The IRS said it is mailing 8 million prepaid Visa debit cards loaded with a federal stimulus payment, advising people to keep an eye open for the envelopes if the funds aren't directly deposited in their bank accounts.
The tax agency also said it has changed the envelopes to make it more evident that they include the $600 check, which Congress approved in late December as a way to offer millions of Americans additional financial relief as the economy struggles to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.
Last spring, some people discarded their prepaid debit cards loaded with the first round of stimulus money because the envelopes weren't clearly marked as coming from the IRS or Treasury Department. The IRS said the latest batch of debit cards will be mailed in a white envelope with a label that "prominently displays" the Treasury seal.
"IRS and Treasury urge eligible people who don't receive a direct deposit to watch their mail carefully during this period," the IRS said in a statement.
The agency started delivering the second round of stimulus checks into millions of bank accounts this week, providing $600 for each eligible adult and child. Because the IRS doesn't have bank account information for all those who are eligible for payments, it is also sending paper checks as well as prepaid debit cards to millions of households.
The IRS said people should not assume they will receive their mailed stimulus payment via the same method they did in the spring, when the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provided $1,200 for each eligible adult and $500 per child.
"Taxpayers should note that the form of payment for the second mailed [stimulus payment] may be different than the first mailed [payment]," the IRS said in a statement. "Some people who received a paper check last time might receive a prepaid debit card this time, and some people who received a prepaid debit card last time may receive a paper check."
The IRS has rushed to send the latest checks after the stimulus payments were signed into law on December 27 by President Donald Trump. In the initial round of payments authorized last year under CARES, it required weeks and sometimes months to distribute the payments to more than 160 million households.
The money has gone out faster this time around, with the checks deposited directly into millions of bank accounts on January 4 — a little over a week following Mr. Trump's signature. But that's come with some errors, with an estimated 13 million checks reportedly sent to closed or inactive bank accounts.
People whose checks were sent to closed or inactive accounts may have to wait weeks or months to receive their second stimulus checks. Financial institutions by law must return the checks sent to closed or inactive accounts, and the IRS said that recipients affected by this error may need to wait to file their 2020 taxes, when they can claim the stimulus payment as a tax rebate.
The IRS typically begins accepting tax returns for the prior calendar year at the end of January and starts processing them in February, which means a wait of at least several weeks until those people receive their stimulus checks via their tax refund.
First published on January 8, 2021 / 1:56 PM