1 in 4 Americans Reported Problems With Their Economic Impact Payment

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Updated on Tuesday, June 16, 2020

In response to the economic damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. government agreed to dole out economic impact payments to eligible Americans as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. As of early June, the IRS had sent out 159 million economic impact payments — with the standard amount being $1,200 per eligible adult — totaling $267 billion in relief funds.

Still, a recent MagnifyMoney survey of over 1,000 Americans reveals that for many, the economic impact payment process has not happened without a hitch. In fact, a staggering 1 in 4 Americans say they have experienced a problem with their economic impact payment.

Key findings

  • Our survey found that 1 in 4 Americans reported a problem with their economic impact payment. Among those who encountered a problem, the most common issue was qualifying for a check but never receiving one (41%).
  • About 1 in 7 — or 13% — of those who received an economic impact payment said it “barely made a dent” in helping their financial situation. Those who were laid off or furloughed due to the pandemic are especially struggling, as 18% said the stimulus check did not help.
  • About 27% of consumers say they are “counting on” getting another round of stimulus checks. That number grows when looking at a few surprising demographics, including a third of Republicans and a stunning 39% of those with a household income of $100,000 or more.
  • Parents of children under the age of 18 are counting on getting another stimulus check more than any other demographic. Of parents surveyed, 41% reported needing the money, which is the highest percentage of all of the demographics we looked at across age, gender, employment status, income and political party.

Most common problems with the stimulus checks

Overall, our survey found that a staggering 1 in 4 Americans has experienced some kind of problem with their economic impact payment. For those who did report having a problem, the most prevalent issue to plague respondents was that they have qualified for a check, but have not received one yet (41%).

Of those who reported having a problem with their economic impact payment, other common issues that our survey respondents experienced included:

  • Receiving a check that they qualified for but receiving more than they should have (24%)
  • Receiving a check that they qualified for but receiving less than they should have (15%)
  • Receiving a check that they did not qualify for (5%)
  • Receiving a check for a deceased family member (6%)

Meanwhile, 8% of survey respondents that reported having a problem did not specify what that problem was.

For those who did respond that they had experienced an issue with their economic impact payment, many took action to resolve the issue. Specifically, we found that 28% called the IRS, 16% returned the money to the IRS, 13% checked with a financial advisor and 12% contacted the IRS over social media. Meanwhile, 25% of respondents said that they have not done anything yet but intend to, while a surprising 16% don’t intend to remedy the problem at all.

Ultimately, more than half (54%) of those who initially reported a problem were able to get the issue resolved. However, that still leaves a large portion (39%) waiting for answers.

Stimulus checks didn’t help all Americans – yet many are counting on a second round

The economic impact payments were initially sent out to Americans in April, and our survey reveals that they have since financially helped out many Americans — but not all.

Overall, we found that while 48% of respondents who received a check said that it helped their financial situation a bit and 39% said it helped their financial situation significantly, 13% said it “barely made a dent.” Among the most prevalent of those who said their economic impact payment did not help their financial situation were those in Gen Z and people who were laid off or furloughed due to the pandemic.

Our survey also revealed another interesting finding: A significant amount of Americans are counting on a second wave of economic impact payments. While Democratic lawmakers have been proposing a second round of economic impact payments, the legislation has a long way to go before becoming a reality. Still, 27% of survey respondents said they are “counting on getting another stimulus check,” while 35% said they are “hoping to receive another one” but are unsure if it will happen.

Those who are expecting to receive a second round of economic impact payments surprisingly include a third of Republicans and a stunning 39% of those with a household income of $100,000 or more. However, parents of children under 18 are counting on getting another stimulus check more than any other demographic, with 41% hoping for another round of funds.

What to do if you haven’t received your stimulus check yet

The U.S. Department of the Treasury and IRS announced on June 3 that 159 million economic impact payments, totaling over $267 billion, were sent out in the past two months. However, as our survey underscores, the U.S. government has acknowledged that not everyone who is eligible for an economic impact payment has received one yet, as the CARES Act allocated $300 billion toward the payments.

If you are eligible for an economic impact payment and are still waiting to receive yours, consider taking the following actions recommended by the U.S. Department of Treasury and the IRS:

  • If you do not normally file taxes and have not received your economic impact payment: Make sure you use the IRS’ Non-Filers Tool to submit basic personal information to the IRS to receive your payment. The tool will be available until October 15, and if you register by then you will receive your payment by the end of the year.
  • If you do file taxes and still have not received your economic impact payment: You will be able to claim your payment when you file your 2020 tax return. If you received your payment but didn’t receive the full amount you’re entitled to, you’ll also be able to claim the additional amount on your 2020 tax return, as well as any additional amounts you were entitled to for dependents but did not receive.

If you cannot wait, you can call the Economic Impact Payment line at 800-919-9835, though you should note that call volumes are currently high and you may experience longer waits.

Methodology

MagnifyMoney commissioned Qualtrics to conduct an online survey of 1,041 Americans, with the sample base proportioned to represent the overall population. We defined generations as the following ages in 2020:

  • Gen Z as ages 18 to 23
  • Millennials as ages 24 to 39
  • Gen X as ages 40 to 54
  • Baby boomers as ages 55 to 74
  • Silent generation as ages 75 and older

The survey was fielded June 2-3, 2020.

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