I Never Got My Stimulus Check From the IRS; How Do I Track It?


I Never Got My Stimulus Check From the IRS; How Do I Track It?

More than half of Americans who are eligible to receive the third stimulus check have received the money via direct deposit. Paper checks and debit cards are on the way to millions more.

You don’t need to sign up for anything to receive your stimulus check — most people who get federal benefits, filed their 2019 or 2020 tax return, or used the IRS nonfilers tool last year, and meet the eligibility requirements for a payment, will receive theirs automatically.


Some US citizens living abroad are also eligible to get a stimulus check, but the IRS will not send direct deposits to foreign banks. If the bank account listed on your tax return is a non-US bank, the IRS will send a paper check or debit card.

Where’s my 3rd stimulus check?

The IRS is sending stimulus funds throughout 2021. If you haven’t received your payment yet, don’t assume you won’t ever get it.

You can check the status of your stimulus check using the IRS’s “Get My Payment” tool, which updates once a day. It will show you when and how your money is being sent, either direct deposit or through the mail (paper check or debit card).

If you get a “not available” status message, the IRS says you’re either not eligible for a third stimulus check or your payment hasn’t been processed yet. If you get a “need more information” message, you can enter your direct-deposit details to speed up your payment.

If you didn’t qualify for the third check based on 2019 income but that’s the most recent return the IRS has for you, file your 2020 return as soon as you can. Your payment will be sent once the IRS has processed your return.

If you aren’t required to file a tax return because your income is too low and you didn’t register using the IRS nonfilers tool last year, you will need to file a 2020 tax return to get any of the stimulus checks.

What if I never got the 1st or 2nd stimulus checks?

If you’re missing a first or second stimulus check but believe you qualify, then you can claim the money on your 2020 tax return (unless you did get an IRS notice confirming the money was sent — more on that below). The payments are worth up to $1,200 and $600 per person, respectively.

When you prepare your tax return, you’ll be asked to report the total Economic Impact Payment received to date.

There will be a separate worksheet on your tax return with instructions for calculating any outstanding amount owed to you if anything. If you file your taxes using online software, the provider will prompt you to enter the required information and do the calculations for you.

The IRS advises filers to only fill out this portion of their return if they received less than the maximum payment amount.

Can I contact the IRS about my missing stimulus checks?

Yes, but only if you have proof that the check or deposit was sent and you never received it. In this case, you can call the IRS to initiate a trace on your payment.

Follow these steps:

1. Confirm the money was sent

The federal government mailed paper notices to all first and second-round stimulus check recipients after issuing their payment. Letters are also being mailed for the third round of stimulus.

The letter states the amount of the payment and the method of delivery. One side is in English and the other is in Spanish. There is a notice date and number listed in the upper right corner.

Economic impact payment letter

A letter from the Internal Revenue Service notifies a family via U.S. Mail of an economic impact payment direct deposit.

If you did not get this letter (Notice 1444 or Notice 1444-B for the second payment), then you should create an IRS online account. The account will show the payment amount issued to you by the IRS if any (it won’t show the method of delivery).

2. Make sure enough time has passed

The IRS says phone operators will only be able to trace a first- or second-round stimulus payment if:

  • 4 weeks have passed since the payment was mailed by check to a standard address
  • 6 weeks have passed since the payment was mailed to a forwarding address on file with the local post office
  • 9 weeks have passed since the payment was mailed, and you have a foreign address listed for the first payment (based on 2018 or 2019 income); OR
  • It is after March 31, 2021, and you have a foreign address listed for the second payment (based on 2018 or 2019 income)

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.