Did The IRS Send Your Stimulus Check to H&R Block By Mistake?

Photo: Scott Eells/Bloomberg/Getty Images.
People have understandably been refreshing their bank apps and the IRS Get My Payment portal every minute to see if their $600 stimulus payment has arrived. Yesterday, though, the internet started buzzing about a new possible reason why some people still haven’t received their $600: The IRS deposited the money to the wrong accounts, all thanks to a mix-up involving tax preparation services like H&R Block and TurboTax. Instead of the stimulus check going into people's personal bank accounts, the $600 was going to tax preparation pass-through accounts. Great.
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H&R Block’s Twitter account explained that one way to tell if this happened to you is if you see an unrecognized bank account number on the IRS Get My Payment portal. If so, it may be because you opted to use H&R Block’s Refund Transfer service, which lets you authorize the company to take its fees directly out of your tax refund, as well as allows them to send you the remainder of the refund via direct deposit, check, or a debit card. This is where the problem with stimulus payments comes into play.
H&R Block explained that while most transfers addressing this error would be made by the end of January 4th, according to some H&R Block customers on Twitter, it seems like that’s not the case. Many customers also expressed confusion, frustration, and anger at the error and lack of clarity on why it occurred.
That said, not everyone who used the Refund Transfer or similar services with their tax preparer has experienced this mix-up — and not everyone whose stimulus was sent to an unrecognized account used the Refund Transfer service, it seems. It’s possible that the “unrecognized” account number on your Get My Payment status is the number associated with the Direct Express debit card that some Americans will receive their stimulus payments through.
What adds to the bewilderment is that some people who claim they received their first stimulus payment via direct deposit without a problem haven’t seen the second drop into their accounts yet — it’s unclear why the money was sent to the right place the first time around, but not the second time.
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One possibility for why the same direct deposit information wasn’t used is that for the first stimulus, some people had not yet filed their 2019 tax returns — Tax Day was postponed to July 15th in 2020. Whether pulling the direct deposit info from newer 2019 returns instead of 2018 returns played a role in this error is not confirmed, however. The IRS has posted an announcement acknowledging the error, reassuring people that the stimulus payments are on their way and urging them not to call them or their tax preparation companies, presumably due to an overload of inquiries right now. The IRS notes that the direct deposits may take a few days to post into your personal bank account. The IRS announcement did not elaborate on the nature of the error or why it happened.
Some people have reported that their tax preparation service has been depositing back not the full $600 but odd amounts under that — which adds another layer of confusion to this saga.
And of course, as always, people are memeing through this debacle.
"The IRS is the sole party with the ability to determine eligibility and distribute stimulus payments," a spokesperson for Intuit, the parent company of TurboTax, told Refinery29. "As part of the income tax filing, the IRS receives accurate banking information for all TurboTax filers who receive a tax refund, which the IRS is able to use to deposit stimulus payments."
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The Intuit spokesperson also said that, according to the IRS: "Because of the speed at which the IRS issued this second round of payments, some payments may have been sent to an account that may be closed or no longer active. By law, the financial institution must return the payment to the IRS, they cannot hold and issue the payment to an individual when the account is no longer active." Furthermore: "While the IRS is exploring options to correct their issue, they have stated that this may cause a delay in stimulus payments for some," the spokesperson said.
If you used a tax preparation service other than H&R Block or TurboTax, it’s still possible that this error applied to your stimulus payment as well. Your tax preparer may deposit the amount back to you, or it may reject the deposit from the IRS, at which point the stimulus payment will be mailed and not direct deposited. If the IRS does not send your check, debit card, or direct deposit by the end of January, you’ll have to claim it through your next tax return and it’ll be issued to you as part of your refund.
Refinery29 has reached out to H&R Block for comment, and will update this story if we hear back.

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