IRS stimulus check tracker now live: How to track your money, what it won’t tell you

March 14, 2021 0 By boss

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The IRS is sending the third stimulus checks, and you can get an update on your payment. Here’s the first step if you want to track its status.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Right on cue, the third stimulus checks are showing up in the bank accounts of those who are eligible for a payment. In fact, the IRS turned on its online payment tracker tool a day earlier than expected, to help you see the current status of your payment of up to $1,400 (calculate your total). However, the tool can be a bit tricky to decode at times — we can help.

This first wave of payments started going out to direct deposit recipients on Friday. But the IRS said ten of millions more will be go out in the coming weeks electronically to bank accounts and through the mail as paper checks or EIP debit cards. As with the first two checks, the majority of the payments will be made via direct deposit, the IRS said

The IRS status tool can show you when and how the agency sent your third check, alert you to potential problems that could delay your stimulus payment, and possibly suggest ways to fix an issue. The payment tracker will not give you the status on your first two stimulus payments, however. Here’s everything you need to know about tracking your payment. This story was updated with new information.

Now live: What to know about the IRS Get My Payment tracker tool

On the heels of the first payments arriving in bank accounts, the IRS turns on its tracking tool, called Get My Payment, so individuals and families can learn the status of their check. The IRS said it will update payment-status information once a day, usually overnight, and notes that IRS phone assisters won’t have information beyond what is available in the tracker.

To get the status of the third check, enter your Social Security number, date of birth, street address and ZIP code. Then the tool will display a message with information about your check — whether the payment was sent, the payment method (direct deposit or physical mail) and the date it was issued. The tool will not show the amount of your payment. However, it will let you know if the service can’t yet determine your status — more below on error messages.


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Stimulus check 3: How much money you’ll get



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Can you sign up for direct deposit using Get My Payment?

Now that the IRS is sending the third stimulus check, you’ll likely get it fastest if you have a direct deposit account already set up with the federal government. Some are reporting the IRS used the banking information they supplied on their taxes this year for the new stimulus payment.

With the first check, the online tool let you enter your banking information to receive your payment straight to your bank account, if the IRS didn’t have your banking information. The IRS didn’t let people register new direct deposit accounts or change their banking information for the second stimulus check, and the updated Get My Payment tool for the third stimulus payment doesn’t appear to allow you to add your banking information as the method the IRS will use to make your payment.

The IRS’ press release reads: “Those without current direct deposit information on file will receive the payment as a check or debit card in the mail.” The IRS hasn’t responded to a request to confirm that you can’t newly register for direct deposit with the third payment.

However, the IRS FAQ for Get My Payment says you can provide banking information if the IRS is unable to deliver your payment. We reached out to the IRS to clarify how it is handling new direct deposit information.

With the third checks now going out, you might still have time to receive your payment through direct deposit if you add your banking information on your 2020 taxes. If you want to want try, you’ll need to act fast. You can register for a new direct deposit account (in fact, up to three) as part of filing your 2020 tax return. If the IRS receives your banking information before it processes your third payment, it could use that information to send your money. However, The Washington Post reports delays with the IRS in processing returns.

What is the ‘Need More Information’ message?

According to the IRS FAQ for the 2021 payment, a “Need More Information” message in the Get My Payment tool means your payment was returned because the US Postal Service was unable to deliver it.

The FAQ says you will be able to have your payment reissued as a direct deposit, by providing a routing and account number for a bank account, a prepaid debit card (the card must be reloadable, the IRS said) or a financial service that has a routing and account number associated with it. The updated  FAQ said you can also update your mailing address to receive your payment.

We’ve reached out to the IRS for clarification on how the agency is handling updates to direct deposit payments.

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The IRS and US Treasury are sending the third round of stimulus payments.


Sarah Tew/CNET

What should you do if you get a ‘Payment Status Not Available’ message?

Don’t be alarmed if the Get My Payment tool gives you a message that says “Payment Status Not Available.” You may see this message until your payment is processed, according to the IRS. So, you don’t have to do anything.

However, it could also mean you are not eligible for a payment, according the IRS, so you may want to double-check your eligibility and plug in your numbers in our stimulus check calculator to see if you are due money.

If Get My Payment says the IRS sent a stimulus check, but you never get it, do this

If the IRS’ online tool said the agency has issued your stimulus money, but you have no record of it in the mail or in your bank account, and it never arrived in your mailbox, you may need to file a stimulus check payment trace. It’s handy if you also have the letter the IRS may have sent you.

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If your money is tied up in any way, the IRS Get My Payment tracking tool indicate a problem.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Do you have to keep the IRS letter confirming your third stimulus payment?

If the IRS issues you a stimulus check, it sends a notice by mail to your last known address within 15 days after making the payment, to confirm delivery. The letter contains information on when and how the payment was made and how to report it to the IRS if you didn’t receive your check. The letter is helpful if you don’t receive your full payment and need to claim your money later. Here’s how to recover the information if you lost or tossed the letter.

You can track your mailed stimulus check to your mailbox. Here’s how

If your third stimulus check is going out in the mail, the US Postal Service has a free app that can notify you when it’s about to deliver your stimulus money from the IRS. Called Informed Delivery, the mail-tracking service automatically scans your letters and can alert you when they’ll be delivered. Here’s more on how to set up and use the letter-tracking service from the USPS to keep tabs on your payment.

What if you’re still owed money from the first or second stimulus payments?

The IRS is no longer automatically sending out the first and second payments. If you believe you are still owed money from either of those rounds, your best chance of claiming that missing first or second payment is to file for the Recovery Rebate Credit as part of tax season 2020. If you’re eligible, you’ll need to know the amount of money the IRS allotted you, which you can find out online or from the letter the agency mailed.  The IRS said the updated Get My Payment tracker will not give you information on the first and second checks. Instead you need to set up and check your IRS account for information on those two payment.

The editorial content on this page is based solely on objective, independent assessments by our writers and is not influenced by advertising or partnerships. It has not been provided or commissioned by any third party. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products or services offered by our partners.

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