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3 signs it's time to contact the IRS about a missing stimulus check

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  • If you haven’t received your stimulus check by direct deposit or mail yet, you’re not the only one.
  • You probably don’t need to contact the IRS about your stimulus payment unless you have reason to believe it was lost or stolen.
  • For instance, if you received President Trump’s signed letter saying your payment arrived but you haven’t gotten the money, you can initiate a trace on your payment by calling the IRS at 800-919-9835. 
  • If you got your check, but you’re waiting on a missing $500 payment for a dependent, the IRS started sending those out on August 5.
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If you’re entitled to a stimulus check but haven’t received your money yet, you’re not alone. 

For now, you probably don’t need to contact the IRS about your payment unless you have reason to believe it was lost or stolen.

Note that the IRS hasn’t been clear about issuing direct deposit payments to foreign banks. It appears that Social Security recipients living abroad who usually get deposits to their bank account are able receive their payments, but expats who don’t receive federal benefits and use a foreign bank account are experiencing delays.

Also, if you aren’t required to file a tax return because you don’t earn enough and you don’t receive federal benefits, you will need to use the IRS nonfilers tool to sign up for a stimulus payment before October 15. These payments aren’t automatic.

And if you submitted your information through the nonfilers tool before May 17 and got your check, but it was missing a $500 payment for a dependent, the IRS began sending out those missing payments on August 5.

Here are a few signs it’s time to take action to claim your money:

1. You received a letter in the mail confirming your payment, but never got the money

The federal government mailed paper notices to all economic impact payment recipients within 15 days of issuing their payment.

The letter states the amount of the payment and method of delivery. One side is in English and the other is in Spanish, and it is signed by President Donald Trump. There is a notice date and number listed in the upper right corner.

economic impact payment letter

A letter from the Internal Revenue Service, signed by President Trump, notifies a family via U.S. Mail of an economic impact payment direct deposit. Charles Krupa/AP Photo

If you received this letter (Notice 1444) in the mail and didn’t get your payment, you can check the Get My Payment tool on the IRS website to double-check that it has been issued. 

You can initiate a trace on your payment by calling the IRS at 800-919-9835 (expect long wait times) or submitting Form 3911.

2. It has been more than 5 days since your scheduled direct deposit date

The Get My Payment tool should be able to tell you when your payment was (or will be) deposited into your bank account.

If it has been more than five days since the scheduled arrival date, the IRS suggests checking with your bank first to see if they have any information about the deposit. Though many banks have stopped seizing stimulus payments to offset unpaid balances, some may still be doing it. 

You can initiate a trace on your payment by calling the IRS at 800-919-9835 (expect long wait times) or submitting Form 3911.

3. Your payment was issued as a paper check, but it has been more than 4 weeks since the scheduled arrival date

If you expected your payment to arrive as a check, two things could have happened: Your check was stolen or the United States Postal Service was unable to deliver it.

Again, you should first use the Get My Payment tool to see if your payment was issued and how.

If USPS was unable to deliver your check, the tool will update with “Need more information” and ask you to enter direct-deposit details. If you’d rather get a paper check, you can update your address with the IRS here.

If more than four weeks have passed since your check was mailed — or more than six weeks have passed if the USPS has a forwarding address for you — and you aren’t prompted to enter bank information online, then you can initiate a trace on your payment by calling the IRS at 800-919-9835 (expect long wait times) or submitting Form 3911.

If you live abroad, you can initiate a trace on your payment after nine weeks have passed since it was mailed.

Can I track my stimulus check in the mail?

Yes, you can track your stimulus check in the mail by using the USPS Informed Delivery system if it’s available for your mailing address.

When you sign up for a free online account, you can get notifications with a greyscale image of letters and packages that are getting delivered soon. 

This post was updated on August 6.

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