Americans Who Don’t Receive Stimulus Checks Before Jan. 15 Must Wait For Their 2020 Refund

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has sent out the $600 direct payments to over two-thirds of eligible Americans. But there’s a chance that some won’t receive theirs before January 15, the date which the government must stop the distribution process, according to the new $900 billion relief bill.

If you haven’t received your check yet, you might be worried that you’ll miss this vital payment. However, according to the IRS, you can still get your funds — you will just have to wait longer and claim it on your 2020 tax return. 

According to The New York Times, the Treasury Department has reportedly received several bounced checks sent to inaccessible bank accounts. The number of Americans waiting on their second stimulus checks is unknown, but according to Jackson Hewitt, the IRS has issued direct deposits to over 13 million invalid bank accounts.

The government has already distributed most of the direct payments, while 147 million-plus checks worth $142 billion are scheduled to go out before the deadline. Data from the House Ways and Means Committee indicated that the IRS has sent out 113 million direct deposits (which likely include the returned checks) and 24 million physical checks and prepaid debit cards.

In a statement, the IRS noted that President Trump’s delay in signing the bill has led to several complications. “Because of the speed at which the law required the IRS to issue the second round of Economic Impact Payments, some payments may have been sent to an account that may be closed or no longer active.” 

This occurred when companies such as Jackson Hewitt, TurboTax, and H&R Block created provisory accounts when preparing their clients’ taxes. In some cases, these accounts might belong to clients who paid for their tax preparation services by opting for the companies to withdraw the fees from their refund automatically.

These clients would have no use for these accounts after receiving their refund. However, it is this information that the IRS would have on file. Since accounts are inactive, direct deposits would be unable to go through and would have to go back to the Treasury.

According to Lauren Saunders, the associate director at the National Consumer Law Center, this issue occurred last spring during the distribution of the first round of stimulus checks. “It is disappointing that the IRS did not fix this problem, which it has known about for months, in light of the likelihood of a new round of stimulus payments. People who need money now may have to wait months until they can file a tax return and get their refund, unless the tax prep companies are able to forward the funds.”

Like last year, the IRS will not reissue bounced checks until they contact the recipient. Those who don’t receive their payment before January 15 can claim the Recovery Rebate Credit when they file their taxes for 2020.

Single-filers whose adjusted gross income didn’t exceed $75,000 in 2019 will qualify for the full $600. Married couples filing jointly with an income of $150,000 or less will receive $1,200. Qualifying households with dependents 17 and younger will receive an additional $600 for each child.

You can track your stimulus check using the IRS’s Get My Payment tool. From there, you can see where the IRS sent your payment. If it was issued to an unknown bank account, it’s likely a temporary one. 

If you read a message that says, “Payment Status #2 — Not Available,” it means you probably won’t receive a payment, according to the IRS.

Many who see this message may be confused, particularly if they had no problem receiving their first stimulus check. If you used a tax preparation service for your 2019 tax returns, you might want to consider contacting the company for more information. 

Unfortunately, those who don’t receive their payment in time will have no other choice except to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit and wait for their refund. This puts those who are struggling the most in an es difficult position.

Tax preparation companies are trying to help their clients however they can. On its website, Jackson Hewitt recommended its clients claim the Recovery Rebate Credit. H&R Block is currently sending checks to clients’ bank accounts or as a prepaid card. Meanwhile, TurboTax and the IRS are trying to get people their money as quickly as they can, according to a TurboTax spokeswoman. 

  • Bernard, Tara Siegel. “Stimulus Payment Delayed? You May Need to Claim It on Your Tax Return.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 6 Jan. 2021,


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