$1,400 Stimulus Check Fail: Why Some Americans Never Got Their Money

$1,400 Stimulus Check Fail: Why Some Americans Never Got Their Money

Incorrect bank account numbers, checks going to tax preparers rather than taxpayers themselves, and other such issues are preventing many Americans from collecting their stimulus check.

The $1,400 stimulus checks from the American Rescue Plan, which was signed by President Joe Biden in March, have been going out over the last few weeks. The latest tranche of checks, which went out this week, totaled 2 million checks valued at $3.4 billion, and that included money to Veterans Administration recipients who don’t file a tax return, the IRS said. 

But there are reports that not everyone is getting the checks they’re supposed to get. A local news report by WCPO in Cincinnati, part of the “Don’t Waste Your Money” feature, echoes other reporting in other parts of the country, pointing out several citizens who have not received their checks for various reasons. In some cases, this has prevented people from taking vacations or meeting expenses. 

Those speaking with the TV station complained of the IRS sending their checks to their previous bank as opposed to their current one, or having a digit or two wrong in the bank account. Others reported that the check was sent to their tax preparer, rather than to their own account. Others said that while they were told mistakes made during 2020’s stimulus payments wouldn’t be repeated for the American Rescue Plan stimulus, but they have anyway. 

Also, the IRS does not allow taxpayers to call directly, likely worried that they won’t be able to handle such massive call volume. 

“Do not call the IRS. Our phone assistors don’t have information beyond what’s available on IRS.gov,” the IRS’s website says.

The IRS does operate a Get My Payment page, in order to give taxpayers an opportunity to see where their check status stands. The page also allows people to enter their information and correct anything that’s wrong. 

Those who never got their first and second payments are encouraged to claim the 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit.

Meanwhile, there are signs that the checks are working, at least when it comes to stimulating the economy. Retail sales boomed in March, according to the Commerce Department figures released this week, with the checks in Americans’ pockets contributing to a jump of 9.8 percent since the previous month, and 26.9 percent over March of 2020, which was the month that the pandemic began in the United States. 

The sporting goods, clothing, and food and beverage sectors posted big gains, with bars and restaurants, in particular, showing signs of recovery. 

Surveys have shown that Americans are spending more of their stimulus on paying bills than anything else, but the retail sales figures are an indication that a huge amount of discretionary spending is happening as well, especially on things people missed while they were stuck inside. 

Stephen Silver, a technology writer for the National Interest, is a journalist, essayist, and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.

Image: Reuters