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No stimulus check yet from the IRS? How to track your third payment

Using the Get My Payment tracker from the IRS, you can get an update on the status of your third stimulus check, if you're still waiting for it.

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You can use the Get My Payment app to track stimulus money you're missing from the third check.

Sarah Tew/CNET

If you're not in the group that has already received the third stimulus check -- and the IRS has now sent more than 163 million payments since March -- you can use the IRS Get My Payment tracker to see the status of your payment, if the IRS has scheduled your money and find out what, if anything, is delaying your check for up to $1,400.

The tracking tools from the IRS and US Postal Service are the best ways to get the status of your paper check or EIP card so you can track it right to your mailbox. If you suspect your payment is lost or has gone missing, you'll likely need to file a payment trace. You could also be due a "plus-up" payment from the IRS if it underestimated the amount of your third check.

Yes, the IRS tracker tool is helpful, but it can also be difficult at times, showing you confusing error messages. The tool also may not tell you everything you want to know, but we'll help you navigate the system. While you're here, catch up on the latest details on a possible fourth check, and the child tax credit payment info if that applies to you -- including how much money you could get. Here's how to check if your state owes you money, how some people could get $50,000 back with these one-time benefits and how to claim up to $16,000 in child care expenses. This story is updated frequently.

What the IRS Get My Payment tracker can show you about the status of your stimulus check

To get an update of your third check using Get My Payment, enter your Social Security number, date of birth, street address and ZIP or postal code. The tool will then display a message with information about your payment. You can see things like whether your money was sent or is scheduled to be sent, the payment method (direct deposit, paper check or EIP card) and the date your stimulus money was issued. It may also say it can't yet determine your status -- see more below about error messages.

The IRS payment tracking tool does not seem to give you the status of a plus-up payment, if you are due one. CNET has contacted the IRS for clarification.

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Things the Get My Payment tracker app can't show you

If you're looking for these answers, you won't find them in the tool: how much stimulus money you're getting (calculate here), details about the first two stimulus checks approved in 2020 and hourly updates -- the status information is updated once daily (usually overnight). You also won't find steps for what to do if you run into payment problems.

The IRS doesn't want you to call if you have payment trouble, either. The agency says its representatives don't have information beyond what's shown in the tool. Here's what we recommend doing to address a stimulus issue.

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Why 'Payment Status Not Available' message is showing

Don't be alarmed if the Get My Payment tool gives you a message that says "Payment Status Not Available." You may see this message until your payment is processed, according to the IRS. So you may not have to do anything.

But it could also mean you're not eligible for a payment, according to the IRS. So you may want to double-check your eligibility and plug your numbers in our stimulus check calculator to see whether you're due money.

Why the 'Need More Information' message is showing

According to the IRS FAQ for the 2021 payment, a "Need More Information" message in the Get My Payment tool means your payment was returned because the US Postal Service wasn't able to deliver it.

The FAQ says you'll be able to have your payment reissued as a direct deposit by providing a routing and account number for a bank account, a prepaid debit card (the card must be reloadable, the IRS said) or a financial service account that has a routing and account number associated with it. The updated FAQ says you can also update your mailing address to receive your payment.

If the IRS tracker app says your payment was sent but you never got it, you'll need to take additional steps

If the IRS' online tool said the agency has issued your stimulus money, but you have no record of it in your bank account and it never arrived in your mailbox, you may need to take one of these steps, including possibly filing a stimulus check payment trace. You'll need to have the letter the IRS sent you; it can take 15 days for that letter to arrive in the mail.

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The IRS and US Treasury are sending the third round of stimulus payments.

Sarah Tew/CNET

If the IRS sends your check by mail, you can track it right to your mailbox

If your third stimulus check is going out in the mail, the US Postal Service has a free app that can notify you when it's about to deliver your stimulus money from the IRS. Called Informed Delivery, the mail-tracking service automatically scans your letters and alerts you to when they'll be delivered. Here's more on how to set up and use the letter-tracking service from the USPS to keep tabs on your payment.

Things veterans and SSI, SSDI beneficiaries need to know about their third stimulus check

The IRS tracking tool Get My Payment is designed to share the status of your third stimulus check. People who receive Social Security benefits like SSDI and SSI and veterans who don't file taxes can now see their payment status in the tracker tool. Tens of millions of Social Security recipients and veterans have already received their $1,400 payment.

Keep the IRS letter that confirms your stimulus check was sent. You might need it later

If the IRS issues you a stimulus check, it sends a notice by mail to your last known address within 15 days after making the payment to confirm delivery. The letter contains information on when and how the payment was made and how to report it to the IRS if you didn't receive all the money you're entitled to. You'll need to reference this information if you don't receive your full payment and need to claim your money later. Here's how to recover the information if you lost or tossed the letter.

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If your money is tied up in any way, the IRS Get My Payment tracking tool should indicate a problem.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Still never got a first or second stimulus check? This is what you should do 

The IRS is no longer automatically sending out the first and second payments that were approved in 2020. If you believe you're still owed money from either of those payment rounds, your best chance of claiming those funds is to file for the Recovery Rebate Credit as part of the 2020 tax season

If you're eligible, you'll need to know the amount of money the IRS allotted you, which you can find out online or from the letter the agency mailed. The IRS said the updated Get My Payment tracker won't give you information on the first and second checks. Instead, you need to set up and check your IRS account for information on those payments.

Sorry, you can't add your direct deposit info using the IRS payment tracking tool

The IRS stopped sending direct deposits for the third payment on March 24 -- unless you're a Social Security recipient -- but even before then, you couldn't use the Get My Payment tool to sign up for a new account or correct details about your payment. Even if the IRS is unable to deliver your payment to a bank account and the money is returned to the government, you won't be able to correct the details online -- the IRS says it will send the money again by mail.

That's a departure from the first stimulus check, when the IRS encouraged people to register using this tool. 

With the IRS officially extending the 2020 tax filing deadline to May 17 and delaying processing tax returns, trying to register for a new direct deposit account with your 2020 tax return won't get you into the system quickly enough. However, if you haven't submitted your taxes yet, signing up for a new direct deposit account could still get you any tax refund faster, and it could also help you receive other benefits quicker, such as a future child tax credit.

For more stimulus check details, here's everything to know about the third check. Here's every way the March 2021 stimulus bill can benefit you. And this is what we know so far about whether a fourth stimulus check could happen.