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

Negotiations to authorize a second stimulus payment may once again pick up steam as soon as next week. But if you find yourself still waiting for the stimulus check that was authorized back in March, we can help you figure out what may have happened. 

The bottom line: don’t panic quite yet. The IRS will continue to send the first batch of direct payments through Dec. 31 this year, but people considered “nonfilers” must claim their payment by Nov. 21 at 12 p.m. PT/3 p.m. ET (more on this below).

We may also help you solve the issue holding up delivery of your check. If you moved, it’s possible that your check was lost in the mail. The direct deposit could have been rejected for one reason or another. Maybe you thought you met the eligibility rules, but actually don’t, or perhaps it was stolen (which is rare, but does happen). 

Below, we’ve pinpointed 9 reasons that you may not have gotten that first stimulus payment and suggest steps to follow if you are worried that your payment will never come. Be aware that stimulus check scams abound — you may be targeted even if there’s no second payment yet. We updated this story recently.

Are you completely sure you meet the eligibility requirements?

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.

Now playing:
Watch this:

Next stimulus checks: What to expect


Read carefully: You may need to file a nonfilers form 

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 tell the USPS and IRS 

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 was garnished to cover unpaid debts

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 by the end of 2020

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 IRS doesn’t have your current banking information 

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 couldn’t process 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 doesn’t qualify 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 be the victim of a scam

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.


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *