Yes, the stimulus check deadline is over. No, it doesn’t mean you won’t get your payment – CNET

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The IRS deadline to send out stimulus checks has passed. Now what?


Sarah Tew/CNET

The sprint to send second stimulus check payments of up to $600 per qualified adult and child dependent is officially over. A Jan. 15 deadline for the Treasury and IRS to automatically deliver checks to tens of millions of Americans, which was written into the text of December’s $900 billion stimulus bill, means the agencies can by law no longer issue checks by mail or deposit payment transfers directly into bank accounts.

If you’re one of the millions of people who got caught in the IRS’ direct deposit snafu, or who otherwise didn’t get a paper check or EIP card in the mail, what now? Does it mean you’re simply out of luck? Thankfully not. But claiming your missing stimulus money could get tricky. The IRS’ backup plan is now tightly bound to tax season — which won’t officially begun until Feb. 12.

We’ll explain everything you need to know, including three options to help trace your stimulus money, a calculator to make sure you can match your stimulus estimate to what you actually receive, and what we know about how filing a Recovery Rebate Credit with your 2020 federal tax return can dramatically slow down the arrival of your already-tardy stimulus claim — that includes any makeup payments for missing kids. (P.S. Here’s what to know about a third stimulus check.)

Your check or EIP card could still arrive in the mail next week, so track that first

The IRS and Treasury sent physical checks at a much faster clip than the first time around, but it isn’t clear how many remain undelivered. Since the USPS may need a few days to sort and deliver your physical check or EIP card, it may be possible you’ll receive it over the next few days, if the Treasury and IRS sent out a batch in the final hours before the Jan. 15 deadline.

However, we also know that with the first check, the US Treasury processed between 5 million and 7 million paper stimulus checks a week in addition to checks for other federal programs, according to a Government Accountability Office report from June. Given the 17 day window the IRS and Treasury have had to ship out payments, it seems inevitable that not everyone’s would’ve posted before the deadline.

The first thing you should do is use the IRS Get My Payment tool to get tracking information about your second stimulus check. It’ll give you a general payment schedule, the total amount you should expect to receive, and flag any problems you may need to look into — like if there’s an error message or if the tool says the stimulus money was sent weeks ago and you never got it.

Then, if the IRS Get My Payment tool says it’s coming, use this free USPS service to track your stimulus check to your mailbox


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Second stimulus checks: Everything you need to know

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It’s too late for direct deposit now, but there are some things you need to know

The IRS has said it sent 100 million stimulus checks through direct deposit this time around, a payment method that allows the agency to process many more payments faster. However, the IRS’ tracking tool didn’t let people sign up for or change their direct deposit information this time around. And some people reported problems with checks being sent to the wrong bank account, which means millions haven’t been able to receive their stimulus payments that way. 

If the IRS doesn’t already have your banking information, you’ll have no choice but to wait for the mail. If there’s a problem with your payment, you’ll need to file a claim during tax time (more below.) If you didn’t get your second stimulus check this way, but want to receive a future third stimulus check through direct deposit, you’ll want to register with the IRS on your 2020 tax return.

You can set up a payment trace with the IRS for your check

Another way to track your missing stimulus check is through a payment trace. This gets a bit complicated, but we have a guide to walk you through the IRS payment trace process. There are several scenarios that could apply to you, but it boils down to the IRS saying it sent a stimulus check you never received.

You can’t claim your missing money until Feb. 12 at the earliest

Here’s the bad news. If you’re missing either a whole or partial stimulus check — we recommend using the first stimulus calculator and second stimulus calculator to get an estimate — you’ll need to use the Recovery Rebate Credit as part of 2020 Tax Season to claim the money. Any credit would either offset the amount you owe, or get bundled into your tax refund.

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When you get your stimulus money could depend on who you are.


Sarah Tew/CNET

The longer you wait to file your taxes, the longer you wait for your stimulus money

After the cutoff, the timing of your stimulus check delivery is now inextricably linked to your taxes. Feb. 12 is the first day you can file your taxes, including the Recovery Rebate Credit to get your errant second stimulus payment, but you’ll have until April 15 to file taxes, and some people may request a tax extension beyond that.

How soon you submit your taxes for 2020 could have a direct effect on how quickly the IRS will be able to process your return. People who file their returns in February would likely receive their stimulus check credit months before people who wait until the April 15 deadline or longer.

If you moved, you have to tell the IRS and USPS, too

 If you’ve recently moved, be sure to tell the IRS and USPS so you can get any stimulus money owed to you (and a third stimulus check, too). You’ll also need your updated address on file so you can receive your confirmation letter from the IRS (you’ll need this if you have to file a claim.)

The IRS really doesn’t want to take your phone call

Sorry, it’s true. In May 2020, the IRS hired 3,500 telephone operators to help field incoming calls about the first stimulus check. Now its website implores you not to call. 

“Please do not call the IRS about the new payment; our phone assistors do not have additional information beyond what’s available here on IRS.gov and in the Get My Payment application,” the IRS website says.

Here’s what the agency wants you to do instead, including initiating a payment trace (see above).

What if you receive Social Security benefits, are an older adult, don’t file taxes, are incarcerated or are in a child support scenario?

There may be some specific scenarios that have different specific rules or exceptions. We’re trying to find answers with the IRS, but until then, here’s what we know about stimulus check money in general for:

For more information, here are the most important stimulus check details to know, here’s how a third stimulus check might happen, all the ways it could bring you more money and how to calculate your share of a $2,000 check.