April 17, 2021

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Stimulus check timeline update: What to know about payment dates, IRS delivery scorecard – CNET

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If you didn’t get your stimulus check, when’s it coming? If you did, are you sure you got the right amount? Here’s what you need to know.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Stimulus check delivery is far from over. Though the IRS says it sent 127 million stimulus checks, roughly 30 million more Americans could expect to see a stimulus check for up to $1,400 per person in their household in the coming days and weeks — including Social Security recipients like SSI, SSDI and veteran beneficiaries of federal programs. (Here’s how to track the payments.)

That could bring the total to 157 million disbursements, with millions of additional payments going to qualified recipients in the next batch as paper checks or EIP debit cards, now that direct deposits stopped after March 24. So when will your money arrive, and what happens if there’s a problem with your stimulus check? (Quick note: The IRS doesn’t want to hear your stimulus woes.)

Adding to the confusion is that the US Postal Service is currently experiencing delays, which could detain your mailed payment. Many others may not get a full payment for months if the IRS uses their 2019 taxes to calculate their share and owes them the rest of their check based on their changed AGI or new dependents, like a 2020 baby (more about 2021 child tax credit qualifications here). We’ll go over these scenarios below. In addition, here’s what to know so far about a fourth stimulus check. This story has been updated with new information.

Stimulus check delivery status scorecard and timeline

The IRS and Treasury have distributed 127 million third stimulus payments to date, and are now prepping tens of millions more. People who didn’t receive a direct deposit by March 24 will receive a stimulus payment in the mail as a paper check or EIP debit card. With mail delays continuing, though, it isn’t clear how long it’ll take from the time the IRS or Treasury sends your payment to the date you’ll receive it. 

Though up to 30 million SSI and SSDI recipients are still waiting on a delivery date for their payments, we now have a lot more detail about the payment particulars, especially through Direct Express (more below). If your life circumstances changed between your second check and now, any complications could hold up your payment. If you moved recently, tell the IRS and USPS.

Here’s how the checks have been sent so far:

Stimulus check scorecard

Direct deposit Paper check EIP card Direct Express card
First payment batch (by March 17) 90 million ($242 billion) 150,000 ($442 million) Not released Not released
Second payment batch (by March 24) 17 million ($38 billion) 15 million ($34 billion) 5 million ($11 billion) Not released
Social Security, including SSI, SSDI Not disclosed Not disclosed Not disclosed Up to 30 million to come, no delivery date yet

How to track your stimulus check status with the IRS and USPS

The IRS updates its Get My Payment tracker tool for stimulus checks daily. This online app shows you the status of your payment, including when a check is scheduled for delivery. The IRS portal can also flag if there’s a problem with your payment that you may need to address, but it doesn’t tell you the amount you’ll receive. You can use a free tool from the USPS to track your mailed stimulus payment.

Social security, SSI, SSDI, veterans, other federal beneficiaries

After a weeks long holdup, the IRS can now prep payments for SSDI and SSI recipients, veterans and retired railroad workers, many of whom automatically qualify for the third check. A number of people are expected to receive money through a Direct Express card (PDF) if this is how they normally get benefits, and if they didn’t file taxes in 2019 or 2020.

However, some in this subset of nonfilers could receive an automatic payment sooner if they got a previous check by using the IRS’ Non-Filers tool, which is now closed. In that case, you could get your payment in the current wave. Here’s our complete guide to stimulus checks for people receiving Social Security benefits.

Stimulus check delivery start and end dates

Stimulus bill passed Congress March 10
Stimulus bill signed into law March 11
First direct deposits made March 12 (provisional), March 17 (official)
First paper checks sent Week of March 15
First EIP cards sent Week of March 22
Last day to get direct deposit March 24
SSI and SSDI checks sent Soon to be announced
IRS deadline to finish sending checks Dec. 31, 2021 (mandated by the bill)
Last date to receive a check January 2022 (if mailed checks sent late December)
Claims for missing stimulus money open 2021 tax season likely (in 2022)

What could hold back or break up delivery of your stimulus payment

Here’s more information on problems you might encounter with your stimulus check.

Now playing: Watch this: Stimulus check 3: How much money you’ll get

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What do you do if there’s a problem with your check?

Sorry, but the IRS really doesn’t want you to call if you have any issue with the delivery or amount of your stimulus check. So what should you do instead? We have a guide that walks you through how to report stimulus check problems, including checks that never arrive (try filing a payment trace), direct deposit payments that go to the wrong account and more. 

Why your 2019 tax return could add a wrinkle to your payment

Taxes are now due May 17. So how will the IRS figure out how much it owes you? It will calculate your total (you can also do that here) based on the most recent tax filing it’s processed at the time it’s ready to tabulate your check.

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If you don’t get all your stimulus check money right away, you may need to address the issue down the road.

Sarah Tew/CNET

If you filed your 2020 taxes early and you know your tax return was already processed, your total will likely be based on your 2020 adjusted gross income, not on your 2019 AGI. That presents complications if the difference between the two years disqualifies you from getting a third stimulus check

On the flip side, if the IRS uses your 2019 taxes and you’re owed more money based on your 2020 AGI and dependents, you’ll need to claim the difference at a later date. (Learn more about some of the stimulus check exceptions and catches here.)

You’ll have to claim any missing money later, but no word yet on how or when

There are several reasons the IRS may owe you stimulus money after it sends out the third round of checks. Maybe the agency processed your 2019 tax return instead of 2020 and there was a discrepancy. Or maybe you had a baby in 2020 that you still need to claim as a dependent. Maybe a clerical error accidentally left out a new dependent. Perhaps your payment never arrived or was accidentally garnished

Whatever the reason, the IRS may provide a way to file for missing stimulus money before the Dec. 31 deadline. If not, you might have to wait a year to claim it, when you file your 2021 taxes in 2022 (even if you’re a nonfiler who isn’t typically required to file taxes).

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Millions may wind up getting a smaller check than they’re owed, depending on their 2020 taxes.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Stimulus checks could legally arrive through December

Although the IRS and Treasury are sending stimulus checks now, the agencies have until Dec. 31, 2021, to complete distributing the third payments. That’s good news in the sense they aren’t facing a compressed deadline to send out all the checks, as they did with the second stimulus check in December, which only provided them a 17-day window to get the payments out. 

On the other hand, the nearly nine-month total delivery window also means some people may find themselves waiting, for a variety of reasons. We’ll have to wait and see how the IRS deals with any fringe issues that arise, such as the need to claim missing money. 

If you’re in one of the groups below, there’s more for you to know

Stimulus checks aren’t necessarily a one-size-fits-all situation. Here are additional guides for:

And here’s everything you need to know about the third stimulus check, how to calculate your stimulus total and every way the stimulus bill can bring you more money.

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