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‘My daughter accidentally threw away our paper stimulus check. Can you help?’

I’ve tried to call the phone number for the Internal Revenue Service’s stimulus help line, but no one answers

The Moneyist answers dilemmas in an age of coronavirus.

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Dear Moneyist,

A shot in the dark here! My daughter accidentally threw away our paper stimulus check. I’ve tried to call the phone number for the Internal Revenue Service’s stimulus help line, but no one answers. Can you help me get in touch with someone?

Kelly

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Dear Kelly,

Some people are indeed mistaking the white envelopes with stimulus checks and debit cards for junk mail, and actually throwing them out. The stimulus payment debit cards, for instance, are Visa V, -3.31% cards issued by MetaBank (the Treasury’s financial agent) and delivered in plain envelopes from Money Network Cardholder Services — neither of which is a familiar name for most people.

At least you know why you have not received your check. I have received countless letters from people wondering where their economic impact payment has gone, and they too cannot get through to the IRS on the phone. The staff are overwhelmed with the amount of work and the agency has warned that people will likely not be able to get through to a customer-service representative by phone.

The IRS staff are overwhelmed with the amount of work, and the agency has warned that people will likely not be able to get through to a customer-service representative by phone.

If you have already tried to call the IRS number 800-919-9835, but to no avail, you can submit IRS Form 3911, which you can find on irs.gov. The IRS says it can be used to track lost stimulus checks or other problems; it’s usually used by people who have a problem with their tax refund. This may take weeks, or even months, I’m afraid. The IRS is still working through its mail, and has said that processing will take some time.

People who did not receive a check this year, or only got a small amount and believe their income will fall below the required threshold for checks next year, could still receive a stimulus payment next year. The EIP is an advance payment of a tax credit on your 2020 taxes. The IRS is using 2019 tax returns to gauge people’s incomes. In eight of the top 10 cities, the economic impact payment only covers between 60% and 71% of an estimated monthly budget for a family of four, one survey found, so I understand a payment received later this year or even next year may be of small consolation.

The Moneyist: My son is staying with me, yet my financially irresponsible ex-husband received his $500 stimulus check. Is my ex right to keep it?

More than 160 million stimulus checks have been sent, and millions more people are awaiting their money. The IRS is sending $1,200 payments to individuals with adjusted gross annual income below $75,000, and $2,400 to married couples filing taxes jointly who earn under $150,000.

You can submit your bank-account and address information through the IRS tracking tool, “Get My Payment.” It should also tell you if the IRS needs more bank-account information. May 13 was the last day that Americans could submit direct-deposit information to receive stimulus checks, which means payments will arrive as either paper checks or debit cards moving forward.

In the meantime, I hope you and your daughter stay healthy, and safe, and I wish you the best of luck in resolving this problem.

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