Stimulus check 3: Why your $1,400 might be held up

Illustration of hundred-dollar bills and a check from the U.S. Treasury poking out of a manila envelope against the backdrop of the American flag.
(Image credit: ungvar/Shutterstock)

 The stimulus checks provided by the Biden administration's $1.9 trillion relief package — passed by the House last week — have already started showing up in bank accounts. 

But some Americans may experience delays or receive incorrect amounts as the government rushes to process payments. 

The bill, known as the American Rescue Plan Act, was signed into law on Thursday afternoon (March 11), and the IRS began sending out direct deposits the following day. 

Recipients saw pending payments hit their accounts starting on Saturday, though banks have reported that it may take several days for deposits to clear and for the cash to be available for withdrawal. 

Both Wells Fargo and Chase Bank customers, for example, can expect to have access to their funds by Wednesday (March 17), according to the company's Twitter feeds

There are a few other reasons you may not see stimulus check 3 immediately. 

You didn't file taxes in 2019 and haven't yet filed for 2020. The Treasury Department relies on tax return information to determine stimulus-check eligibility. For previous relief payments, non-filers could enter their information separately to receive a check. But that tool is no longer available, so the only way to get what you're owed if the IRS doesn't have your information already is to file a 2020 return. 

You have a new address or bank account. If your account number or mailing address has changed since the last round of checks, your direct deposit or paper check may be issued to the wrong place. Unfortunately, the IRS will have to reissue your payment via mail. 

You filed your tax return on paper instead of electronically. The IRS is still processing paper returns from 2019, a delay that is expected to continue with 2020 returns. 

Your deposit was sent to the wrong account. Technical issues with third-party tax-filing software has caused some payments to go to the wrong accounts. Again, you may have to wait for a reissued paper check if this happened to you. 

You're set to receive a check or debit card. Some payments are being issued by mail instead, which will take longer to arrive. 

There's also a possibility that even if you receive your stimulus payment quickly, it'll be for the wrong amount. If you had a child in 2020 but haven't yet filed your 2020 tax return, your check won't account for the new dependent. 

Similarly, if you made less money last year than in 2019 but haven't filed for 2020, you may receive less than what you qualify for — or nothing at all. However, the IRS will send you a check if you're eligible once you've completed your 2020 return.

How much is stimulus check 3? 

This round of direct payments totals $1,400 per person for single-filing taxpayers earning up to $75,000  and joint-filing couples earning up to $150,000. Dependents are also eligible for the full amount, meaning a family of four can expect to receive up to $5,600. 

If you make between $75,000 and $80,000 as an individual ($150,000–$160,000 as a couple), you'll get a prorated check. Those making more than $80,000 or $160,000, respectively, do not qualify for any stimulus money. 

Emily Long

Emily Long is a Utah-based freelance writer who covers consumer technology, privacy and personal finance for Tom's Guide. She has been reporting and writing for nearly 10 years, and her work has appeared in Wirecutter, Lifehacker, NBC BETTER and CN Traveler, among others. When she's not working, you can find her trail running, teaching and practicing yoga, or studying for grad school — all fueled by coffee, obviously.