Stimulus Check Update: 9 Million Americans Could Still Claim a Payment

The IRS is sending out letters to people who didn't file a 2018 or 2019 tax return encouraging them to claim a stimulus check if they're eligible.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The IRS will soon start mailing letters to roughly 9 million people who typically don't file federal income tax returns who may be eligible for, but have not registered to claim, a stimulus check from the government. The letters will urge recipients to register online by October 15 in order to receive their payment before the end of the year. You can receive up to $1,200 ($2,400 for married couples), plus an extra $500 for each child under age 17 at the end of 2019.

The letters are being sent to people who haven't filed a tax return for either 2018 or 2019. In many cases, that means people with incomes that aren't high enough to trigger the tax return filing requirement. In other words, single people with income below $12,200 and married couples with income under $24,400. This includes people who are homeless. Nevertheless, many people in this income group are still eligible to receive a stimulus check.

The IRS letter is written in English and Spanish and includes information on eligibility criteria and how you can claim a payment on (opens in new tab). The mailing will begin around September 24, and the letter will be delivered from an IRS address. To help address fraud concern, the IRS released a copy of the letter in advance (click here (opens in new tab) to see the letter).

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If you don't act by October 15, you can still get your money if you're eligible for a check – but you'll have to wait until next year and claim it as a tax credit on your 2020 income tax return.

How to Claim Your Payment

The best way to claim your stimulus check is to register by October 15 using the IRS's Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here (opens in new tab) tool. If you use the IRS tool, you'll be asked to provide your:

  • Full name, current mailing address, phone number and email address;
  • Date of birth;
  • Marital status;
  • Social Security number (and spouse's number, if applicable);
  • Bank account number, type and routing number if you want payment by direct deposit;
  • Identity Protection Personal Identification Number (IP PIN), if you have one; and
  • Driver's license or state-issued ID number, if you have one.

To get an extra $500 for a qualifying child who is 16 years old or younger, you will also need to provide his or her name, Social Security number or Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number, and his or her relationship to you or your spouse.

Anyone using the IRS tool can speed up the arrival of their payment by choosing to receive it by direct deposit. If you don't choose this option, you will get a paper check in the mail. Also, two weeks after you register, you can track the status of your payment using the IRS's Get My Payment (opens in new tab) tool.

Note that if you're eligible to receive special tax benefits, such as the earned income tax credit or child tax credit, you can't use the online registration tool. Instead, you need to file a regular tax return as soon as possible. The IRS will use the information on your return to determine and issue any stimulus payment you are entitled to receive.

If you're unable or unwilling to use the online tool, you can submit a "simplified" paper return. See How to Get a Stimulus Check if You Don't File a Tax Return for more information.

Eligibility for a Stimulus Check

Just because you receive a letter does not necessarily mean you're going to get a stimulus check. You still have to be eligible for one. You're likely eligible if you are a U.S. citizen or resident alien, have a Social Security number, and can't be claimed as dependent on someone else's federal income tax return. However, there can be other situations that affect your eligibility. For details, see Who's Not Getting a Stimulus Check (Or Has to Return It).

State-by-State Breakdown of People Getting a Letter

The IRS released the following state-by-state breakdown of the people who will be receiving a letter from the IRS urging them to register for a stimulus check.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
StateState Postal CodeTotal Number of Letters
Armed Forces AmericasAA522
Armed Forces Non-AmericasAE3,096
Armed Forces PacificAP2,177
District of ColumbiaDC33,964
New HampshireNH29,680
New JerseyNJ216,145
New MexicoNM72,333
New YorkNY537,726
North CarolinaNC245,623
North DakotaND19,596
Rhode IslandRI24,686
South CarolinaSC142,382
South DakotaSD19,391
West VirginiaWV27,788
TotalRow 55 - Cell 1 8,863,344
Rocky Mengle
Senior Tax Editor,

Rocky is a Senior Tax Editor for Kiplinger with more than 20 years of experience covering federal and state tax developments. Before coming to Kiplinger, he worked for Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting and Kleinrock Publishing, where he provided breaking news and guidance for CPAs, tax attorneys, and other tax professionals. He has also been quoted as an expert by USA Today, Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, Reuters, Accounting Today, and other media outlets. Rocky has a law degree from the University of Connecticut and a B.A. in History from Salisbury University.