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Here's what to know now that the IRS has stopped sending stimulus checks

How to see if your second payment is still on the way, why some may have to wait weeks or months for their money to arrive and what to do next if you still don't receive your stimulus check.

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The IRS deadline to send out stimulus checks has passed. Now what?

Sarah Tew/CNET

You never got your second stimulus checks and the deadline has passed -- what should you do if your $600 stimulus payment hasn't arrived yet? You can plan to claim it when tax-filing season opens Feb. 12. (That goes for tax nonfilers, too.) Or is there still a chance your money went out before the deadline and is on its way to your mailbox? Your direct deposit payment could also be stuck in a tax-preparer issue with the IRS and direct deposit.

Either way, if your check hasn't appeared by Feb. 12 when the IRS officially begins to process tax returns, you can claim your outstanding $600 payment for each qualifying adult and child dependent in the form of a Recovery Rebate Credit on your 2020 federal tax return.

We'll explain all the information you need to gather to find or claim your missing payment -- including three options to help track (and even trace) your stimulus money now, how to match your stimulus estimate to what you actually receive and how claiming a stimulus check credit could make your late payment come even slower to arrive. Yes, this includes any makeup payments for missing kids plus any money from your first check that you didn't get. (And here's what to know about a third stimulus check, including how quickly the new payment might come and how much money you might get.) This story was recently updated.

Start by tracking your stimulus check or EIP card. It could possibly still arrive in the mail this week

The IRS and Treasury sent paper checks at a much faster clip this time than last, but it isn't clear how many remain undelivered. Since the USPS may need a few days to sort and deliver your physical check or EIP card if the IRS sent it out before the Jan. 15 deadline it may be possible you'll receive it in the next few days.

The first thing you should do is use the IRS Get My Payment tool to get tracking information about your second stimulus check. It'll give you a general payment schedule, the total amount you should expect to receive, and flag any problems you may need to look into -- like if there's an error message or if the tool says the stimulus money was sent weeks ago and you never got it.

Then, if the IRS Get My Payment tool says it's coming, use this free USPS service to track your stimulus check to your mailbox

Now playing: Watch this: Second stimulus checks: Everything you need to know
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Direct deposit: What to know about where your payment is now

The IRS and Treasury said they have sent over 100 million stimulus payments through direct deposit this time around, a payment method that allows the agency to process many more payments faster. However, the IRS' tracking tool didn't let people sign up for or change their direct deposit information this time around. And some people reported problems with checks being sent to the wrong bank account, which means millions haven't been able to receive their stimulus payments that way. 

If the IRS didn't already have your banking information, you have no choice but to wait for the mail. If there's a problem with your payment, you'll need to file a claim during tax time (more below.) If you didn't get your second stimulus check this way, but want to receive a future third stimulus check through direct deposit, you'll want to register with the IRS on your 2020 tax return.

Read more: Direct deposit with the IRS: 3 big benefits, and how to sign up in Tax Season 2020

It's possible you'll need to request a payment trace with the IRS

Another way to track your missing stimulus check is through a payment trace. This gets a bit complicated, but we have a guide to walk you through the IRS payment trace process. There are several scenarios that may apply to you, but it boils down to the IRS saying it sent a stimulus check you never received.

The IRS won't begin processing your missing payment until Feb. 12 -- at the soonest

Here's the bad news. If you're missing all or part of what the IRS owes you with your first or second stimulus check, there's no way around waiting until at least the middle of February to see your check. Feb. 12 is the IRS' first day of opening up tax filing, so you'll have to wait. You can, however, begin to prepare now, buy learning what you need to know and gathering your necessary documents. That applies as well to people who aren't normally required to file taxes.

We recommend using the first stimulus calculator and second stimulus calculator to get an estimate -- you'll need to claim the amount as a Recovery Rebate Credit as part of the 2020 Tax Season to claim the money. Any credit would either offset the amount you owe, or get bundled into your tax refund.

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When you get your stimulus money could depend on how soon you're able to file your taxes.

Sarah Tew/CNET

If you wait to file taxes, it'll take longer to get your stimulus money

Now that we are past the cutoff, the timing of your stimulus check delivery is now inextricably linked to your taxes. Feb. 12 is the first day you can file your taxes, including the Recovery Rebate Credit to get your errant second stimulus payment. But you'll have until April 15 to file taxes and some people may request a tax extension beyond that.

How soon you submit your taxes for 2020 could have a direct effect on how quickly the IRS is able to process your return. People who file their returns in February would likely receive their stimulus check credit months before people who wait until the April 15 deadline or later.

If you moved recently, you need to tell the IRS and USPS

If you've recently moved, be sure to tell the IRS and USPS so you can get any stimulus money owed to you (and a third stimulus check, too). You also need your updated address on file so you can receive your confirmation letter from the IRS (you'll need this if you have to file a claim.)

The IRS doesn't want you to call if you have an issue

Sorry, it's true. In May 2020, the IRS hired 3,500 telephone operators to help field incoming calls about the first stimulus check. Now its website implores you not to call. 

"Please do not call the IRS about the new payment; our phone assistors do not have additional information beyond what's available here on IRS.gov and in the Get My Payment application," the IRS website says.

Here's what the agency wants you to do instead, including initiating a payment trace (see above).

What if you're a Social Security benefits recipient, an older adult, don't file taxes, you pay or receive child support or are incarcerated?

There may be some specific scenarios that have specific rules or exceptions. We're trying to get answers from the IRS, but until then, here's what we know about stimulus check money in general for:

For more information, here are the most important stimulus check details to know, here's how a third stimulus check might happen, all the ways it could bring you more money and how to calculate your share of a $2,000 check.