Nobody can take your stimulus check from you, right? Not quite. Here are the rules

Nobody can take your stimulus check from you, right? Not quite. Here are the rules

The IRS has sent out over 160 million economic stimulus payments through direct deposit to your bank account, a physical check in the mail or on a prepaid EIP debit card. Others, however — including some older adults, retirees, SSDI recipients, some who aren’t American citizens and those who are incarcerated — had to take an extra step to claim their payment.

But if your payment did not arrive as expected — for example, your check never showed up or if it did, it was lower than you anticipated — there may be a explanation beyond the IRS making a mistake. Though the payment comes with rules protecting your stimulus check from being seized by your landlord or for back taxes, there are exceptions regarding the first check, which would likely carry over to a second — when and if negotiations produce a new stimulus bill.


Here’s what we know about who could seize all or part of your stimulus money. (And when we think a second check could come.)

Unpaid debts and your stimulus payment

The CARES Act includes protections to keep state and federal agencies from taking all or part of your stimulus check to cover most debts owed to the government (see below for a big exception). Private banks and creditors may, however, be able to seize a payment to cover an outstanding debt. Some states, such as California, have issued orders forbidding banks and creditors from garnishing your stimulus check.

Although negotiations on a second rescue package are currently at a standstill, the most recent proposals on the table would in most cases prohibit creditors and banks from seizing the payment to pay debts. Likewise, the IRS said you are not required to hand your check over to care facilities, like nursing homes, or to landlords to cover expenses.

Overdue child support and your check

The CARES Act blocked state and federal agencies from taking a stimulus check to cover government debts such as an income tax debt, but it does not exclude seizing a payment to cover past-due child support.

If parents are separated or divorced, only the spouse who owes child support will have the payment garnished. According to the IRS, if a spouse does not owe child support, they will receive their portion of the payment and do not need to take any action to receive it…Read more>>