Secure your missing stimulus checks as an American living abroad

Securing your stimulus checks as an American expat
Securing your stimulus checks as an American expat
5 min. read

Are you an American living abroad and still waiting for your first and second stimulus payments? If this is the case for you, this article will explain step-by-step how to secure your first and second stimulus payments through direct deposit - even if you don't have a US bank account.

If you are an American living abroad and have not yet received your stimulus payment, the IRS probably does not know where to send the checks. If you have never filed a U.S. tax return from abroad, it may very well be that the IRS does not have your foreign address or direct deposit information on file and has not mailed stimulus checks to you. Also, if you filed your tax return as an American living abroad, it may very well be that your stimulus checks got lost in the mail.

The good news is that you can still claim your missing stimulus payments. In order to secure your stimulus payments, we have outlined the following steps for you:

Step 1: Complete your 2020 tax return and claim the Recovery Rebate Credit

The first step is to complete your 2020 tax return with Expatfile. The IRS has introduced what is known as the Recovery Rebate Credit in the 2020 tax return. This credit allows you to claim your missing stimulus payments through your 2020 tax return. Since most expats do not owe any US taxes at all, they are entitled to a tax refund equal to their first and second stimulus checks. Expatfile's software automatically calculates the Recovery Rebate Credit for you based on your filing status and 2020 adjusted gross income.

Step 2: E-file your 2020 expat tax return

Once you've prepared your 2020 tax return, make sure to e-file your 2020 tax return. This is the fastest way to file your tax return with the IRS and also you can be sure that IRS has received your tax return. Expatfile is an IRS authorized e-file provider and allows you to e-file your tax return just by yourself – no middlemen needed. Also, you receive instant notifications from the IRS to see whether your return got accepted. Check out this article for more benefits of filing your expat tax return electronically.

Mailing in your expat tax return is not recommended since we understand that the IRS has a significant backlog of over 25 million tax returns that still need to be processed. We have even heard from clients that late filed 2019 tax returns are still not being processed. So, just make sure you e-file your tax return. From the time you e-file your tax return, the IRS usually takes 3 weeks to process your return.

Step 3: Use the direct deposit option to secure your refund

If you are entitled to a refund, you can include your electronic payment details - also known as direct deposit information - on your tax return. When the IRS processes your tax return, it will deposit the refund directly into your U.S. bank account. Therefore, direct deposit is the safest and fastest way to secure your tax refund.

Keep in mind that if you do not indicate direct deposit on your tax return, the IRS will send you a check that has the risk of getting lost in the mail (again). Also, the IRS states that checks can take up to 6 weeks after they process your tax return.

Not every American living abroad has a US bank account. Don't worry, it's pretty easy to create one with Wise (formerly TransferWise). Just create a multi-currency account in US dollars and get your US account number and routing number.

Step 4: Track your 2020 tax refund

Once you've filed your tax return electronically, you can track your refund status on the Check My Refund website at the IRS. It takes some time to update, but we recommend you check your refund status a few days after filing your expat tax return.

Please remember that this is a different website from Get My Payment, which is the IRS website where you can track your stimulus payments. We know from our users that it is almost impossible for Americans living abroad to use this website because it struggles with foreign addresses (this is not the case with the Check My Refund website).

How can Expatfile help? Expatfile has made filing your tax returns easy for expatriates. It's designed to reduce your tax filing time while ensuring you claim the best expat tax benefits. Simply answer our easy-to-understand questionnaire and based on your specific situation, our algorithm will maximize the most favorable expatriate tax benefits for you, including the Recovery Rebate Credit, and instantly generate your tax forms for your review. Once you are satisfied, all you need to do is file your tax return via our certified e-filing connection with the IRS and the wait for your refund can begin!