What Everyone Wondering "Where's My Stimulus Check?" Needs to Know

Financial experts explain the stimulus check requirements and why some people haven't gotten theirs yet.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has not only wreaked havoc on our economy, but for many Americans' personal financial situations, it's been a disaster. To help, the United States federal government passed the CARES Act—a $2.2 trillion stimulus package—to send direct financial help to millions of Americans. But when it comes to the rolling out of those stimulus checks, there's been a lot of confusion. Some people have already received their stimulus checks, while others are constantly refreshing their bank accounts online, internally screaming, "Where's my stimulus check?"

Most of the confusion comes down to who actually qualifies for a stimulus check, what has to be done to get one, and how you should be receiving your money. To answer your burning stimulus check questions, we consulted top financial experts to break it all down. Here's what they had to say. And for more coronavirus mysteries rectified, check out 13 Actual Facts That Debunk Common Coronavirus Myths.

What are the stimulus check qualifications?

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"About 90 percent of Americans are eligible for stimulus checks, so odds are, you will receive one," says financial expert Chane Steiner, CEO of Crediful. "However, if you are classified as a dependent on taxes, you won't be receiving a check. This includes many college students and some senior citizens depending on others financially."

Steiner says the amount of money you receive is based on your income. As long as you made below $75,000 a year on your latest tax filing as a single filer or less than $112,500 as a head of household filer, you should be receiving the standard $1,200 amount. (That number would increase by $500 for each dependent you've claimed under the age of 17.) Married couples filing together and earning less than $150,000 will receive this amount doubled, so $2,400.

What could prevent me from getting a stimulus check?

"Individuals who earned more than $99,000, married couples who earned more than $198,000, and heads of household filers that earned more than $136,500 are not eligible for stimulus checks," says Bob Castaneda, program director for Walden University's MS in Finance program.

What if I fall in between these numbers?

If you make below the maximum income amounts, but more than the minimum amounts that receive the full $1,200, how much are you going to receive?

According to Forbes, "your stimulus check will get reduced by $5 for every $100 more in adjusted gross income that you have," depending on your filing status of single, married, or head of household. For example, if you have a gross income of $75,100, you'll receive $1,195.

Are the stimulus check requirements based on my current salary?

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Whether or not you qualify for a stimulus check—and how much—is based on your 2019 tax filing, if it's available, says Steiner. However, if you haven't filed taxes for this year, then you still might be eligible, but your 2018 tax filing will be used instead. If you haven't filed taxes for either year, that might explain why you haven't received your check.

If you are not required to normally file taxes—meaning you're someone who "receive[s] veterans disability compensation, a pension, or survivor benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs," or you have an income level that does not reach tax filing requirements—Castaneda says you can apply for a stimulus check by completing the online IRS form for non-filers.

However, the IRS website says only U.S. citizens or residents with a valid Social Security number who are not able to be claimed as a dependent of another taxpayer may fill out the form. If you receive "Social Security retirement, disability, survivor benefits, Supplemental Security Income, or Railroad Retirement benefits," you should not fill out the online form, as the IRS will automatically send you your check.

Can I still file my 2019 taxes and receive a stimulus check?

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Since the federal government and many states have extended their tax filing dates for 2019 to Jul. 15—rather than Apr. 15—because of the coronavirus, some people may not have already filed taxes for the year. If you fall under that category and did not file taxes in 2018 either, don't stress out just yet. Mike Savage, CEO of online accounting firm 1-800Accountant, says you can still file for 2019 taxes and be eligible to receive a stimulus check.

Savage says that even if you file now, it will not affect your 2019 refund—if you're eligible for one. The stimulus check is "in addition to your 2019 refund." If you owe taxes, he says that you should still receive money, as there is no current stipulation that "they will withhold the rebate if you owe taxes."

"In other words, if you can, file now," he says. Although, be aware that you most likely will not receive your check the day after you file, just that you should receive one still. "The IRS has not provided any timelines on those who file later," Savage explains.

And if you are a young adult who was classified as a dependent in 2018 but are no longer claimed as a dependent in the 2019 filing, Steiner says that "filing for 2019 can absolutely help you get a check," as long as you meet the other eligibility requirements. However, you must do so as soon as possible, "as the IRS will need that updated information before sending you your payment."

What if I meet all the requirements and still haven't received a check?

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Maybe you're reading this thinking, "I meet all the requirements, filed taxes, and still haven't received my stimulus check. What gives?" Well, that might be because the IRS has no direct deposit information for you. If that's the case, you have to wait for your check to be mailed.

"If you still haven't gotten your check yet, it might be because you haven't issued a direct deposit before," Steiner explains. "Don't worry, you'll still get the money. It will just be mailed to you as a paper check instead of deposited electronically. Naturally, the mailing process takes a bit longer, so expect to have to wait a few more weeks to receive your check."

If you are sure you have included your direct deposit information in your tax filings, there may still be a few reasons why you haven't yet received your check, says Cassidy Horton, banking and investments writer for Finder.

"First, your money could've gone to an old bank account. In this situation, the bank usually transfers the money back to the IRS," she says. "Secondly, there may be a delay if you used a tax preparation software to file your return. Most tax preparers put your tax refund in a temporary account, take out any necessary fees, then transfer it to your bank." This doesn't mean that you won't receive your money—there will just be a delay.

So, what can I do to check on my stimulus check?

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The IRS has set up a tool on their website where you can check your eligibility, track the status of your payment, and update your direct deposit information. Horton says that in most cases, the tool will tell you why your check is delayed. However, many Americans have reported receiving a "Payment Status Not Available" message when trying to track their stimulus checks. If that's the case, all you can do is wait. Castaneda says you should continue to monitor your bank account for a direct deposit or expect to receive a check by early May.

Kali Coleman
Kali is an assistant editor at Best Life. Read more
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