It has now been more than two months since the March 2021 American Rescue Plan Act sent out the third round of $1400 stimulus checks.
By now, it is estimated that 165 million payments have been sent out, roughly ninety percent of the total, and checks will continue to be mailed in smaller numbers for the rest of the year. However, if you qualify for a payment and haven’t yet received one, it’s possible that your check has been misplaced, lost in the mail, or simply hasn’t been delivered yet.
In this case, it might be useful to request a payment trace from the IRS. Here’s how.
1) Make Sure You Qualify
Before engaging the services of the IRS, it’s helpful to make sure that you qualify for payments.
Depending on your circumstances, you might also qualify for additional payments. The IRS has begun issuing “plus-up” payments supplementing the regular stimulus check, based on your 2020 tax return. If you had a child during the pandemic, for instance, you probably qualify for a plus-up payment.
2) Use the Get My Payment Tool
The IRS has provided a web tool updating users on the status of their stimulus checks. To use it, you need to enter your Social Security number, your address, and your date of birth. Once this is done, the IRS will display the status of your check and whether it has been dispatched or not.
If the site says that your check has not yet been mailed out (or deposited directly), you have nothing to worry about – except bureaucratic inertia. If, however, the stimulus payment is recorded as having been dispatched several weeks ago, you might be in trouble.
To keep people from delaying them with unnecessary requests, the IRS has requested that a waiting period be observed before a payment trace is requested.
Therefore, you should wait for the specified time after the date the IRS says the payment was dispatched. For direct deposit, this cooling-off period is five days, and for domestic addresses, it’s four weeks. Forwarding addresses are six weeks, while international addresses are nine weeks.
To reiterate, there is no rush – the payments do not expire, and the IRS is still mailing out the third batch of stimulus checks, so it is possible that yours is still on the way. However, almost nine out of every ten of them have already arrived, so it might be worth checking in any case.
On the other hand, if you never received a stimulus check from the earlier rounds of payments – one in March 2020, and a second in December 2020 – and you have determined that you are eligible, it’s certainly time to request a payment trace.
4) Request a Payment Trace
If the waiting period has been observed and there is still no sign of your payment, it is time to request the trace. To do this, call the IRS at (800) 919 9835 or mail or fax the agency’s Form 3911 to their office.
5) Wait Some More
Fortunately, if your direct deposit never arrived and you never cashed your initial stimulus check, the IRS will mail you a replacement. The agency claims that this will on average take another six weeks, although the office’s staffing shortages and the ongoing mailing of stimulus checks and plus-up payments could delay it longer.
Lastly, if the missing check arrives during this time, the IRS instructs you to destroy it, rather than trying to cash the same check twice.
Trevor Filseth is a news reporter and writer for the National Interest.