5 Scenarios Where the IRS Will Finally Give You Your Missing Stimulus Check

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This post refers to stimulus checks issued in 2020. For the most up-to-date info, check out our recent tax articles.

If your stimulus check was less than you expected or you haven’t gotten one at all, it’s been virtually impossible to contact the IRS.

The answer to stimulus check troubles has been: “Wait until 2021 and get your missing stimulus money as a tax refund.”

But starting Aug. 10, you may be able to get help locating your stimulus money without waiting until next year.

5 Scenarios Where You Can Get Stimulus Check Help

The Taxpayer Advocate Service, an independent watchdog organization within the IRS that helps people navigate tax issues, announced in a blog post that the IRS now has a process for handling missing or incorrect stimulus payments — but only in five circumstances.

And starting Aug. 10, TAS will accept cases from taxpayers who haven’t received a payment or got less than they should have.

The good news: You may not have to wait until 2020 tax season to get your money.

The bad news: It appears that unless one of the following five very limited circumstances applies, there’s still no way to get your payment until tax time.

You could get your stimulus payment sooner if:

  • You used the non-filer tool and didn’t get a payment for your child.

Some people who used the non-filer tool for those who aren’t required to file taxes found that their payments were missing the $500 credit for dependent children under 17.

This was often the result of a programming error on the IRS website that was resolved May 17. If you used the non-filer tool to submit dependents’ information on or before May 17 and didn’t receive the $500 payment, you could receive the money this week. Otherwise, you can reach out to the IRS or TAS for help.

Note that so far, this doesn’t apply if you received certain government benefits, like Social Security or SSI, and missed the deadline to submit dependents’ information.

  • Your spouse owes child support

If you’re married to someone who owes child support, your entire stimulus check may have been garnished. But you’re entitled to get your half back by filing Form 8379 for injured spouses.

The IRS plans to issue payments to injured spouses in the coming weeks. If you don’t receive yours, you’ll be able to get help from TAS.

  • Your return had a math error

If your tax return had a math error that lowered your stimulus payment, the IRS can now help you resolve it and issue you a payment for the difference.

  • You were the victim of identity theft.

If you didn’t get your stimulus payment because you were the victim of identity theft, the IRS will issue you a payment once your case is resolved.

  • Your spouse died or is incarcerated.

You may not have gotten your stimulus payment if you filed a joint tax return with someone who has since died or is now incarcerated. In either case, the IRS will help you get your stimulus payment, but of course, you’ll only get your half of the check.

3 Scenarios Where You Still Have to Wait

The circumstances described above are pretty specific. The situations below are probably a lot more common — and unfortunately for now, the only solution is to file a tax return next year. We’ll update you if anything changes.

  • You get Social Security or other benefits and missed the non-filer dependent child deadline.

The IRS gave Social Security recipients just two days notice about the April 22 deadline for using the non-filer tool to provide dependent children’s information. For SSI and VA benefit recipients, the deadline was May 5.

If you missed the applicable deadline, there doesn’t appear to be a way to speed up the $500 payments just yet.

  • You file taxes and you didn’t receive $500 for your child.

Whether you didn’t get the $500 child credit due to an IRS error or because your child was born after the tax return the IRS used, you’ll have to wait until next year to get the extra payment.

  • Your income dropped.

If you made more than $75,000 as a single taxpayer or $150,000 as a married couple, your payment was reduced by 5 cents on the dollar. If your income is lower in 2020, you could qualify for more money. But of course, you’ll have to show the IRS that your income fell by filing a tax return next year.

How to Get Help With Your Stimulus Payment

You can contact the IRS Economic Impact Line for help tracking your payment, though it’s a pretty safe bet that you’ll spend a long time on hold. The Taxpayer Advocate Service hasn’t released a specific way to contact them as of Aug. 10, but you can visit its Covid-19 Tax Relief site.

If you know that your payment has been sent but you have yet to receive it, you can also contact the IRS to initiate a payment trace.

Just keep in mind that all of the information above only applies to the first round of stimulus checks. Though a second stimulus check still looks likely, nothing has been approved as of Aug. 10.

Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and a senior editor at The Penny Hoarder. She writes the Dear Penny personal finance advice column. Send your tricky money questions to [email protected].