IRS owes 9 million people stimulus checks, but they have to register by Oct. 15. What to know


The IRS this month is contacting 9 million Americans who may still be owed economic stimulus money.

Angela Lang/CNET

After the IRS sent the bulk of the first stimulus check, the agency noticed something was wrong. One large group — an estimated 9 million people — didn’t receive their lawful payment. 

For the most part, the first wave of stimulus checks went out automatically this spring and summer, without the intended recipients having to do anything but meet the qualifications. But a subset of folks did have to take a further step, mainly people who typically don’t file their taxes, a group that can include older adults, retirees and SSDI recipients.

The IRS is now in the process of sending letters to people who may be eligible. But the window is closing for nonfilers to claim their $1,200 checks by the end of 2020. Oct. 15 is the cutoff date. We’ll tell you all you need to know.

Meanwhile, talks are still underway to cement a second stimulus check that could be part of a new coronavirus relief package — here’s where it stands in Washington. We’ve also mapped out when a potential second stimulus check could arrive and how much money you might receive. (CNET’s stimulus calculator tool can estimate that.)

Who are the nonfilers eligible to receive a stimulus check?

Among the 9 million the IRS started contacting last week are nonfilers who weren’t required to file a federal tax return for 2018 and 2019 and didn’t know they needed to submit an additional form with the IRS to claim a relief payment. 

How will the IRS contact me about my money?

The IRS will start sending the letters — which it calls IRS Notice 1444-A — around Sept. 24 to those who may be eligible. The agency said the letter will be mailed from an IRS address. You can see a copy of the letter here (PDF) in English and Spanish. The IRS cautions that receiving a letter doesn’t guarantee you are eligible for a payment.

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How do I claim my stimulus payment?

If you weren’t required to file a federal tax return, the letter directs you to use the IRS’ Non-Filers tool, where you can provide some information to claim your payment.

If you were required to file your federal taxes but didn’t, the letter directs you to electronically file your 2019 tax return immediately and then use the IRS’ Get My Payment to check the status of your payment.

What if I miss the Oct. 15 deadline?

Those using the Non-Filers tool need to request their payment by Oct. 15. Afterward, the only way to claim a payment will be to file a federal income tax return.

For more on economic impact payments have tips on how best to use your stimulus check, how to avoid being scammed and how young you can be and still get your own stimulus check money. Again, you can use our stimulus check calculator to get an estimate for how much you might receive.

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