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Answers to some questions raised by the IRS move of Tax Day 2021 to May 17

90 million COVID relief checks delivered. How to find your EIP's status

US Treasury checks_DonkeyHotey-Flickr_left
DonkeyHotey via Flickr

Around 90 million COVID-19 economic impact payments have been distributed in less than a week since the bill authorizing them was enacted.

Those payments total more than $242 billion, according to the Internal Revenue Service.

In announcing the relief payment data today, the IRS also noted that more payments per the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) will be going out in the coming weeks.

All funds available today: Most of this first batch of payments, dubbed EIP3 since they are the third such pandemic financial relief effort, were sent by direct deposit.

While some of these deposits hit bank accounts over the last weekend, not everyone could immediately access the cash.

The delay in a bank showing the EIP3 deposit and the account owners' ability to get to the money depended in part on the financial institution.

Some big banks, notably Wells Fargo and Chase, said they were waiting for Uncle Sam to actually deliver the real money to cover the EIP3 amounts. Other institutions, however, went ahead and credited customers in advance.

However, the IRS says that effective today, Wednesday, March 17, all recipients of the earlier directly deposited EIP3 payments have access to their funds.

First recipient considerations: This first batch of relief money mostly went to eligible taxpayers who included direct deposit information on their 2019 or 2020 returns.

This group of EIP3 recipients also included people who don't typically file a return, but who last year successfully used the IRS' Non-Filers tool last year to register to receive one or both of the two previous coronavirus relief payments.

The IRS says additional batches of EIP3s will be sent in the coming weeks. Again, the preferred delivery method is by direct deposit.

When that's not possible, the rebates will be sent via the U.S. Postal Service as U.S. Treasury checks or debit card.

EIP3 eligibility, income phase-outs: In most cases, you don't have to do anything but wait for your rebate, which could be up to $1,400 per person.

You'll get the maximum if you (or your spouse if you're filing a joint return) are a U.S. citizen or U.S. resident alien. You also cannot be a dependent of another taxpayer and must, in most cases, have a valid Social Security number.

The full $1,400 goes to individuals whose adjusted gross income (AGI) on their tax return does not exceed:

  • $150,000 if married and filing a joint return or if filing as a qualifying widow or widower;
  • $112,500 if filing as head of household; or
  • $75,000 for eligible individuals using any other filing statuses, such as single filers and married people filing separate returns.

The EIP3 payments will be reduced if your AGI is more than the above amounts. This means taxpayers will not receive a third payment if their AGI exceeds:

  • $160,000 if married and filing a joint return or if filing as a qualifying widow or widower;
  • $120,000 if filing as head of household; or
  • $80,000 for eligible individuals using other filing statuses, such as single filers and married people filing separate returns.

The IRS says these latest coronavirus payments are automatic and, in most cases, will be distributed in much the same way as the first two economic impact payments approved in 2020.

So all you have to do is keep checking your bank account for a direct deposit or your snail mail box for a paper rebate check or government debit card.

Tracking your EIP3: If you're among those waiting for your COVID-19 cash, the IRS asks that you be patient. It is still catching up on previously filed taxes and returns sent this year while working on distribution the EIP3 amounts.

I know, patience is easier asked for than accomplished.

The wait is especially frustrating for folks who filed a 2020 tax return early in the hopes of getting the EIP3 sooner.

Rather than sit and sulk, you can try to find out where in the IRS system your COVID-19 rebate is by using the agency's online Get My Payment tool.

You'll need to enter you Social Security number (or Individual Tax ID number). Married couples who file a joint return just need to enter one spouse's identifying digits.

You'll also be asked for your date of birth. Again, see the note above if you're married and file a joint tax return. Once verified for either spouse, the same payment status will be shown for both of you.

COVID payment status starting screen (2)

Finally, the IRS wants to know your street address sans city or state and Zip code.

If all goes as planned, once you hit "continue" the next page will give you your EIP3's status.

When things don't go as planned: Of course, it always seems to be something when it comes to taxes.

In some cases, you're likely to get the page that I did. The one that told me that my "Payment Status Not Available." Bummer.

COVID payment status not available (2)

The IRS says that if you get this message, either it hasn't yet processed your EIP3 payment or you're are not eligible for a payment.

That latter reason could be the case if the agency is using your 2019 filing information. But you know you qualify based on your 2020 filing situation.

That's why you got that tax year's return to the IRS earlier this year. But, because of the previously noted backlog, the agency hasn't gotten around to getting your most recent data into its system.

In either case, again you just have to wait. The IRS says it will continue to send the latest economic impact payments to eligible individuals throughout 2021 as it processes tax returns.

If you have more EIP3 questions, the IRS has more answers at its special Get My Payment Frequently Asked Questions web page, as well as a fact sheet on this third round of economic impact payments.

You also might find these items of interest:

 

Coronavirus Caveat & More Information
In 2021, we all still are dealing with extraordinary circumstances,
both in our daily lives and when it comes to our taxes.
The COVID-19 pandemic and efforts to reduce its transmission
and protect ourselves and our families means that,
for the most part, we're focusing on just getting through these trying days.

But life as we knew it before the coronavirus will return,
along with our mundane tax matters.
Here's hoping that happens soon!
In the meantime, you can find more on the virus and its effects on our taxes
by clicking Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Taxes.

 

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The good news. The difference of this bailout is that families will receive relief for all their dependents listed on the tax return, not just their qualifying children under 17 years of age.

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