The Internal Revenue Service told financial institutions to expect roughly 90 million direct deposits amounting to $242.2 billion on March 17 in the initial distribution of the American Rescue Plan stimulus payments, according to a banking industry group.

Following the deposits, the IRS mailed an additional 150,000 checks amounting to $442 million, with a pay date of March 19, according to the Independent Community Bankers of America, based on a briefing from the IRS.

“Additional batches of payments will be sent in the coming weeks with the vast majority sent by direct deposit,” the group said in an online update to banking members. “Payments will also be sent through the mail as a check or debit card.”

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The American Rescue Plan provides a third round of direct stimulus payments, up to $1,400 for individuals, $2,800 for couples, and an additional $1,400 for each dependent regardless of age.

If you haven’t received your deposit, here’s some information that may help you figure out when your money will arrive and what to do if you get your funds on a prepaid debit card.\

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why could some people get access to their money earlier than March 17?
  • How can I track my stimulus payment?
  • Why does the ‘Get My Payment’ tool say ‘Payment Status Not Available?’
  • Why does the ‘Get My Payment’ tool give me a message that says ‘Need More Information?’
  • I was eligible for the full $1,400 based on my 2020 return, but I only received a partial direct deposit payment. What should I do?
  • What should I do if I didn’t get a direct deposit?

Why could some people get access to their money earlier than March 17?

The IRS announced that the settlement date for the initial wave of economic-impact payments by direct deposit would be March 17.

Some people have been upset that others have had access to the direct deposit before the March 17 date. But nothing nefarious is happening at those institutions that didn’t make the money available sooner, according to Nacha, the organization that governs the Automated Clearing House (ACH) Network.

“Banks and credit unions will make funds from direct deposits available to their customers by the same day that they receive the funds from the IRS,” according to Mike Herd, senior vice president of ACH Network Administration at Nacha. “Banks and credit unions are not delaying the payments, nor are they earning interest on funds they don’t have.”

Nacha said in a statement that its rules require that banks and credit unions make the funds available to the account holders by 9 a.m. local time on the settlement date.

“It is up to the sender — in this case, the IRS — to decide when it wants the money to be made available,” Nacha said in its statement. “This is literally the moment in time when the money will be transferred from the government to banks’ and credit unions’ settlement accounts at the Federal Reserve. There is no mystery where the money is from; the time the first payment file was transmitted on Friday, March 12, to when all recipients will have access to the money on Wednesday — it is still with the government.”

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How can I track my stimulus payment?

You can check the status of your stimulus payment by using the “Get My Payment” tool at irs.gov, which is available in English and Spanish.

Federal benefit recipients — such as those receiving Social Security retirement benefits, survivor or disability benefits, Supplemental Security Income, Railroad Retirement benefits or veterans benefits — can also use the tool to check their payment status.

Since this past weekend, more than 35 million people have used the “Get My Payment tool” and received the status of their stimulus payments, the IRS said. The tool is updated regularly as additional information becomes available, the agency said.

Just be aware that some people have reported trouble accessing the tool. And no point in calling the IRS. If you get locked out — you get three attempts — you’ll have to wait 24 hours before trying again.

Why does the ‘Get My Payment’ tool say ‘Payment Status Not Available?’

The IRS says if you get this message, either the agency hasn’t processed your payment yet, it doesn’t have enough information to issue a payment or you’re not eligible to receive the third-round economic-impact payment.

Why does the ‘Get My Payment’ tool give me a message that says ‘Need More Information?’

It’s likely that the IRS tried to mail a payment and it was undeliverable. If you get this message, you may be able to use the “Get My Payment” tool to enter bank account information, which will allow the agency to send you a payment via direct deposit.

However, only people who get this message can use the tool to provide their bank account information, the IRS said on an information page about using the “Get My Payment” tool.

I was eligible for the full $1,400 based on my 2020 return, but I only received a partial direct deposit payment. What should I do?

The IRS may have used your 2019 tax return. It’s possible, based on that return, you weren’t entitled to the maximum $1,400 stimulus payment because you earned too much.

For the third round of payments, eligible individuals with an adjusted gross income of $75,000 or less are entitled to the full $1,400. The ceiling is $112,500 for individuals filing as head of household and $150,000 for couples filing jointly.

However, taxpayers will not receive a third payment if their adjusted gross income exceeds $80,000 if filing as single or married people filing separately, $120,000 if filing as head of household, or $160,000 if married and filing a joint return, or if filing as a qualifying widow or widower.

Fortunately, the IRS said it will be reviewing 2020 returns and, if a taxpayer is entitled to more money, the agency will adjust the return and automatically issue the remaining balance. So, additional payments will be made as the IRS continues processing tax returns.

The IRS has until the end of the year to issue the 2021 economic impact payments. If for some reason you’re eligible for the stimulus funds but still haven’t received the money, you can claim it on your 2021 return when you file next year.

What should I do if I didn’t get a direct deposit?

It’s possible the IRS will be mailing you a check or a prepaid debit card with your stimulus payment. So, check your mail carefully. Many people in both the first and second round of stimulus payments mistook the debit card for junk mail.

The debit card is issued by the Treasury Department’s financial agent, MetaBank.

How can I avoid paying fees on the debit card?

To avoid fees, move the money from the prepaid debit card to your bank account. MetaBank says instructions for the most recent debit card are coming, but based on previous rounds, you would have to use the Money Network Mobile App or go online to eipcard.com to transfer the stimulus payment.

You can also use the card at an ATM, but to avoid fees, you’ll have to find a machine that’s “in-network.” It’s similar to how you can avoid an ATM fee by using one operated by your own financial institution. If you use a foreign or “out-of-network” machine, you may be charged two fees, one by MetaBank and one by the operator of the ATM. Be sure to click the box to find a “surcharge-free” ATM.