Personal Finance

'Payment status not available': What to know if you still haven't received your $600 stimulus check

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Key Points
  • The IRS has sent out millions of $600 stimulus payments.
  • Still, many people may be unsure where their payment stands.
  • These steps can help you assess whether you're eligible for the payment and how to claim it.
Audrey Saracco / EyeEm

If your $600 stimulus payment still hasn't landed in your bank account or in your mailbox, you may be wondering if you can still expect it.

According to the most recent guidance from the IRS, the answer is: "Maybe."

Millions of second stimulus payments have been sent out in recent weeks after Congress approved the payments in late December.

The checks include $600 per person, plus $600 per child under 17, provided they fall under certain income thresholds. Generally, full payments go to individuals earning up to $75,000 and married couples filing jointly up to $150,000, and gradually phase out for income above those levels.

The IRS has an online tool — Get My Payment — through which individuals can check on the status of their checks. Provided you are eligible for the money, the status should show the date of the payment and method — direct deposit, check or debit card.

Still, some people may receive the message "Payment status not available" when checking that site.

There are some steps you can take if you are unsure where your stimulus check stands.

Check your eligibility

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For starters, check to make sure you still meet the requirements for the money.

The checks phase out at the same rate as the first $1,200 stimulus payments. However, because the checks are smaller this time, that means the caps for reduced payments are lower.

Individuals with $87,000 in income and married couples with $174,000 will not receive any payment. In contrast, the first payments phased out completely at $99,000 in income for individuals and $198,000 for couples.

So if you received a reduced payment last time, you may not get money this time around.

The new $600 checks are based on 2019 tax returns, while the first round of checks were based on either 2018 or 2019 filings. So if you received a first stimulus check based on your 2018 return and your income went up in 2019, you could see a reduced or no stimulus payment.

Many eligibility restrictions have stayed the same. For example, if you are an adult who has been claimed as a dependent, you will not receive a check.

You are also not eligible if you do not have a Social Security number that is valid for employment, are a non-resident alien or died before 2020.

Incarcerated individuals are eligible for payments.

File your taxes ASAP

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If you're eligible for a stimulus check, and receive a partial payment or no money at all, the IRS urges you to claim a credit for the rest of the money when you file your 2020 tax return.

This year, the IRS has pushed back the start of tax season until Feb. 12.

The tax agency is unable to reissue mailed payments that are returned by the Post Office. To recover money missing in transit, you may claim it on this year's return.

For direct deposits that went to incorrect bank accounts, the resolution may be a bit more complicated. Payments could be misdirected if you used a service that provided you with an advance on your tax refund.

"The IRS and tax industry partners are taking steps to redirect stimulus payments to the correct account for those affected," the tax agency states on its website. "The IRS anticipates many additional taxpayers will receive payments following this effort. You don't need to take any action as this work continues."

The bank account information you already have on file with the IRS cannot be changed through the Get My Payment app, which shows the status of the second payment.

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If you see "Payment status not available" when you check on the site, that could mean either you're not eligible or that the government was unable to issue your second payment. If the latter is the case, you can claim the money as a credit on your tax return.

"Generally, my advice to anyone is to file electronically and file early," said Janet Holtzblatt, senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center.

People who typically do not submit tax returns should also plan to file in order to get their money, unless they already provided that information to the government last year.

Those who receive federal support through Social Security, railroad retirement or veterans benefits generally should get the money automatically. If they do not, they are also urged to file a tax return this year.

People who received no stimulus check, or a partial stimulus check, can apply for the credit by filing Form 1040, an individual tax return, or 1040-SR, a return for seniors. The credit is calculated in the same way as the stimulus checks but is based on 2020 income information.