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IRS: All stimulus checks have been sent, focus turns to tax season

The IRS has officially wrapped up sending all outstanding stimulus checks. So, what if you still are waiting for yours? Here's what you need to know.

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service announced this week that it has finished issuing both rounds of coronavirus stimulus checks and is now fully turning its attention to the 2021 tax filing season.

The agency said it sent out more than 160 million economic impact payments in the first round, totaling more than $270 billion, and another 147 million payments during the second round. The second $600 checks for individuals totaled around $142 billion.

"While some second round Economic Impact Payments may still be in the mail, the IRS has issued all first and second Economic Impact Payments it is legally permitted to issue, based on information on file for eligible people," the IRS said in a statement. 

The online "Get My Payment" program, which tracks each stimulus check, was last updated on Jan. 29, 2021. The IRS said it will not be updated again for the first or second Economic Impact Payments. 

So what if you still haven't received your first or second stimulus check? Here's what you need to know: 

Where is my stimulus check? What if I didn't get a stimulus check or the right amount?

While some $600 second-round stimulus check payments may still be in the mail, the IRS said on Tuesday that it has issued all of them.

So if Americans didn't get a payment, or they didn't get their full amount, they may be eligible to claim a Recovery Rebate Credit when they file a 2020 tax return.

Eligibility for the credit will be based on the 2020 tax year information, while economic impact payments had been based off of 2019 (or in some cases 2018) tax information. 

As a reminder, the first round of payments was worth up to $1,200 per eligible adult and $500 per dependent; the second was worth up to $600 for each eligible household member. Those who received a larger economic impact payment than they were due will not be penalized. 

The IRS started accepting 2020 tax returns on Feb. 12.

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Double check your mail for stimulus check debit card

During the second round of stimulus payments, about 8 million people received their money on debit or EIP cards. 

According to the IRS website, if the agency didn't have your banking info and if "Get My Payment" says a payment was mailed to you on Jan. 6, you were sent either a check or an EIP Card.

If that's the case, the IRS says you should double check your mail. EIP Cards were sent in a white envelope that prominently displays the U.S. Department of the Treasury seal. The EIP Card has the Visa name on the front of the Card and the issuing bank name, MetaBank®, N.A. on the back of the card. Each mailing will include instructions on how to securely activate and use the EIP Card. 

Now if "Get My Payment" says a payment was mailed to you on a date other than Jan. 6, your payment was sent as a paper check, according to the IRS website. 

Where's my refund? How to check the status of your 2020 tax payment

So, you've been proactive and turned in your tax return already or are planning to do so shortly. How do you check the status of your refund?

The IRS has a "Where's My Refund" page on its website that lets tax filers know whether their return has been received, if their refund has been approved and if payment is on its way. Refund status can also be checked on the IRS2Go mobile app.

"Where's My Refund" users will be asked to enter their social security number (which will be hidden except for the final four digits), their filing status (single, married, etc.) and the amount they are expecting from their refund.

Those who regularly file their taxes online and are set up with direct deposit are most likely to get their refunds the fastest -- the IRS says within 21 days, assuming there are no problems. The IRS says those who e-file will generally be able to use the "Where's My Refund" page within about 24 hours of submission.

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Those who choose to mail in their return and are expecting a mailed check should be prepared for a significantly longer wait to use the tool. The IRS says on its "Where's My Refund" page that the COVID-19 pandemic is leading to processing delays for all mailed documents. 

When should you call the IRS? The agency says if it's been more than 21 days since you e-filed or if the "Where's My Refund" site tells you to call the IRS, then you should contact them.

Is there going to be a third stimulus check?

As of Feb. 19, all signs point to Congress approving a third round of stimulus checks. 

This week, a Democratic-led effort to pass a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package passed its latest challenge with House committees advancing measures that will soon be combined into a single bill expected to clear the full House by the end of February.

The legislation provides a third stimulus check that amounts to $1,400 for a single taxpayer, or $2,800 for a married couple that files jointly, plus $1,400 per dependent. Individuals earning up to $75,000 would get the full amount as would married couples with incomes up to $150,000.

The size of the check would shrink for those making slightly more with a hard cut-off at $100,000 for individuals and $200,000 for married couples.

Some Republicans want to cut the size of the rebate as well as the pool of Americans eligible for it, but Biden has insisted on $1,400 checks, saying “that’s what the American people were promised.” The new round of checks will cost the government an estimated $422 billion.

Now there could still be changes before the bill is passed. But Democrats and President Joe Biden want to have the COVID-19 relief plan approved by mid-March, when extra unemployment assistance and other pandemic aid expires. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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