Delayed stimulus checks should arrive by February, tax firms say

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Millions of Americans whose stimulus checks got caught up in an Internal Revenue Service snafu should receive them by early February if they haven’t already, tax preparation firms say.

The IRS is working to fix a mistake that caused it to send millions of $600 coronavirus relief payments to closed or inactive bank accounts, forcing taxpayers to wait as the money bounced back to the feds.

Those temporary accounts were set up for customers by tax preparers, who say they’re working with the IRS to get the money to the right place in the coming weeks.

Jackson Hewitt and Republic Bank told customers that their so-called economic impact payments will be processed and deposited by Feb. 1, while Iowa-based TaxAct said the money will start hitting its affected customers’ accounts on that date.

The IRS is working to process the payments again and will re-issue them later this month, it said Monday, noting that tax companies aren’t in possession of the money. The affected taxpayers will either see the funds deposited directly into their bank accounts or receive a paper check, officials said.

“The IRS regrets the inconvenience and greatly appreciates the assistance of our tax industry partners in helping accelerate a resolution of this issue,” the agency said in a statement.

Americans who used other tax firms may already have their checks. H&R Block had processed all of its customers’ stimulus payments as of Jan. 6, according to a spokesperson, and TurboTax said the delayed deposits started arriving on Friday.

The IRS’s efforts to correct its error means affected taxpayers will get the stimulus funds sooner than if they had claimed them on their 2020 tax returns, which the agency initially said they would have to do.

But some tax companies slammed the IRS for making the mistake in the first place.

“We considered this chain of events absolutely unacceptable and worked tirelessly with the highest levels of the US Treasury Department, the IRS (including the IRS Commissioner), and other parts of the federal government to find a solution that ensured our customers would get what they were owed as quickly as possible,” Mark Steber, New Jersey-based Jackson Hewitt’s chief tax information officer, said in a blog post.

TaxAct said it offered the IRS solutions that would have allowed the payments to be delivered as soon as next week.

“Unfortunately, they chose their own path that does not as quickly help the people most affected by the pandemic,” the company said on Twitter.

“While we are disappointed the IRS was unable to correct its error sooner, it has accepted responsibility for the delay,” Kentucky-based Republic Bank said in a statement on its website.

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