What's the right way to report a missing stimulus check to the IRS? We'll tell you.Angela Lang/CNET
If you expected to receive the first stimulus payment after the CARES Act was passed back in March, but you still haven't gotten any money in the mail or in your bank account, it's time to let the Internal Revenue Service know. You should find out what happened before the second stimulus payment and potential additional benefits get finalized in the next economic rescue bill. The IRS is currently sending out some payments for dependents that were supposed to have gone out earlier, but the majority of adults who qualified have already been paid.
If that's not the case for you, follow the steps below to let the federal agency know that your payment is missing. We list two different phone numbers to try later if these easier alternative methods still leave you with questions, and you need to speak to someone directly.
For more like this
Subscribe to the How To newsletter, receive notifications and see related stories on CNET.
it's a good idea to get this task out of the way now, especially if you think you will qualify to receive money when the next round is finalized -- that way, you'll only have to wait for one payment instead of two. We update this story often.
Now playing: Watch this: Haven't received your stimulus check yet? Let's track...
This is when you should report your late stimulus check to the IRS
If you're certain you meet the qualifications to receive the first stimulus check, these are warning signs that you should contact the IRS right now:The Get My Payment tracking tool reports the IRS made your payment weeks ago and you haven't received it (see below).
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 your prepaid card or check in the trash (see below).You suspect someone stole your check or otherwise defrauded you.
Keep reading for more on these issues and for phone numbers to call to contact the IRS.
Now playing: Watch this: Stimulus standoff on Capitol Hill
Did you receive a confirmation letter, but no check in the mail?
A handful of CNET readers reported that the IRS sent them a letter confirming their payment but that they haven't received their checks.
"Last week I got a letter in the mail saying that I received my payment. But, no, I have not," a CNET reader reported after getting the confirmation letter the IRS sends out 15 days after it sends the payment.
The IRS didn't respond to our question about how it handles payments reported to have been sent but that people say are missing.
Is there another form the IRS still needs you to file?
If you filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return or receive government benefits, the IRS should automatically send your check 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 need to give the IRS a bit of information before it can process your payment. Head to the Non-Filers site and see if the IRS needs something from you.
The nonfilers tool will be available till Oct. 15, the IRS told CNET, and people who register for a payment using the tool before then will receive their check by the end of the year.
Is your stimulus check inside?Sarah Tew/CNET
Try the IRS Get My Payment tracking tool first
It's worth visiting the IRS' online portal designed to track the status of your 2020 payment. Generally, it should tell you when your check will be processed and how you'll receive it (for example, as a paper check in the mail). If the Get My Payment tool doesn't give you information you can understand or says your check is on the way and you haven't received it, you may need to eventually report the discrepancy to the IRS.
If you see a 'Need More Information' message from the Get My Payment app...
If the Get My Payment tool gave you a payment date but you still haven't received your money, the IRS may need more information. Check the Get My Payment tool again and if it reports "Need More Information," this could indicate that your check has been returned because the post office was unable to deliver it, an IRS representative told CNET.
After you see the "Need More Information" message, the online tool will let you enter your banking information to receive your payment straight to your bank account. The IRS said If you don't provide your bank account information, the agency will hold your payment till it receives a current mailing address. Head to the IRS change-address page for how to update your address with the IRS.
Could you have accidentally thrown away your check or debit card?
Four million people were to receive their stimulus money on a prepaid debit card called the Economic Impact Payment Card, instead of a paper check. The EIP card arrives in a plain envelope, the IRS said, with "Money Network Cardholder Services" as the sender.
Some people, taking it for junk mail, may have mistakenly thrown these letters away. If you've misplaced or thrown away your card, the EIP card service has an FAQ on what to do if your card is lost or stolen. You can also call 800-240-8100 to request a replacement. It's free, according to a spokesperson for the Treasury Department. To request a new card, press option 2 when prompted.
However, the EIP card website says, "Your Card will be deactivated to prevent anyone from using it and a new replacement Card will be ordered. Fees may apply."
We recommend calling the above number for a lost or stolen card and speaking to a representative.
Could the IRS have sent your check to a closed account?
Your check may have bounced back to the IRS if the agency tried to send your payment to a now-closed bank account or to a temporary prepaid debit card a tax preparer set up for you. If your payment was returned to the IRS, the agency will mail your check to the current address it has on file for you.
Did the federal government intercept your payment?
If you owe child support, the IRS can redirect your payment to cover past-due support. The Bureau of the Fiscal Service will send you a notice if this happens.
Where's your stimulus money? A number of factors could be causing the holdup.James Martin/CNET
Was your payment only a portion of what you think you're owed?
A different, but related, issue could be a change in your income in 2020. In some cases, the IRS may owe you more money than you received if the income figure used to calculate your payment from your tax returns in 2018 or 2019 is less in 2020.
Likewise, if you now have a new dependent, such as a child, who isn't reflected on your tax returns, you may be owed more money. In either case, the IRS said, you can claim the additional amount on your 2020 tax return when you file next year. We recommend keeping a detailed record so you don't forget.
Were you a victim of mail fraud or a scam?
Though it's uncommon, you may believe you've been scammed out of your payment or had it stolen. The Federal Trade Commission has a website where you can report a stolen stimulus check. We've asked the IRS what other recourse you have if this situation applies to you, and we'll update this article when we hear back. If you're worried about theft, you can sign up for a free USPS service that will send you a picture of every piece of mail coming your way -- including your stimulus payment.
How to call the IRS to ask about your absent stimulus check
If you do contact the IRS by the phone, it's a good idea to give yourself plenty of time for the call. We wouldn't be surprised if call volumes are up, or if conversations take some time. It's also a smart idea to gather your information in front of you before you make the call, like a copy of your most recent tax ID and the letter that the IRS sent if you received one.
Within 15 days after it sends out your payment, the IRS should mail you a letter confirming the payment. At the bottom of the letter is a number you can call for more information: 800-919-9835.
In May, the IRS added 3,500 telephone representatives to help with potential problems regarding payments. The IRS help number is 800-829-1040.