In an iconic commercial for J.G. Wentworth from the 2000s, various people stick their heads out of windows and shout, “It’s my money and I need it now!” This is how you might feel if you were expecting, or even relying on, the second $600 stimulus check, and it never arrived. Despite the fact that the IRS feels vast and unnavigable, there are ways to rectify the most hated government agency’s error.
The first thing to do is make sure you qualify for stimulus payments: meaning you made $75,000 or less in 2019, or you and your spouse made $150,000 or less. You figured out that you do indeed qualify and you still haven’t gotten your money, so you’re probably wondering, Why is this happening to me? And, The IRS already makes my life miserable in so many other ways, why did they fuck up the one nice thing they tried to do for me? I can’t answer the second question, but I can (maybe) answer the first. If you changed addresses or banks since you filed your 2019 taxes, this could have “delayed” your stimulus check, perhaps indefinitely. A whole lot of Americans moved specifically because of the pandemic, which means a lot of people have run into this problem, even if they requested their stimulus money by direct deposit.
The second thing to do is to visit Get My Payment, a website the IRS made that doesn’t necessarily help you actually get the aforementioned payment, but does maybe tell you what’s going on with it. If you enter your info in there, and the website tells you, “Payment Status Not Available,” what that really means is this: If you want that $600 from the government, you are going to have to work for it. And the way you will have to work for it is by doing one of your least favorite annual chores early: filing your taxes. If you didn’t receive one or both of your stimulus payments, you can claim a Recovery Rebate Credit on your 2020 taxes. “Generally, my advice to anyone is to file electronically and file early,” Janet Holtzblatt, who is a senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, told CNBC. The IRS starts accepting tax returns on February 12.
If you had a prosperous 2019, but made $75,000 or less as an individual in 2020, you are eligible for all of the stimulus money, which is $1,800 thus far, but the only way to get it is through claiming a Recovery Rebate Credit on your taxes. The IRS website tells you how to do this yourself. Your accountant should also know how to take care of this. It would benefit you to take care of this quickly because Congress is currently debating a third round of stimulus checks. Right now, the Dems want to give out another $1,400 for individuals or $2,800 for married couples, plus $1,400 for any kid you have who is under 17. So if you’re feeling optimistic about Congress’s ability to compromise and work together (LOL), file as soon as the IRS will let you in order to get that $1,400-plus.
It’s your money and you need it now, but sadly, that is not when you will be getting it. The only way to come by it is to do your taxes, which is not fun. They never make it easy, do they?