Only 29 percent of US expats have received their stimulus check
The US government is providing taxpayers with financial support during the coronavirus crisis, and US taxpayers who are living abroad are also eligible. But according to a survey by MyExpatTaxes, the only tax software company designed specifically for US expats, only 29 percent of US expats have actually received their stimulus payment.
You may have heard that the US government passed the stimulus check law in March, providing financial relief to struggling workers. Millions of US taxpayers rushed to receive their funds.
Americans living abroad also had the opportunity to obtain the stimulus check, starting at 1.200 dollars (more for families) for those who have an adjusted gross income up to a certain threshold.
While access to more money is favorable to everyone, a survey conducted by MyExpatTaxes in mid-March found that only 29 percent of US expats have actually received their stimulus payment. MyExpatTaxes surveyed hundreds of Americans abroad and asked them questions regarding their tax profile, and duration (if any) of receiving their stimulus payment.
Three key takeaways from the US expat stimulus check survey results
The results from the expat stimulus check survey show that, of the respondents:
- 62% have already filed their 2019 tax return.
- 29% have received their stimulus payments.
- 57% of those who received their stimulus payment reported that it took more than two weeks to get it after filing their 2019 tax return, with the majority stating it took at least four weeks or longer.
Startling results from US Expats
As of mid-March 2020, less than one-third of US expats had actually received their stimulus check. The results were even grimmer for Americans abroad who have not been filing their annual tax returns on a timely basis.
93 percent of US expats who did not already have a timely-filed 2018 tax return in the IRS system file were still waiting for their financial assistance fund.
US Expats who filed 2019 US taxes between February and May
Americans abroad who filed between the months of February and May also reported to the survey whether they had received their US expat stimulus check or not. The results were as follows:
- US expats who filed in February: 77% had already received their stimulus payment.
- US expats who filed in March:48% had already received their stimulus payment.
- US expats who filed in April: Only 38% had already received their stimulus payment.
- US expats who filed in May: A mere 19% had already received their stimulus payment.
Major issues for expats
The survey results also show that the IRS Get My Payment tool has been causing US expats the most problems, with more than 65 percent saying they have yet to see their information available in the IRS tool.
The following were the top issues reported by Americans abroad who have used the IRS Get My Payment portal:
- Seeing “payment status not available’’ after putting in personal information.
- Missing options to input correct data (i.e. foreign address, bank account details).
- The IRS portal was not accepting foreign addresses due to different foreign zip codes and lettering (i.e. ä, ö, ü).
- Expats were receiving the payment via direct deposit or paper check without being able to confirm their payment details on the IRS portal.
- Many US expats were unable to deposit the stimulus check through their local bank, making the government check even more difficult to use as an expat.
- The check was sent to the address from the 2018 tax return, and not the recipient’s current address.
- The IRS says the check was sent but the recipient didn’t receive it.
- Recipients with no US bank account are unsure of what to do with a US check.
Additionally, others were claimed accidentally as a dependent and thus couldn’t receive the check.
How US expats can receive their stimulus check
There is still time for US expats to receive their stimulus check - even if it comes late. It is still available, and you can even receive it on 2020 taxes. Why not take advantage of the opportunity and receive it as soon as possible?
The two most important points are to make sure you have a US bank account where you can receive direct deposit (or ensure your local bank will cash a US governmental check), and to file your 2019 tax return.
The deadline to file US taxes for this year is July 15, 2020, and in order to receive the stimulus check as an American abroad, you need to have filed a 2018 / 2019 return (if your income was over the filing threshold last year). If you need, you can also catch up on back taxes.
All in all, it’s possible to get tax compliant and receive a 1.200-dollar check, as long as you file and go through the process correctly!
Need some help getting your stimulus check? Check out the MyExpatTaxes guide. If you need to catch up on back taxes before getting the check, consider using the Streamlining Foreign Compliance Procedure. MyExpatTaxes also offers free filing extensions to October 15, 2020, if the July 15 deadline is approaching too fast.