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$600 stimulus: What to do if payment isn't received or is less than expected

The IRS said that anyone who doesn't receive an economic impact payment, or doesn't get the right amount, should claim it on their 2020 tax returns.

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service has been sending out economic impact payments to qualified Americans, but what happens if someone doesn't get a check or the right amount?

The first payments -- $600 for most individual Americans -- started going out last week and will continue through mid-January. The IRS said that direct payments were sent first, and paper checks and debit cards are following behind in the mail.

The agency said if someone has not received a full stimulus payment by the time they file their 2020 tax return, they can claim the "recovery rebate credit" on their tax return.

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"The credit is figured like the Economic Impact Payment, except that the credit eligibility and the credit amount are based on the 2020 tax year information, including income," according to the IRS.

For anyone who only received a partial economic impact payment, they can take the recovery rebate credit for any remaining amount they’re eligible for by completing line 30 of the 2020 Form 1040 or 1040-SR.

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Generally, the recovery rebate credit will increase the amount someone gets as a tax refund or lower the amount of the tax they owe.

Since the IRS is sending out the second round of payments so quickly, some payments might be sent to a bank account that may be closed or no longer active. The IRS said, by law, the "financial institution must return the payment to the IRS, they cannot hold and issue the payment to an individual when the account is no longer active."

The IRS is still working out how to correct the payments that were sent to a closed account.

To track the status of the payments, the IRS re-launched the Get My Payment tool Monday. But there may be some delays initially due to high demand. The program was taken offline for several days before it could offer information about the second coronavirus stimulus check.

Eligible Americans will automatically receive an economic impact payment of up to $600 for individuals or $1,200 for married couples, and up to $600 for each qualifying child. Most people who have an adjusted gross income for 2019 of up to $75,000 for individuals and up to $150,000 for married couples filing joint returns and surviving spouses, will receive the full amount of the second payment.

For filers with income above those amounts, the payment amount is reduced.

Here is a tool from Omni Calculator that may help you determine how much you might receive:

Are you having problems getting your second payment or checking its status? You're not alone — some say their payment went to the wrong bank account. Others say they didn't get enough money. 

H&R Block customers experiencing payment delays or missing payments

People that have their tax refund checks sent directly to their bank account automatically get their stimulus check from the government to that account number. However, H&R Block customers that used the Refund Transfer option in 2019 may have had their stimulus sent to that temporary account. The company says they are investigating why this happened. 

H&R Block posted online saying in part, "If you took a Refund Transfer, it may be reflecting that account number. Check your 2019 return to confirm." "But don’t worry – we have sent these payments on to the method you chose for Refund Transfer: direct deposit, check, or Emerald Card. The money should be there by the end of the day."

However, many are saying they still didn't receive their payment at the end of the day when this started on Monday, or they only received a part of their payment.

The company added that if the IRS Get My Payment website displays an account number an H&R Block customer doesn’t recognize, H&R Block is ready to help with additional information at 800-HRBLOCK and 1-866-353-1266 for Emerald Card.

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IRS stimulus check tracker shows payment status not available

In short, the IRS says - like the first time around - this message indicates there was some kind of issue using or getting the data from your 2019 return, which is what stimulus payments are based on.

Here's the official Dec. 2020 statement from the IRS about this message:

The Get My Payment application will return "Payment Status Not Available" for several reasons, including:

  • You’re required to file a tax return, but
    • we haven't finished processing your 2019 return 
  • You don't usually file a return, and
    • you used Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here but we haven’t processed your entry yet
  • You’re not eligible for a payment (see EIP Eligibility and General Information).

We update Get My Payment data once per day, overnight so there’s no need to check more often. If you’re  eligible for a payment and provided your information either through a recent tax return or the Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here application, please check back for updates.

Payment went to the wrong account

According to the IRS website, your payment information cannot be changed. If you don’t get a payment and you are eligible to receive one, it may be claimed on your 2020 tax return as the Recovery Rebate Credit.

Be aware that some people have reported their second stimulus payment, like their first, went to their tax preparer instead of their personal checking account. If you used a third-party company to help you file your 2019 taxes and get a refund — you may want to reach out to them. Be aware, however customer support phonelines currently have a long wait.

H&R Block is among those companies confirming some of its customers were impacted by this issue (as noted in the section above). 

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