9 million Americans still missing their $1,200 stimulus check — and there’s just 1 month left to claim it

The deadline to register for coronavirus relief is October 15. The IRS will begin sending letters this month, urging people who have not gotten their money to do so while they still can.

Jenny Teo | Twenty20

Roughly 9 million Americans haven't collected their $1,200 stimulus check from the IRS yet — and time is running out. October 15 is the last day to register to receive any missing coronavirus relief funds, according to a recent statement from the agency.

People who did not file a 2018 or 2019 federal tax return, and who don't usually file because they don't earn enough income, have until that date to claim the economic impact payment, which was already sent to those who did meet the taxable threshold and filed for those years.

As per the CARES Act, which was signed into law in mid-March, qualifying U.S. adults were entitled to up to $1,200 in aid per individual and $2,400 for married couples. And families were eligible for an additional $500 per child under 17, though there were some issues with the distribution of payments.

The IRS says it has used W-2s, 1099s, and other financial statements to identify Americans who still haven't gotten paid, and that it will begin mailing letters to them later this month, written in both English and Spanish, that include eligibility facts and details on how to get the money they're entitled to before it's too late.

Here's who may not yet have received a stimulus check

Americans who didn't automatically get the relief funds are not typically high-earners, and that further complicates the issue since they likely need the money more, Timothy Gagnon, an associate academic specialist in accounting at Northeastern University, tells Grow.

"If you don't make above the standard deduction, you don't need to file because there is no tax due. The people getting these letters — the college student who worked a summer job, the single person who's only getting unemployment benefits — have less cash flow coming in and could use the extra money," he explains. "Every little dollar helps."

The standard deduction is $12,400 for tax year 2020 and has steadily climbed year over year since 2018 when it jumped from $6,500 to $12,000 as a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

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How to make sure to get your stimulus check

You can use the IRS non-filers tool, which allows people to provide their banking information for direct deposits, to register for the economic impact payment if you qualify and haven't received one yet. More than 7 million people so far have used the tool to sign up, the IRS says.

It's worth noting that if you're a recipient of Social Security retirement, survivor or disability benefits; or get Veterans Affairs, Supplemental Security Income, or Railroad Retirement benefits, no action is needed on your part. Payments to federal beneficiaries are sent automatically.

And don't use the tool if you plan to file a prior-year tax return and haven't yet: "If you have a filing requirement and have not filed a tax return for 2018 or 2019, you must file a 2019 tax return to receive the payment," the IRS says, adding in a separate memo that "the best and fastest way to claim your [stimulus] is to electronically file your 2019 tax return immediately."

If you've already filed tax returns and still have not gotten paid, this checklist could help you figure out why and decide what to do next. But you shouldn't expect a check if your adjusted gross income is greater than $198,000 for married couples, $136,500 for heads of household, or $99,000 for individuals. You also don't qualify if someone claims you as a dependent.

The IRS letters, set to mail September 24, will come from the agency's address in order to cut down on fraud confusion, as scammers have already taken advantage of the pandemic to con victims out of at least $77 million this year.

An official copy of the letter is posted on

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Is more stimulus coming? How to plan for your financial future

More than 160 million Americans have already received their stimulus checks, according to IRS estimates. But others are still waiting, and doing so at a time when cash is tight and stress levels are high: A recent Harris Poll found that 48% of respondents worried about paying their bills, while another 41% were concerned they didn't have enough emergency savings.

Over 13 million Americans were receiving unemployment benefits as of August 2020, while another 7 million people not receiving benefits were still looking for work.

Lawmakers this month were unable to reach an agreement on a proposed "skinny" stimulus bill that would extend the $300-per-week in enhanced unemployment benefits. It isn't clear when the current funding will run out or if a second package will pass before the election.

Despite your financial situation, adding money to the bank is a plus. And while Americans are urged to capitalize on the stimulus funds available now, it makes sense to save, budget, and plan for the long term, too.

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