Some Americans say their stimulus checks are being 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 their second payment that was supposed to arrive months ago.
The IRS didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment Sunday.
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Lori Young, 52, didn’t recognize the bank account destination for her third stimulus 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 been receiving Social Security benefits via direct deposit for five years and she hasn’t changed her bank account.
Now her third $1,400 payment is showing the wrong bank account information again on the agency’s tool at a time when her medical bills are piling up. She has fibromyalgia, a chronic pain condition, rheumatoid arthritis and is also being tested for Multiple Sclerosis.
“I’m very frustrated. I have so many bills to pay,” says Young. “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 had popped up among filers in the first two rounds who had set up a tax advance in previous years when filing returns, tax professionals say. 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 is still showing up 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 says.
Young filed a return for 2020 to claim the rebate for her second payment and is still waiting for her refund, she says.
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 is basing the third round of stimulus 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 added.
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 expected 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 debit card in the form of a new EIP 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 would 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 would get the full payments, as would married couples with incomes up to $150,000. Payments would 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
Others have run into issues updating their current bank account information with the IRS.
Ryan Deckard, who lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 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.
So 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 also claimed the Recovery Rebate Credit to get his second payment.
But when he went online to check the status of his third stimulus check, his old account information was still showing up on the agency’s website.
“I’ve been in the throes of a meltdown. I’m tired of going to bed hungry,” says Deckard, a 33-year-old unemployed author.
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.
“Why can’t I change my banking information? The government shouldn’t be blindly sending money to closed bank accounts,” Deckard added. “It seems like the people who need the money most can’t get it.”