The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Didn’t get your stimulus payment? Here’s how to find it.

A guide to the most common stimulus glitches

President Trump's name on a stimulus check issued by the IRS. (Eric Gay/AP)

I never fully appreciated the skill of writing instructions until I tried to help people figure out what has become of their stimulus payments.

The IRS — stymied by the lack of staff and old technology — delivered more than 140 million economic impact payments (EIP) worth $239 billion by mid-May under the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (Cares) Act.

A timeline of IRS stimulus payment glitches

But getting the money out has been anything but smooth. The online tools built to facilitate payments have had a number of issues, often related to instructions on how to use them. Stimulus payment delivery dates came and went, leaving people frustrated and worried. Taxpayers have received notices that payments have been deposited in their bank accounts, but the money isn’t there. Parents received their stimulus payments minus the promised $500 per dependent child.

And most recently, taxpayers mistook prepaid debit cards loaded with their stimulus payments for junk mail. Many threw the cards in the trash.

The IRS and Money Network Financial, which is managing the distribution of the prepaid EIP debit cards, have created online information pages to answer people’s questions. But the guidance is just not good enough. So here are some answers — as best I could obtain — to three major stimulus payment problems.

Discarded debit cards: If you have lost or thrown out the stimulus debit card, you’ll have to call 800-240-8100 for a free replacement, according to directions at The cards are issued by MetaBank, but the guidance is woefully lacking from there. Many people give up when prompted to put in their card number.

“The automated voice hung up on me when I could not provide the number on the front of the card because I threw it out, of course,” wrote Jed Berliner, an attorney from Springfield, Mass.

The prompt should say if you don’t have the card number, here’s the next step. People are already upset and trying to figure out the various options. I encouraged Berliner to try again, and he successfully reached a customer representative.

When you call, ignore the instructions to press Option 1 to reach customer service. Instead, choose Option 2 for a lost or stolen card. Then you need to select Option 1 to input the last six digits of your Social Security number as well as your Zip code. From there, you should be transferred to a person in customer service, where you have to answer some security questions before a replacement card is mailed. Berliner was asked the color of a previously owned car.

Missing stimulus deposit: Lots of people have complained that they have gotten a notice on the “Get My Payment” tool or a letter from the IRS that says their stimulus payment has been direct-deposited into their bank account. But no payment has been made.

The IRS says that if you received an EIP Notice 1444 in the mail or a payment date from “Get My Payment,” but have not received your payment, you can request a payment trace.

IRS stimulus payment recipients lash out against Trump’s ‘vanity letter’

To trace your payment, call 800-919-9835 or submit IRS Form 3911, which, under normal circumstances, is used for an issue with a refund. You can download the form at, but don’t expect too much going this route. The IRS is still not processing correspondence received through the mail. And the phone assistance will test your patience.

“Taxpayers contacting the EIP phone line should be aware we are open with limited staffing and expect recorded assistance or long wait times for an assister,” the agency said in a statement. “Taxpayers should not request a payment trace if they are trying to determine if they are eligible or what payment amount they should have received. You must have been issued the EIP Notice 1444 or received a payment date from Get My Payment to perform a trace.”

No stimulus payment: The IRS continues to issue payments based on recently filed tax returns and to some individuals with foreign addresses who are awaiting payment, according to IRS spokesman Eric Smith.

If you haven’t filed a federal tax return for 2018 or 2019 or your income is too low, you won’t receive an automatic stimulus payment unless you use the non-filer tool at to provide simple information to the IRS.

The EIP payment is an advance credit for 2020. Stimulus payments must be made by Dec. 31, so there’s still time. If you receive Social Security retirement, survivor or disability, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Railroad Retirement benefits or Veterans Affairs benefits, you are supposed to get an automatic payment. If you haven’t gotten the money, it may still be on the way.

If you don’t receive payment by the end of the year, you’ll still have an opportunity to get the stimulus funds. It’s not ideal if you’re struggling now, but you can get the money when you file your 2020 federal return next year.