6 Reasons Why Your Second Stimulus Check Might Be Delayed
The IRS started delivering second-round payments in December. If you're still waiting for your money, here's why your second stimulus check could be late (or never arrive).
Did you get your second stimulus check yet? If the answer is "no," then you might be waiting a while longer to get your payment. The IRS started delivering second-round stimulus payments during the last week of December, and millions of Americans have already received their money. If all your friends and family members already have their money, but your pockets are still empty, you could be in for a long delay. And, for some people, a second stimulus check will never arrive.
You can use the IRS's "Get My Payment" tool to track the status of your second stimulus check…but that won't make it arrive any faster. The best thing to do is try to understand why your payment is delay, and then act accordingly. Read on to see 6 reasons why your second stimulus check could be held up. But if you're eligible for a second stimulus check, just know that you'll eventually get your money one way or another.
You Have a New Bank Account
Your second stimulus check payment will be directly deposited into your bank account if the IRS has your bank information from:
- Your 2019 federal income tax return (Form 1040);
- The "Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here" tool used for first-round stimulus payments;
- The "Get My Payment" tool, if the information was provided before December 22, 2020;
- A federal agency that issued benefits to you (e.g., the Social Security Administration, Department of Veteran Affairs, or Railroad Retirement Board).
Direct deposit is the quickest and easiest method of delivering your payment. However, if you recently closed the bank account that the IRS has on record, then the payment will be delayed. By law, the bank must return the payment to the IRS if the account is inactive or closed. Unfortunately, there's no way to provide the IRS with your new bank account information for second stimulus check purposes. As a result, you will either receive a paper check or debit card by mail, or you won't receive a second stimulus check at all.
If the IRS sends a paper check or debit card, that will take longer than getting a direct deposit payment because it has to go through the regular mail. Plus, with the current U.S. Postal Service backlogs, it could take even more time than usual to receive your second stimulus check.
If the IRS doesn't send a second-round payment at all, then you'll have to claim the second stimulus check money that you should have received as a "recovery rebate" credit on your 2020 income tax return. The credit will reduce the tax you owe and, possibly, trigger a tax refund (or a larger refund). The IRS is expected to begin accepting 2020 tax returns in late January or early February – so you won't be able to get your payment until at least then. If you're entitled to a refund, request a direct deposit refund to get your money sooner.
You Didn't File a 2019 Tax Return
The IRS will look at your 2019 tax return to see if you're eligible for a second stimulus check and, if so, to determine the amount of your check. If you didn't file a 2019 return (not everyone is required to file one), then the IRS is stuck…and so they won't send you a second stimulus check. If that's the case, you'll have to claim the amount you're entitled to as a "recovery rebate" credit on your 2020 tax return.
The IRS is not going to reboot the "Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here" tool that was available for first-round stimulus checks. People who didn't file a 2018 or 2019 tax return used that tool to provide the IRS with the information needed to process their first stimulus check. If you wanted your payment directly deposited into your bank account, you could also provide your account information through the tool. However, again, that tool won't be available for second-round stimulus checks.
[Note: Americans with income under the 2019 return filing threshold – generally single people who made less than $12,200 and married couples who made less than $24,400 – weren't required to file a 2019 tax return.]
The IRS Hasn't Processed Your 2019 Tax Return Yet
Again, your second stimulus check is based on information from your 2019 tax return. But the IRS is behind on processing 2019 tax returns. Throughout 2020, they had to deal with staff shortages, lockdowns, and all the other pandemic-related problems that everyone else faced. As a result, even though you filed your 2019 tax return on time, the IRS still may not have looked at it yet. And, if that's the case, it's as if you didn't file a 2019 tax return for second stimulus check purposes.
As mentioned above, if you didn't file a 2019 tax return, the IRS won't be sending you a second stimulus check. Instead, you'll have to claim the amount you would have received as a "recovery rebate" credit on your 2020 tax return, which is due on April 15, 2021.
