What to Do If Your Third Stimulus Check is Lost, Stolen or Destroyed
If your third stimulus check is lost in the mail, or something else happens to it before you get it, you can ask the IRS to trace your payment. Here's how it works.
It's bad enough if a new sweater you ordered on Amazon gets lost in the mail – but you're really going to get mad if the post office loses your $1,400 stimulus check. What do you do then? Or what happens if your bank never receives your direct deposit stimulus payment from the IRS? Are you going to lose that money?
Fortunately, the IRS has a procedure to help. If your third-round stimulus payment is lost, stolen or destroyed, you can ask the IRS to perform a "payment trace" to see if your check was cashed or direct deposit misdirected. Ultimately, if everything goes smoothly, you'll be issued a new payment. That's the good news.
But there's some less than thrilling news, too. First, you have to wait a certain period of time before starting the process, and then it's going to take some time. So, you won't get your stimulus money right away. Second, as with any government request, there's a healthy list of procedures you must follow. Slip up on one of the steps, and you could find yourself in a bureaucratic black hole. But don't worry. While dealing with the IRS can be intimidating, we'll help you get through the process.
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Who Can Request a Payment Trace
You can track the status of your third stimulus check using the IRS's "Get My Payment" tool. If you're getting a stimulus payment (not everyone is eligible), this online tool will let you know how it will be delivered (e.g., paper check or direct deposit) and provide an estimated arrival date.
You can request a payment trace to track your stimulus payment only if the "Get My Payment" tool shows a payment was issued to you and you haven't received it. Don't request one merely to determine if you're eligible for a payment or to confirm the amount of money you should have received.
When to Request a Payment Trace
If the "Get My Payment" tool says that your third stimulus payment was issued as a direct deposit into your bank account, you should first check with your bank before submitting a payment trace request to make sure they didn't get a deposit. But wait at least five days after the estimated delivery date. Otherwise, the bank might not have the necessary information. After five days, you can request a payment trace if the bank still hasn't received your payment.
If you were scheduled to get a third-round paper stimulus check in the mail, the IRS can't initiate a payment trace unless it has been:
- Four weeks since the check was mailed to a standard address;
- Six weeks since the check was mailed if you have a forwarding address on file with the local post office; or
- Nine weeks since the check was mailed to a foreign address.
(Note: If you have a foreign address, there may be international service disruptions at the U.S. Postal Service or the foreign country you're in due to the COVID-19 pandemic. See the USPS Service Alerts website and check with your local consulate for more information.)
How to Request a Payment Trace
There are two ways to request a payment trace for a third stimulus check:
- Call the IRS at 800-919-9835; or
- Mail or fax a completed Form 3911 to the IRS.
Pick only one method (e.g., don't submit Form 3911 if you have already requested a trace by phone). Also remember that you can't request a payment trace before the timeframes described above – the IRS can't process a request until after the appropriate time period has passed.
If you're using Form 3911, make sure you:
- Write "EIP3" on the top of the form to identify the payment you want to trace (EIP is short for Economic Impact Payment, which is what the IRS calls a stimulus check);
- Complete the form answering all refund questions as they relate to your third stimulus payment;
- When completing item 7 under Section 1, check the box for "Individual" as the type of return, enter "2021" as the tax period, and don't write anything for the date filed; and
- Sign the form (if you file a joint tax return, both spouses must sign the form).
Mail or fax the form to the appropriate address or fax number according to the chart below. Don't send anything other than a Form 3911 to the fax numbers listed.
|If you live in...||then mail to this address...||or fax to...|
|Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont||Andover Internal Revenue Service|
310 Lowell St.
Andover, MA 01810
|Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Virginia||Atlanta Internal Revenue Service|
4800 Buford Hwy
Chamblee, GA 30341
|Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Texas||Austin Internal Revenue Service|
3651 S Interregional Hwy 35
Austin, TX 78741
|New York||Brookhaven Internal Revenue Service|
1040 Waverly Ave.
Holtsville, NY 11742
|Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming||Fresno Internal Revenue Service|
5045 E Butler Avenue
Fresno, CA 93888
|Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, Ohio, West Virginia||Kansas City Internal Revenue Service|
333 W Pershing Rd.
Kansas City, MO 64108
|Alabama, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee||Memphis Internal Revenue Service|
5333 Getwell Rd.
Memphis, TN 38118
|District of Columbia, Idaho, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island||Philadelphia Internal Revenue Service|
2970 Market St.
Philadelphia, PA 19104
|A foreign country, U.S. possession or territory, or use an APO or FPO address, or file Form 2555 or 4563, or are a dual-status alien.||Austin Internal Revenue Service|
3651 S Interregional Hwy 35
Austin, TX 78741
What the IRS Will Do
You'll generally receive a response about six weeks after the IRS receives your request for a payment trace (there could be delays due to limited IRS staffing). They will process your claim for a missing payment in one of two ways. If the check was not cashed, the IRS will issue you a new one. If you find the original check after receiving a new payment, you must return the original as soon as possible.
If the check was cashed, the U.S. Bureau of the Fiscal Service will send you a claim package that includes a copy of the cashed check. Follow the instructions in the packet. The bureau will review your claim and the signature on the canceled check before determining whether the payment can be reversed and a new payment issued.