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IRS says more COVID relief payments on the way, mostly by mail this time

Waiting for mail_Jeep Mama cropped
You don't have to literally settle in next to your mail box, but do be on the lookout for your coronavirus economic relief payment. The IRS is sending out the next batch of this third round and many of them will be checks or debit cards delivered by the U.S. Postal Service.

Attention taxpayers: More economic impact payments are on the way. That's the promise in an announcement today from the Internal Revenue Service.

But the news is not all good.

Many of this next batch of payments will be as paper checks or prepaid debit cards that eventually will show up in snail mail boxes.

That U.S. Postal Service repository likely is where you should look, says the IRS, if the third COVID-19 economic impact payment (EIP3) doesn't show up as a direct deposit in your financial account by Wednesday, March 24.

IRS touts turnaround: One of the downsides of the more old-fashioned delivery method is that it likely will take weeks for the U.S. Treasury checks and Economic Impact Payment Cards, or EIP Cards, to arrive.

Despite the delay some might experience by getting their EIPs by mail, IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig says the relief money is going out at a record pace.

The IRS initiated the first, mostly direct deposit, batch of the $1,400 per person stimulus payments on March 12, the day after President Joe Biden signed the authorizing American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) into law.

And even though paper checks and debit cards are now in the mail, the IRS says it worked with the Bureau of the Fiscal Service to accelerate disbursements by converting many payments to direct deposits that otherwise would have been delivered by the Post Office.

Waiting and watching: Of course, all this talk of coronavirus cash going out is just empty words if you've been anxiously awaiting much-needed money. So what can you do?

Unfortunately, not much. Because the payments are automatic for most eligible people, contacting either your bank or the IRS won't speed up the EIPs' arrival. So that means waiting and watching.

If no EIP funds show up by Wednesday, March 24, in the bank account you gave the IRS in previous filings, then your focus should shift to your curbside snail mail box.

That's true even if your regular tax refunds and the two earlier economic impact payments arrived as direct deposits. The IRS says that delivery of this third COVID-19 stimulus amount may be different from how individuals got the previous payments.

Paper EIP's postal markings: If you're not used to getting much actual mail, you need to pay attention. That's something many of us, including me, don't do.

The bulk of correspondence and bills the hubby and I get arrive electronically. The little paper we get in our U.S. Postal Service box is junk mail, which it unceremoniously tossed into the recycle bin.

For the next couple of weeks, however, we — and you! — need to give all snail mail a closer look. The envelope containing paper EIP checks will be marked as from the U.S. Department of the Treasury. 

The check inside the envelope will look similar to typical tax refund checks. The main difference will be that the check annotation will note that it's an "Economic Impact Payment."

COVID EIP3 check mockup_IRS

And no, Joe Biden's name will not be on the check.

EIP debit card special notes, too: The EIP Card will come in a white, business-size envelope. It also will prominently display the seal of the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

The IRS added this external note earlier this year after some people reported throwing them, along with their valuable EIP contents, thinking they were the usual unsolicited advertising mailers carrying fake credit or debit cards.

EIP3 debit card envelope_IRS

The EIP debit card itself has the Visa name on the front and the issuing bank, MetaBank N.A., on the back.

EIP3 debit card front back_IRSActivating, using EIP Cards: Along with the piece of COVID-19 relief plastic, you'll also get information explaining that the card is an economic impact payment. You'll also get instructions on how to securely activate and use the card.

Note also that, as with the prior two economic impact payment debit cards, this third one is not reloadable. If you still have your EIP1 or EIP2 cards, if you've used up the amounts on them, they are no good. You can't transfer this EIP3 amount onto the earlier cards.

You still can, however, get cash from the EIP Card by using a domestic in-network ATM. You also can transfer the card funds to a personal bank account. And if something happens to the card, you can get replacement. All three of these transactions, says the IRS, are fee free.

More information about the COVID-19 relief cards is available at EIPcard.com.

Where's your EIP3? Again, most of us don't have to do anything to get EIP3 money. If we're eligible based on the latest filing info the IRS has on us, the tax agency will send us the payment.

But if you're tired of stalking your mail carrier, you can check your EIP3 status online.

The Get My Payment search tool at the IRS website will give you the status of your money. Or not.

In order to get the EIPs out quickly, the IRS again used the latest filing data, either for tax year 2019 or tax year 2020, it has in its system. This includes information on those who registered online at IRS.gov last year using the agency's Non-Filers tool or who submitted a special simplified tax return to the IRS to get the prior two relief payments.

If the IRS has received and processed a taxpayer's 2020 return, the agency will use that data to calculate and deliver the EIP3. But note the word processed. The IRS is still behind on last year's filings, as well as many 1040 forms sent in after filing season kicked off on Feb. 12.

So Get My Payment might show you what it showed me: "Payment Status Not Available."

COVID payment status not available (2)

Yeah, not what I wanted to see.

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

No EIP3 now, possibly later: If your payment, when you find it online or it arrives, is less than the full amount and is based on their 2019 return, it might be because the IRS used your 2019 info.

In this case, the IRS says it will automatically reevaluate your eligibility after it gets your 2020 tax return. If it determines you're entitled to a larger (or the full $1,400) coronavirus payment, the IRS will send you a supplemental payment for the difference.

What if you're 2020 filing means you're eligible for less? No worries.

The IRS says if it's re-evaluated EIP amount is smaller based on your latest filing, you won't have to pay back the difference.

Finally, whenever you do get your EIP3 and in whatever form, also be on the lookout for an IRS notice, or letter, about the payment. It will contain details on the amount you received (and, again, likely will not have the current president's signature on it).

Put this mailing in with your other tax records.

You also might find these items of interest:

 

Coronavirus Caveat & More Information
In 2021, we're still 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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