check, but if yours hasn’t arrived yet, here are a handful of reasons why that might be the case.

According to the IRS, millions of people have already gotten their stimulus check, and millions of others have been checking the online tool to see when theirs will arrive:

Meanwhile, here are some reasons why yours might not have arrived yet:

You filed a tax return for last year — but it was a paper return

The IRS will be using your most return tax return to assess your eligibility for the check as well as to figure out how to get the money to you (such as if it has your banking information on file). However, that will go the quickest for people who e-file. If you submitted a paper tax filing for 2019, be aware that the IRS is like most businesses and agencies in the US right now and dealing with employees working remotely. As a result, employees aren’t in the office to process paper returns that have come in, in which case you’ll be waiting on a paper check to be delivered through the mail, which will take longer.

You haven’t gotten a tax refund in recent years

Be aware: Just because you electronically filed your taxes last year, that doesn’t mean the IRS has what it needs to direct deposit a check into your bank account. You need to also have received a refund, in which case the IRS would already have bank information on file for you. Also, if you owed money to the IRS after filing last year’s taxes and paid it, you might be thinking, “Well, that means they have my bank details, right?” No — the IRS isn’t using information from people it’s withdrawn money from in order to figure out where to send the direct deposits.

The IRS deposited the money into an old bank account

By now, it should be clear — if the IRS has banking details for you, that’s what the agency is using. Even if those details are out of date.

The IRS’ new Get My Payment online tool allows you to make sure the agency has your bank details up-to-date. It seems that the worst that will happen is the IRS sends the money to the wrong account, it gets bounced bank, and you’ll be stuck waiting for a check in the mail, which takes longer.

You don’t make enough income to file taxes

Some Americans actually aren’t required to file taxes (if they didn’t earn more than $12,200 last year, or more than $24,400 for married couples). In that case, they do need to take some actions to get their stimulus money. Visit the online tool area specifically for non-filers and give the IRS basic details like your name, date of birth and Social Security number (you don’t have to file a return). The IRS will use that information to send out your money.

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.