You Used TurboTax, Jackson Hewitt, or H&R Block Software to File Your 2019 Tax Return
Some people who used software from TurboTax, Jackson Hewitt, or H&R Block to file their 2019 tax return may experience a delay in receiving their second stimulus check. That's because their payment was deposited into an intermediary bank account that was used to process their 2019 tax refund. Since those accounts are no longer active, the software companies were required by law to return the payments to the IRS – which, of course, causes a delay. The software companies and the IRS are working together to solve this problem, and many affected Americans have already received their payment. However, again, this problem did hold up payments for many people, and some people might still be waiting for their money.
The tip-off for this problem is if the IRS's "Get My Payment" tool says that your second stimulus check was deposited into an account you don't recognize. If you see that, and you used tax software to file your 2019 return, continue to check the IRS portal. Again, the software companies and the IRS are working on a solution – or, in some cases, have already fixed the problem – so you should get your second stimulus check eventually if you're entitled to one.
You Recently Moved
If, for whatever reason, you're scheduled to receive a paper check or debit card in the mail (rather than a direct deposit payment), the IRS is going to send your second stimulus check or debit card to the address it has on record. If you recently moved, the IRS is likely going to send your payment to the wrong address.
If the Postal Service is forwarding your mail to your new address, you'll eventually receive your payment. It might take a while, though, given their current backlog of mail that hasn't been delivered yet.
On the other hand, if the Postal Service returns your check to the IRS, it's not clear at this point what will happen. Information on the IRS website that's dated before the second-round payments were authorized says that the tax agency will hold your stimulus payment until they receive your updated address (see the IRS website for instruction on changing the address they have on file). However, that information was originally intended for first-round payments. It's quite possible that the IRS won't hold on to second stimulus checks in the same way. If that's the case, you might not get a second payment at all and will have to claim your second stimulus check amount as a "recovery rebate" credit on your 2020 tax return. We'll keep you posted if/when the IRS clarifies the situation.
You're Not Eligible for a Second Stimulus Check
Not everyone is eligible for a second stimulus check. In a nutshell, you don't qualify for a second-round payment if:
- You could be claimed as a dependent on someone else's 2019 tax return;
- Your 2019 adjusted gross income (AGI) was too high and your payment is completely phased-out;
- You don't have a Social Security number; or
- You're a nonresident alien.
(Estates and trusts, and people who died before 2020, are also not eligible.) If the IRS determines that you're not eligible for a second-round stimulus check, then you won't get one.
However, being ineligible for a second stimulus check doesn't necessarily mean you're also ineligible for the "recovery rebate" credit when you file your 2020 tax return. That's because second-round stimulus checks are based on your 2019 tax return, while the tax credit is based on your 2020 tax return. And, of course, there can be significant differences between the two.
For example, if you're single and your 2019 AGI was above $87,000, you don't qualify for a second stimulus check. But what if you were furloughed for several months in 2020 because of the pandemic, and your 2020 income dropped to under $75,000. In that case, you're eligible for a $600 recovery rebate credit. Changes to your family in 2020 – getting married or having a baby, for instance – can drastically change your tax situation. So, even if you don't qualify for a second stimulus check (or a first-round payment), make sure you check out the recovery rebate credit when you file your 2020 return (it's on Line 30 of the Form 1040). If you're not required to file a 2020 return, file anyway if you can claim the recovery rebate credit. Don't leave money on the table!
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See some of our other coverage of the second stimulus check:
- Is Your Second Stimulus Check Taxable?
- 10 Things Social Security Recipients Need to Know About Their Second Stimulus Check
- When Will Your Second Stimulus Check Arrive? It May Already Be On Its Way
- Who's Not Getting a Second Stimulus Check (Not Everyone is Eligible!)
- How Your Second Stimulus Check Will Differ from the First One
- Will College Students Get a Second Stimulus Check? (Hint: It Depends!)