Third stimulus check: How to track your $1,400 relief payment

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For the millions of Americans eligible for a third coronavirus stimulus check, now is the time to stay on top of tracking your payment.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Treasury Department have already disbursed roughly three-fifths of all $1,400 (or more) stimulus payments to eligible U.S. adults, according to recent releases from the agencies. The first tranche of payments went out to 90 million Americans starting March 17, while a second wave began March 22. That comes less than two weeks after President Joe Biden signed the massive $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan into law.

If you don’t receive your payment in the form of a direct deposit by March 24, the IRS says you should prepare for the possibility that your Economic Impact Payment (as it’s officially known) might arrive in the mail as a physical check or prepaid debit card — at least until the next round of payments are disbursed. If your check bounced or if the postal service returned your payment, you might also need to update your information on file with the IRS. Either way, you’ll want to utilize the IRS’ Get My Payment tool.

Here’s everything you need to know about tracking your stimulus check, as well as eligibility requirements and what you should do to make sure you receive your payment as soon as possible.

Who is eligible for the third stimulus check?

If you’re trying to track your stimulus check, you’ll first want to know if you’re eligible to receive one — information that the Get My Payment tool won’t explicitly inform you when you go track your check.

One good rule of thumb for determining if you qualify: If you were eligible to receive the full amount before, you’ll be eligible again. Income requirements for receiving full stimulus checks are the same for both individual and married tax filers, while income information is based on your most recently processed tax return (2019 or 2020, if you’ve already filed).

If you earned up to $75,000 (based on annual adjustable gross income, or AGI) you’re slated to get the full relief check worth $1,400. Married couples will thus receive $2,800 (two $1,400 checks) as long as their combined AGI doesn’t top $150,000.

But the point at which payments completely phase out for Americans happens sooner on the income scale, a move meant to appease more deficit-minded lawmakers and shrink the size of the overall relief package.

Individuals’ total payments decrease by $28 per every $100 over the income threshold. Single filers and married couples who make $80,000 and $160,000 or more a year, respectively, won’t receive a check at all.

Eligible U.S. adults will see $1,400 per each individual in their household, including adult dependents, such as college students.

If you’re ineligible for a stimulus payment but currently out of work, here’s how to apply for unemployment benefits.

When will your stimulus check arrive?

The stimulus payments are being distributed to taxpayers either by direct deposit or by paper checks or debit cards arriving by mail. If you’ve been paying your taxes via direct deposit, the IRS should already have your banking information on file and will make the payment directly to your bank account.

For direct deposit, the IRS uses data already in its system to determine which bank account to send the payment to. That most likely happens by attaching a routing and account number to your 2020 or 2019 tax filing, as well as inputting one earlier in 2020 for receiving your first stimulus check. Those receiving payments by mail will have to wait a little longer.

This round, the Treasury Department is also working with the Bureau of the Fiscal Service to identify federal records of recent payments to and from the government to find a possible bank account alternative for delivering stimulus payments as a direct deposit. The move helped accelerate the stimulus check delivery timeline, the IRS said in a statement.

In most cases, individuals aren’t required to take action to receive their checks and are discouraged from contacting the IRS, according to a Treasury Department release.

The IRS and Treasury Department anticipate sending out more tranches on a weekly basis moving forward.

How do I check the status of my stimulus payment?

But waiting on your stimulus check can be an anxiety-ridden process, especially at a time when nearly 10 million Americans are out of work. Use the Treasury Department’s tracker:

  1. Visit the “Get My Payment” page that the IRS has set up on its website.
  2. To monitor the status of your payment and track it, click (or tap) on the blue “Get My Payment” button.
  3. You’ll be taken to a page about authorized use; go ahead and click (or tap) OK.
  4. On the Get My Payment page, enter your Social Security number (or taxpayer ID number), your date of birth, your address and zip code. When finished, click (or tap) the continue button.
  5. This leads to a payment status page, which informs you of the status of your payment and when it can be expected. (You may also be told that the service cannot determine your status.)

If you’re seeing a “payment status not available” error message on the platform, the IRS says one of the following issues might be occurring:

  1. The agency hasn’t yet processed your Economic Impact Payment;
  2. It doesn’t have enough information on file to issue you a payment; or
  3. You aren’t eligible for a payment.

The platform is typically updated overnight, meaning you won’t see a new message if you’re checking for updates more regularly than once a day.

Payment status not available: What should you do?

The IRS’ Get My Payment tool will only let you input new direct deposit or bank account information if you’re seeing a “Need More Information” status, breaking with tradition from previous stimulus check rounds. That works either by submitting a financial product that includes a routing and account number with it, whether it be a bank account or prepaid debit card.

The easiest way to make sure that the IRS has the most accurate picture of your financial situation and personal whereabouts is by submitting your 2020 tax return. You now have until May 17 to submit your 2020 tax return, after the IRS on March 17 announced it was delaying the deadline by a month.

However, given the unprecedented and unconventional nature of the current tax season, the Treasury Department and IRS may have already attempted to send out your payment before your tax information was processed.

You could also update your mailing address by submitting a Form 8822, Change of Address, or notifying the IRS orally of your move. But be prepared: You might experience delays waiting for confirmation, given that the IRS has already begun distributing these stimulus checks. As always, a direct deposit is the fastest way to guarantee you receive a payment.

What happens if you don’t receive your payment or only receive a partial amount?

If you haven’t received your payment yet, don’t panic, although it’s easier said than done. Compared with the first round of stimulus checks, the IRS and Treasury Department have significantly shrunk the delivery timeline by weeks, if not months. However, the text of the American Relief Plan still gives both agencies until Dec. 31, 2021, to distribute all funds, meaning the last round of checks might not hit consumers’ mailboxes until January 2022.

Consider signing up for the U.S. Postal Service’s informed delivery service, so you know in advance of any mail you’ll be receiving on a given day. If the IRS says it already mailed your check but you didn’t receive one, down the road you might also decide to order a stimulus check payment trace. You can arrange one by calling a hotline at the IRS or submitting a completed Form 3911, Taxpayer Statement Regarding Refund by mail or fax. But be prepared: This process can take weeks. The IRS may also ask that you sit tight for the time being — in some cases, for a period as long as nine weeks.

Be sure to hang on to any documents the IRS and the Treasury send you regarding your stimulus payments for tax filing purposes. Then, calculate how much you should receive based on your income, tax filing status (single, head of household or married) and the number of dependents in your household. If they don’t match up, you’ll want to claim any and all missing payments as a Recovery Rebate Credit. You can do so by filling out a new section (Line 30) on Form 1040. Given that stimulus payments stretched into the 2021 tax season, this option will likely persist into 2022, another option for tracking down your money if you never receive it.

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Note: Daniel Bukszpan contributed to a previous version of this story.