What To Do If You Never Received Your Stimulus Check

By Stefano Tromba
January 25, 2021

“As many as 8 million people are still waiting for their second stimulus checks”. That’s according to Brian Deese, the new director of the White House National Economic Council. “This is principally an issue associated with people who are non-filers.”

If you think you’re one of these 8 million and you’re certain you meet all the stimulus requirements, you have options. One of which is requesting a Payment Trace from the IRS.

Missing your stimulus check? When to take action

Roughly two weeks after the IRS sends out your second check, you should receive a letter confirming the payment with ways to contact the agency to report any issues. Last year, when the first round of stimulus checks went out, that letter included two phone numbers to call, but that’s not the case this time around.

Here are some common scenarios that might indicate you need to look into your stimulus payment:

  • If you’re one of the millions of people who qualified for the first stimulus check but never got it.
  • If your second stimulus check did not arrive shortly after the Jan. 15 deadline.
  • If you received some stimulus money, but not the entire portion.

You definitely need to check and make sure you qualified for the second payment because not everyone who received a check the first time received a second.

How to claim your money if your first or second stimulus check never arrived

What to do if you never received any stimulus check depends on your situation. If you never got your money or a confirmation letter from the IRS saying your first payment was sent, you will likely have to file for the money as a Recovery Rebate Credit with your 2020 taxes this year. You’ll need to use the 2020 Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR to claim a catch-up payment when filing before the April 15 deadline.

The IRS will provide a Recovery Rebate Credit Worksheet if you’re missing a payment and determine how much. If you’re part of the group that doesn’t usually file taxes (such as older adults, retirees, SSDI or SSI recipients, and individuals with adjusted gross incomes of under $12,200), you’ll likely still need to file this year. You should also save your IRS letter – Notice 1444 Your Economic Impact Payment – with your 2020 tax records, as you’ll need it to file the claim.

You can also file for this Recovery Rebate Credit if you didn’t receive the correct amount of money for your child dependents in your first or second check.

However, there could be other instances where your money didn’t come through. Contact the IRS if:

  • The Get My Payment tracking tool reported the IRS made your payment weeks ago, and you didn’t get it.
  • You received a confirmation letter from the IRS that your payment was sent, but you didn’t get the funds.
  • You think you accidentally threw out your prepaid EIP debit card or check.
  • You suspect someone stole your check or defrauded you.

What’s the best way to contact the IRS to track your missing money?

You can request an IRS Payment Trace if you received the confirmation letter from the IRS that your payment was sent (also called Notice 1444), or if the Get My Payment tool shows that your payment was issued, you have not received it within the certain timeframe.

Do you need to file another form with the IRS if your money hasn’t arrived?

As was the case with the first check, if you filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return or receive government benefits, the IRS should automatically send your second check for $600 without you having to do anything.

If, however, you’re a US citizen or permanent resident, had a gross income in 2019 under $12,200 — or $24,400 as a married couple — and didn’t file a return for 2018 or 2019, you may have needed to give the IRS a bit of information before they can process your payment. If you missed the Nov. 21 deadline to use the IRS’ Non-Filers tool, you would likely have to claim that money on your next tax return in the form of a Recovery Rebate Credit, described above.

As always, be sure to contact a tax professional for advice and answer any questions when filing your return.

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