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The federal government began issuing coronavirus relief stimulus payments to individuals and families weeks ago but so far millions still have not received checks or direct deposits.

Here are several possible explanations for why that could be:


You do not qualify

Many people simply are not eligible for the money. According to the CARES Act, nonresident immigrants are not eligible for payments, nor are individuals who are claimed as dependents by others. Additionally, the $500 per child bonus payments only apply to children under the age of 17.

Additionally, the law says that payments can be offset by any past due child support payments that have been reported to the Treasury Department.

Another reason why someone may not be eligible is they earned too much money. Individuals who earned more than $75,000, joint filers who earned more than a combined $150,000, and those filing as heads of household who earned more than $112,000 will have their payments reduced by $5 for every $100 in income above those marks. This means the payment is less the higher earnings are, with it being reduced to zero for individuals who make $99,000 or more and couples who make $198,000 or more.

Delays from tax-prep services

A common reason why payments are delayed is the applicant used tax-preparation services to file their taxes. Those services set up temporary accounts for some customers to receive tax refund payments from the IRS so they can deduct fees before passing the remainder along to the recipients. According to a ProPublica report, banks where those temporary accounts are located have been getting people's stimulus checks and returning them to the IRS, claiming they received them in error.

IRS has incorrect bank information

In other cases, the IRS may not have a person's up-to-date banking information if a person has changed bank accounts since they last filed taxes. This would impact their ability to send direct deposits to the proper location. The IRS has a Get My Payment tool on its website to assist people in updating their banking information.

You filed a paper tax return

Payment amounts are determined in most cases by income as reported in people's tax returns. According to the IRS, they are currently unable to process paper returns due to COVID-19. As a result, those who have already filed paper returns will have to wait until processing centers reopen to have their returns handled. The IRS advises that people do not file a second return electronically.

You normally get paper checks for tax refunds

If you typically opt to receive tax refunds via check in the mail as opposed to electronic direct deposit, then it is likely that your stimulus check will be sent via paper check as well, which takes longer.

Wrong amount

In some cases, people received payments, just not for the correct amount. For example, the IRS has recognized that there are Americans who did not receive their bonus payments of $500 per child. While they have not explained why this has happened, the government says that in these cases, people can claim the additional money when they file their 2020 tax returns.


Additional information on how the stimulus checks work can be found here.

The stimulus checks are part of a massive relief effort totaling nearly $3 trillion to date, covering everything from loans and grants to businesses to local government support. Fiscal concerns over the degree and pace of spending gained traction following a Congressional Budget Office report, released in late April, which projected a federal budget deficit of $3.7 trillion for the 2020 fiscal year.

The report also said that by the end of fiscal 2020, publicly held federal debt could be 101 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product. The total national debt is currently nearing $25 trillion.