Last week, the National Taxpayer Advocate promised that help was on the way for some taxpayers who had missing or incomplete stimulus check payments.

Today, the Advocate delivered, explaining the kinds of problems that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will currently resolve, what some individuals need to do to receive a check, and how some taxpayers can claim the correct payment on their 2020 tax return. The Advocate also explained the types of cases the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) is equipped to handle, and how taxpayers can get help.  

National Taxpayer Advocate Erin M. Collins says, about the help, “… we have held continuing discussions with the IRS about these issues, and I am pleased that the IRS has agreed to correct EIP errors in certain categories of cases.”

Here’s how to fix some common stimulus check mistakes:

  1. If you are an individual who used the Non-Filer Tool before May 17 and claimed at least one qualifying child but did not receive the portion of the check attributable to the child, you don’t need to do anything just yet. The IRS is currently issuing those payments. If you have not received a check for the portion attributable to your qualifying child by the end of August, you can call the TAS.
  2. If you are an Injured Spouse with a Form 8379 for the return used to calculate your stimulus check and your portion was withheld, you don’t need to do anything just yet. The IRS is reissuing the Injured Spouse’s share of the stimulus check if it was erroneously withheld. If you have not received a check for the portion attributable to you by the end of August, you can call the TAS.
  3. If you are an Injured Spouse but do not have a Form 8379 for the return used to calculate your stimulus check and your portion was withheld, you need to fax or mail a completed Form 8379 as soon as possible (you can find out more about Injured Spouse here and you can download Form 8379 here). If, after you submit the form, you have not received a check for the portion attributable to you by the end of August, you can call the TAS.
  4. If you returned your stimulus check (or it was stopped or not issued) based on a joint return with a deceased or incarcerated spouse, you don’t need to do anything just yet. The IRS will recalculate the check and will make direct deposits or mail paper checks in the coming weeks. If you have not received a check by mid-September, you can call the TAS.
  5. If the amount of your check was based on a 2018 or 2019 tax return where the IRS identified a Math Error, and the Math Error has been resolved, you don’t need to do anything. The IRS should release the payment automatically.
  6. If the amount of your check was based on a 2018 or 2019 tax return where the IRS identified a Math Error, and the Math Error has not been resolved, you will need to work with the IRS to correct the error before your check can be adjusted and paid. The TAS can also help resolve the error so that you can receive your check.
  7. If you are the victim of identity theft and either did not receive a check or received an incorrect amount, your check can be adjusted as part of resolving the identity theft case. You should contact the IRS to resolve the identity theft issue. The TAS can also help resolve the identity theft issue so that you can receive your check.

Taxpayers who require additional information can call the stimulus check toll-free line at the IRS (1.800.919.9835) for general questions or assistance with a specific issue. If you are eligible for an additional payment, and you’re looking for tracking information, you should be able to track it by using the “Get My Payment” tool on the IRS website (you can read more about the tool here). 

If you are unable to resolve your issues with the IRS and are eligible for direct assistance (generally, you are one of the taxpayers identified in 1-7 above), and you meet TAS criteria, TAS can help. Affected individuals may reach TAS toll-free at 1.877.777.4778.

The TAS shouldn’t be your first stop for help. Typically, the TAS assists taxpayers who are experiencing some financial difficulty, emergency, or hardship, and the IRS needs to move much faster than it usually does (or even can) under its normal procedures; where many different IRS units and steps are involved, and the case needs a “coordinator” or “traffic cop” to make sure everyone does their part; where the taxpayer has tried to resolve a problem through normal IRS channels, but those channels have broken down; or where the taxpayer is presenting unique facts or issues (including legal issues), and the IRS is applying a “one size fits all” approach, isn’t listening to the taxpayer, or doesn’t recognize that it needs new guidance for those circumstances. You can read more about the TAS here.

For other scenarios, including a change in finances or the birth of a child in 2019 or 2020, you must wait until next year to receive additional payments. Some of those scenarios also include:

  1. If you did not file a 2018 or 2019 tax return and you did not receive an information return (SSA 1099 or RRB 1099) or SSI or VA Benefits, you need to use the Non-Filer Tool by October 15, 2020, to receive your check in 2020.
  2. If you did not file a 2018 or 2019 tax return and you did not receive an information return (SSA 1099 or RRB 1099) or SSI or VA Benefits, and you do not use the Non-Filer Tool by October 15, 2020, you will be able to claim your stimulus check when you file your 2020 tax return in 2021.
  3. If your stimulus check was based on your originally filed return and you later filed an amended return that increased the check, you can reconcile the difference when you file your 2020 tax return in 2021.
  4. If your stimulus check was calculated on your 2018 tax return and you want it calculated on your 2019 return, you can reconcile the difference when you file your 2020 tax return in 2021.
  5. If your stimulus check was based on an information return (SSA 1099 or RRB 1099) or SSI or VA benefits information provided to IRS, and you later filed a 2019 tax return or used the Non-Filer Tool, which increased your stimulus check amount, you can reconcile the difference when you file your 2020 tax return in 2021.
  6. If you receive SSA/RRB, VA, or SSI benefits and were deemed ineligible for a stimulus check because you were claimed as a dependent on another individual’s 2019 tax return, you can reconcile the difference when you file your 2020 tax return in 2021 (if appropriate).

If you fall into one of those categories (1-6 immediately above), unfortunately, the TAS cannot help you. But, as noted, there are fixes available which typically include reconciling the difference in 2021. You can also call the stimulus check toll-free line at the IRS (1.800.919.9835) for general questions.

The TAS is continuing to urge the IRS to resolve all stimulus check cases this year for those taxpayers still waiting.

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Author

Kelly Erb is a tax attorney, tax writer and podcaster.

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