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Over 5 Million Unclaimed Economic Stimulus Checks

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There are currently over 5 million unclaimed economic stimulus checks being held by the IRS. The majority of the unclaimed economic stimulus checks belong to people who do not normally file income tax returns, such as people whose sole source of income is Social Security or veteran’s benefits. One of the factors causing the large number of unclaimed stimulus checks is getting the information out to people who normally do not file taxes. If you know anyone who may be in this situation, please do them a favor and let them know they might be eligible for a rebate.

Besides people who don’t normally file income taxes, there are others who have not yet received their economic stimulus check.

How to claim your economic stimulus check

Your rebate check should have automatically been sent to the address you used when you filed your taxes. If you haven’t yet received it, try these tips:

Use the official stimulus payment tracker. The first thing to do is try using the official stimulus payment tracker on the IRS web site. Input the information that is on your tax return, and follow the step by step instructions. You should find out where your rebate is.

Direct deposit or paper check? A lot of people who signed up for direct deposit, but used a third party tax preparation company such as TurboTax or TaxCut will receive paper checks because of a compatibility issue with the IRS software. This caused a lot of delays in people receiving their rebate checks. Taxpayers who received their refund on a prepaid debit card from a tax preparation company will receive their rebate by mail. Taxpayers who did not request Direct Deposit for their 2007 refund or provide the IRS their bank information when they paid taxes will also receive a paper check by mail.

Be patient. Keep in mind the stimulus checks can take up to 6 weeks to arrive, so it is possible the check is in route. If more than 6 weeks have passed since you were supposed to receive your rebate, go to the next step.

Contact the IRS. If that doesn’t work, try contacting the IRS at 1-866-234-2942. Again, be patient. IRS workers are receiving hundreds of calls daily, and need time to process your information. You will get much better results if you are friendly with the agent handling your claim.

Other reasons you may not have received your economic stimulus rebate

You moved. The IRS does not allow rebate checks to be forwarded. If you moved between the time you filed your tax return and the time the economic stimulus rebate check, you will need to file a Form 8822 with the IRS, and a change of address notice with the U.S. Postal Service. This will ensure your check is sent to your new address. Keep in mind there may be additional delays while the IRS processes your new information.

Your rebate check was garnished. By early June, the IRS garnished over $840M through the Treasury Offset Program. Since not all checks have been processed yet, that number may be closer to $1B in total garnishments. Your check may be garnished if you owe money for unpaid taxes, student loans, or child support. Taxpayers on a scheduled payment plan are not affected by the Treasury Offset Program. If your money was scheduled to be garnished, you should have received a notice.

You filed your taxes late. The IRS will continue processing stimulus checks through.. of this year. The rebates are based on taxpayers’ 2007 tax returns. Taxpayers who file extensions or file late should receive their checks later than regular filers. The checks will be sent out automatically; taxpayers don’t need to apply. You may receive your rebate as soon as 2 weeks after filing, but it may take up to six weeks to process your rebate check. A return must be filed by October 15 in order to receive a stimulus payment this year.

More information about Stimulus Checks and Missing Money

More information about the Economic Stimulus:

More information about unclaimed money: States keep track of unclaimed money with the intent of returning it to it rightful owner. It is free to search the state databases, and free to make a claim if you find money or assets that are rightfully yours. Keep this in mind if anyone ever offers to help you claim money that is yours. Read more about how to find missing money.


Published or updated March 1, 2011.
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