Some Americans say their government checks were deposited in the wrong bank accounts this weekend, forcing many of them to wait longer for the badly needed aid after struggling financially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Those taxpayers were surprised to see that the last four digits of their bank account numbers were incorrect when they checked their payment status on the IRS website, an issue that happened during the first two rounds of direct payments when technical glitches from third-party tax preparers caused delays for many filers.
Some taxpayers are frustrated that they might have to wait for a paper check in the mail, while others still haven’t received a dime of the second payment that was supposed to arrive months ago.
When USA TODAY contacted the IRS, the agency directed all questions to the FAQ page for its “Get My Payment” tool.
If a filer’s bank information is invalid, or the account has been closed, the bank will return the payment to the IRS, and the agency will mail a check to the address on file, the IRS says on its website.
When will I get my third check? IRS begins sending first round of $1,400 COVID-19 relief payments
Where is my payment? IRS updates ‘Get My Payment’ tool with information on new COVID-19 payments
Lori Young, 52, didn’t recognize the bank account destination for her third check.
The retired nurse, who lives in Camden, South Carolina, receives Social Security disability benefits. She received her first $1,200 Economic Impact Payment last spring, but she never got a second $600 check in December after the wrong bank account information appeared on the IRS “Get My Payment” tool, the government’s tracking portal.
Young has received Social Security benefits via direct deposit for five years, and she hasn’t changed her bank account.
Her $1,400 payment showed the wrong bank account information on the agency’s tool as her medical bills are piling up. She has fibromyalgia, a chronic pain condition, rheumatoid arthritis and is being tested for multiple sclerosis.
“I’m very frustrated. I have so many bills to pay,” Young said. “I have a steady income with my Social Security, but I have a lot of medical issues. I was relying on these stimulus checks to help me pay off my bills.”
What we know
The issue with wrong bank accounts popped up among filers in the first two rounds who had set up a tax advance in previous years when filing returns, tax professionals said. The IRS and tax partners took steps to redirect stimulus payments to the correct account for those affected, the agency said.
It’s unclear why the wrong account information showed up again for Young. For filers who didn’t receive a payment in the first two rounds, or received less money than they were eligible for, they may be eligible to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit on their 2020 returns, the IRS said.
Young filed a return for 2020 to claim the rebate for her second payment and is still waiting for her refund, she said.
The third round of stimulus checks started hitting bank accounts for eligible Americans this weekend after the American Rescue Plan Act was signed into law Thursday.
The IRS bases the third round of checks off tax returns from 2020 or 2019, whichever is more recent.
In the coming weeks, more batches of payments will be sent via direct deposit and through the mail as a check or debit card, according to the agency. Some people may see the direct deposit payments as “pending” or as provisional payments in their accounts before the official payment date of March 17, the IRS said.
Social Security and other federal beneficiaries will generally receive this third payment the same way as their regular benefits, the IRS said. A payment date for this group is to be announced soon.
In the prior rounds, if the IRS didn’t have routing and account information for a direct deposit, taxpayers would be sent either a check or an EIP debit card. Paper checks and debit cards require more processing and mailing time.
‘Payment status not available’
Some people may receive the message “payment status not available” when checking the IRS site.
“If you get this message, either we have not yet processed your payment, or you are not eligible for a payment,” the IRS said.
If that happens, filers should check to make sure they meet the requirements for the money. Filers must have a Social Security number that is valid for employment and are a U.S. citizen or a U.S. resident alien.
The payments amount to $1,400 for a single person or $2,800 for a married couple filing jointly, plus an additional $1,400 for each dependent child. Individuals earning up to $75,000 get the full payments, as do married couples with incomes up to $150,000. Payments decline for incomes above those thresholds, phasing out above $80,000 for individuals and $160,000 for married couples.
Some can’t update banking information
Some people have run into issues updating their bank account information with the IRS.
Ryan Deckard, who lives in Pittsburgh, received the first payment, but he never got a second one after the “Get my Payment” tool showed an account that was no longer active for him.
When tax season kicked off this year, he filed his 2020 return with TurboTax on the first day – Feb. 12 – to make sure his bank account information was updated with the IRS. He claimed the Recovery Rebate Credit to get his second payment.
When he went online to check the status of his third relief check, his old account information still showed up on the agency’s website.
“I’ve been in the throes of a meltdown. I’m tired of going to bed hungry,” said Deckard, 33, an unemployed author.
“Why can’t I change my banking information? The government shouldn’t be blindly sending money to closed bank accounts,” Deckard said. “It seems like the people who need the money most can’t get it.”