Stimulus checks mistakenly sent to inactive or closed bank accounts are being redirected, and some taxpayers can expect to start receiving the money by the beginning of February.
Jackson Hewitt, a tax preparation firm, said in a statement on Monday that the IRS will start processing the cash payments when their systems come back online, meaning affected customers could see the funds land by Feb. 1.
“This means they will receive their funds weeks earlier than if they needed to wait for their tax refund,” the company said.
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The payments in question, part of the $900 billion coronavirus relief package that Congress passed at the end of December, had been inadvertently sent to accounts that had been closed or no longer active, a snafu that arose because many tax preparations companies, including TurboTax, H&R Block, Jackson Hewitt and others, said the IRS had deposited the money into temporary “pass-through” accounts that customers could no longer access.
The IRS, which is rushing to deliver stimulus relief by Jan. 15, has faced mounting pressure to distribute the money as a surge in COVID-19 cases nationwide threatens to trigger a second economic downturn.
In a letter sent to IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig on Monday, a bipartisan group of lawmakers wrote to “express concern about the IRS’s decision to require people who have not received their EIP to wait until they file their 2020 taxes.”
“This decision by the IRS adds bureaucratic hurdles that make access to these payments difficult and leaves people with no option to access financial relief to address immediate financial obligations,” the lawmakers wrote. “Our constituents are entitled to receive these direct payments immediately.”
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Initially, the IRS said that after the Friday deadline, Americans who are eligible to receive the money but haven’t yet must claim it as a Recovery Rebate Credit on their 2020 tax return. But the agency now says it’s working with the companies to “potentially get these payments to individuals as quickly as possible.”
American adults who earned less than $75,000 in 2019 will receive the full $600 check, while couples who earned less than $150,000 will receive $1,200. The payments will be tapered for higher-earners (5% of the amount by which their adjusted gross incomes exceeded the initial threshold) and phased out completely for individuals who earn more than $87,000 and couples who earn more than $174,000.
Some Americans aren’t eligible to receive the cash payment: College students and dependents over the age of 17 won’t receive the money, nor will immigrants who don’t have a Social Security number. Some higher-earners who received a check during the first round of stimulus payments will also not qualify for the second round.
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You can use the IRS’s Get My Payment tool to check the status of your stimulus check.
The federal government has already deposited more than 100 million stimulus payments into recipients’ accounts, the IRS said. About 8 million will arrive via mail in the form of a prepaid debit card.