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No stimulus check yet? IRS bringing back phone operators

By Staff | May 21, 2020

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has been making direct deposits and mailing out economic impact (stimulus) payments of up to $1,200 per qualifying adult and $500 per qualifying dependent since April 2020. Stimulus payments were intended for those who filed a 2018- or 2019-income tax return showing income under certain thresholds ($75,000 for single filers, $112,500 for heads of household, and $150,000 for joint filers). To enable disabled veterans, senior citizens and low-income taxpayers who are not required to file an annual tax return but do meet those income thresholds, the IRS added tools to their website. Contacting the IRS by phone for any reason was not an option until last week.

Unfortunately, many disabled veterans and others over age 65 with income below the annual income tax return filing threshold did not have access to computers, smartphones or other means of accessing the IRS website. The IRS only reintroduced phone service last week, and IRS phone lines were only being minimally staffed. Despite the IRS stating on May 18 that 140 million of the 150 million payments have been sent out, many people have not yet received stimulus checks, and they have been unable to determine why. Numerous problems with stimulus payments have occurred during the past month including checks being mailed to invalid addresses, checks being mailed to deceased taxpayers, and money being sent to bank accounts no longer used by taxpayers.

To help accommodate those who still have not received their stimulus payments, the IRS is bringing back 3,500 of its telephone operators beginning today just to deal with calls regarding economic impact payments. Many taxpayers have not received their anticipated stimulus payments, and they have been unable to resolve the issue by using the IRS website. Live phone support is needed. Those without access to computers or smart phones could not submit their bank account information electronically through the IRS website, and they should now be able to check the status of their payments with a live operator.

The IRS stated this week that it also anticipates sending nearly 4 million stimulus payments by prepaid debit card instead of by paper check or direct deposit. The debit cards can be used for purchases or at ATMs. The cards will be mailed by MetaBank, the Treasury’s financial agent.

Although the IRS is adding staff to its call centers, wait times are still anticipated to be long. Callers can reach the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 to check on their stimulus payments. The IRS continues to have a website portal for checking stimulus payments online as well. The web address is: www.irs.gov/coronavirus/get-my-payment.

When calling the IRS or checking stimulus payment status through the IRS portal, a taxpayer must provide, at a minimum, his or her full name, current mailing address, email address, date of birth, and social security number. Hopefully, the expansion of the IRS call centers specifically to help eligible taxpayers who have not yet received a stimulus payment to resolve the issues causing the delay in their payments.

Mary Feichthaler is a licensed CPA and has 24 years of experience assisting individual, corporate and nonprofit clients in all areas of taxation including income tax compliance and audits, sales tax, FIRPTA and offers in compromise. She has lived in Cape Coral since 2002. She graduated magna cum laude from Georgetown University with a degree in accounting and graduated magna cum laude from Pace University with a Masters in Taxation.

Mary Feichthaler can be reached at mary@feichthalertax.com or at (239) 898-8522.

The information in this article is general in nature and not intended as tax advice to anyone. Individuals should consult with a licensed CPA before making any tax or investment decisions.