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This is how to get the stimulus money you’re owed

Published Aug 20th, 2020 1:08PM EDT
Stimulus check
Image: Pamela Au/Adobe
  • Despite the fact that Congress has already started the task of working on a new coronavirus stimulus bill, many Americans are still waiting to receive their first stimulus check.
  • Here are the steps to make sure you receive your check from the IRS, if you fall in this category.
  • The checks are an important piece of the recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, which has caused millions of Americans to lose their job.

One of the realities that the recent stimulus-related legislative stalemate in Congress can obscure is the fact that, while no one is getting a new stimulus check anytime soon, there’s apparently still a not-insignificant number of people out there who are waiting to receive their first stimulus check.

This is a fact that, again, hasn’t been talked about enough despite the fact that lawmakers some six months or so since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in the US are trying to pass a second stimulus bill that would fund yet another wave of direct payments to Americans. The amounts we’re talking about are massive — at least $1,200 checks to tens of millions of Americans (regarding the first stimulus payment alone, more than 130 million Americans got checks in the first four weeks, according to the IRS). What about those of you still waiting for that first check, though?

It should probably go without saying, but, first, make sure you actually qualified for a payment. Luckily, there’s a simple way you can check. You qualify for the full $1,200 if your adjusted gross income is no more than $75,000 (or up to $150,000 for a married couple, which would qualify the couple for $2,400). Above those income thresholds, the stimulus check amounts phase out.

If you haven’t gotten your payment yet, click the “Get My Payment” button on this IRS webpage. That page takes you to frequently asked questions and answers that might help your situation. It will also let you get your payment status, see your payment type, and provide your bank account information in some cases. One important thing to also be aware of is that data is updated once per day overnight, so there’s no need to check back more than once per day.

Another important fact to note: According to the tax agency, even if this webpage says you’re getting a stimulus check, your payment might actually come in the form of a debit card with the payment pre-loaded on it. Keep an eye on your mail, because that card would arrive in a plain envelope addressed from “Money Network Cardholder Services” that some people have accidentally thrown away because it looks like junk mail.

If you didn’t file taxes in 2018 or 2019 (which is what the IRS is using as a basis for most peoples’ stimulus checks) then this next part is for you. Head to the IRS’ Non-filer tool to input your information and claim your stimulus payment. It’s a free tool that lets the IRS “identify you and your dependents, and receive valid direct deposit and address information about you.” 

Some instances in which you should not use the non-filer tool include if you just filed a 2019 federal income tax return or earned more than $12,200 for the year ($24,400 for married couples). Also, don’t use this tool if you collect Social Security retirement, disability, survivor benefits, Supplemental Security Income, or Veterans Affairs benefits, because the IRS will automatically send your payment in those cases.

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.

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