stimulus checks

We’re Answering Your Stimulus Payment Questions

NBC Bay Area viewers are sending us lots of questions about the federal stimulus payments.

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UPDATE, May 20: The IRS this week started sending out stimulus payments to millions via prepaid debit cards, and the agency launched a new hot line to help guide people through the debit card use: 1-800-919-9835.

UPDATE, May 5: An IRS spokesperson tells NBC Bay Area the Treasury Department now says families who received stimulus payments for deceased relatives should return the money. The IRS has not yet announced how this should be done. We have updated this story accordingly, and we will follow up once we learn more from the IRS.

The IRS says it's sending stimulus payments of up to $1,200 per person to 80 million Americans this week. But the process hasn't been easy for everyone. Here are some of the most common questions and complaints submitted by NBC Bay Area viewers and readers:

I'm on Social Security Income or Disability. I don't pay federal income tax. Will I get a payment? If so, when?

Giovanni in Santa Rosa tells us he's on both SSI and SSID. Lorie in Dublin asked us about her elderly parents, who don't file an income tax return.

The answer for both Lorie's parents, and Giovanni, is yes - you will receive a payment. If you're in the same category, the IRS says you don't have to do anything. However, your payment may come a little later. The U.S. Social Security Administration says these payments will arrive "no later than early May."

The IRS doesn't have up-to-date bank account information for me. What can I do?

For people whose bank information has changed, or who didn't file an income tax return for either 2018 or 2019, the IRS has set up a new portal to let you update your payment information. Click here to access the portal.

I received a payment for a family member who recently died. What should I do?

The IRS set up its payment system to send stimulus payments to most Americans who paid income tax or received Social Security benefits in 2018 or 2019. We've seen several reports of people who say they received a payment intended for a parent or spouse who passed away since then.

On April 29, CNBC reported Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said families should plan on returning the money. On May 5, an IRS spokesperson told NBC Bay Area the IRS had not yet determined how people should return payments made to deceased relatives.

Until new guidance is issued by the Treasury Department, families who receive these payments should not spend them.

I tried to check my payment status, and I found an error with my name / Social Security Number / address / bank account. What can I do?

This is one of the top questions we've received. Unfortunately, the best advice we can offer right now is to wait. The IRS will send a letter to everyone who should have received a payment, within 15 days of the payment going out. If you receive the letter, but never got a payment, the letter will explain what to do.

Help! I need to talk to the IRS, but I can't get a hold of anyone.

Right now, many IRS employees are working from home, and the agency is overwhelmed with questions and complaints about stimulus payments and taxes. In fact, the IRS posted a message on its website that specifically says "Please, do NOT call the IRS."

We called the IRS phone line during business hours on Friday. A computerized voice told us the agency is "unable to provide live assistance." We'll let you know if that changes.

In the meantime, the IRS is frequently updating its stimulus payments website with answers to common questions.

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