As reported by cnet,

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

Sarah Tew/CNET

The IRS and US Treasury needed just a couple of days to start sending the second stimulus checks. The IRS said it began making direct-deposit payments Dec. 29 and mailing paper checks and EIP cards Dec. 30. Congress assigned a tight Jan. 15 deadline for these $600 stimulus payments, however. After that, people who qualify for a second stimulus check but have not received it can claim their money as a recovery rebate credit when they file their taxes this year.

We know that pitfalls exist. When the IRS opens up its online tracking tool again, you’ll be able to see the status of your second stimulus check, including any clues if something is awry. The online status portal is temporarily offline, but we can draw on what we learned from the first round of payments to guide you through some common issues that may arise.

If you moved, for example, it’s possible that your check was sent to an old address the IRS has on file. Or the direct deposit could have been rejected by your bank. Perhaps you thought you met the eligibility rules, but actually don’t, or perhaps your payment was stolen (which is rare, but has happened). We’ve pinpointed 10 possible pitfalls to keep an eye on.

The IRS couldn’t process it by Jan. 15

We have no doubt that the IRS and US Treasury is scrambling to meet the Jan. 15 deadline to process payments. But with tens of millions of payments to work through in a total of 17 days (from Dec. 29 through Jan. 15, including weekends), we can guess that some stimulus checks may not make the final sprint. In that case, you will need to claim your missing money through the IRS’ Recovery Rebate Credit during tax season.

Are you sure you meet the eligibility requirements?

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 the formula to calculate your payment. You can check out our second stimulus check calculator to see how it works.

There are also situations that apply to tens of millions of people that can change a payment one way or another, including:

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

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Second stimulus checks: Everything you need to know


The IRS may need more information from you

With the first round of checks, the majority of payments went out automatically. And the IRS said that will be the case for this second round as well.

With the first checks, however, millions of people who were eligible needed to take an extra step to get a missing payment, by using an online app the IRS called the Non-Filers tool. The IRS closed the tool Nov. 21, however.

Now, those who the IRS defines as a “non-filer” and didn’t receive what they are owed either with the first or second stimulus check can claim it as a “Recovery Rebate Credit” when they file their 2020 federal income tax return. Here some of the people who may fall into this non-filers category:

You moved and need to tell the USPS and IRS 

If you moved, the IRS could be using an older address it has on file and doesn’t know where to send your paper check or EIP debit card. You may need to call the IRS to report your missing check. Here’s how to change your address and inform the IRS. While the IRS has not yet said how it will handle this situation for the second checks, you may need to claim your missing payment on your taxes this year if this is your case.


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

Angela Lang/CNET

Your stimulus check was mistakenly garnished to cover unpaid debts

With the first check, there were several situations where your check could be diverted to cover certain debts, including to cover past-due child support.

For the second check, Congress did away with many of the situations where creditors and debt collectors could garnish your payment — including to pay back child support — but your bank may still be able to use your second check to cover overdraft fees.

The IRS doesn’t have your current banking information 

For the first check, the IRS used banking information from your 2018 or 2019 tax return to send your payment. For the second check, the IRS said it is using just your 2019 tax return.

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 had for you with the first check, the agency said the payment was returned and reprocessed.

While the IRS has not provided information on how it will handle this situation for second checks, we recommend checking the Get My Payment tool once it is available again, and if you don’t receive your payment requesting it when you file your federal taxes this year.


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

Sarah Tew/CNET

Your bank couldn’t process the direct deposit

With the first check, if your bank couldn’t process the electronic money transfer from the IRS, the payment was returned to the IRS, which mailed the check to the most current address it has on file, either from a 2019 or 2018 tax return or one from the Postal Service. Again, the IRS has not said how it will handle this situation for second checks and recommends claiming a missing payment on your taxes this year.

A claimed dependent doesn’t qualify for a payment

In general, 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

There is a loophole, however, that applied to the first stimulus check that allowed non-married parents in child support situations, filing separately, who claimed a dependent in alternate years to each receive the $500 payment per qualified dependent. Confusing, yes. It isn’t clear if that would also apply to the $600-per-child in the second stimulus check.

You may have thrown away the envelope with your payment

With the first payment, some reported accidentally throwing out the envelope containing their check, not recognizing it contained their stimulus payment. The IRS recommends you watch your mail for a white envelope with the US Department of the Treasury seal. If you receive a prepaid debit card, it will have the Visa name on the front of the card and the issuing bank, MetaBank, N.A., on the back.

You may be the victim of a scam

The FBI and IRS warn that scammers are looking to steal your stimulus check. We have a guide for how to guard against and report these attacks. With the first checks, the IRS sent a letter notifying you that the agency had sent your money — with details on whether it came through the mail or straight to your bank — and with information on how to report that the money didn’t arrive. The IRS said it is sending a similar letter with payment for the second checks.

As you try to discover the status of your stimulus check, here’s what we know about who qualifies, how much you could expect and how to get an estimate of how much to expect.

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