IRS glitch sends taxpayers’ stimulus checks to tax prep companies instead

If you use a tax prep service and can't quite track your stimulus payment, your direct deposit information may be the reason for the delay.

You know the drill: You visit a tax prep service. They front your refund, minus the fees. Then the full amount is direct deposited to them once it's available.

That’s now creating confusion as the federal government tries to send money to millions.

For Terri Mason, life at home means lots of proble- solving, mostly for her 11-year-old grandson and his math homework. Now, she’s reaching out for help solving a problem of her own: her missing stimulus check.

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Photo by Jeff Fusco/Getty Images

When Mason used the IRS website to track her check, it turns out it had already been deposited.

“I looked in there, and it said my payment was deposited into an account that I had never used,” she said. “I’ve had the same checking account for 20 years.”

Mason is among the millions of Americans who use a tax prep service and whose tax return is generally direct deposited into the tax preparer's account. When she called her tax preparer, she was told since that's the information the government has on hand, that’s likely where her stimulus check went.

“On my tax papers, it says MetaBank,” Mason said.

FOX 4 reached out to MetaBank to learn more, and our calls to the company were not returned.

EPS Financial, a division of MetaBank, posted a notice on their website saying: “If the IRS inadvertently send your payment to the temporary account at EPS, this payment has been returned to the IRS to be distributed directly to you."

“I had no idea that my money would be initially deposited into somebody else account,” Mason said.

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Mason says she's grateful she's in a position where the delay this causes won't ruin her financially. She urges others who are waiting for their deposit to check if they are in the same situation she is.

“Take advantage of the IRS website,” she said. “Go in there and just check!”

Because by check or direct deposit, that's cash that should be coming.

A MetaBank spokesperson says they have no idea why the IRS sent the money to those temporary accounts. They sent the following statement to FOX 4:

“This week, MetaBank learned that the IRS is inadvertently distributing some Economic Impact Payments (EIPs) to consumers’ temporary bank accounts with our tax divisions Refund Advantage and EPS Financial. It was an error to send these EIPs to these accounts. The IRS has not explained to us why this error occurred.

These accounts managed by our Refund Advantage and EPS Financial tax solutions only process standard tax refunds owed to taxpayers as a result of a tax filing. As we are required, for EIPs sent to these accounts, upon receipt, MetaBank is immediately sending these EIP payments back to the IRS so that the IRS can distribute directly to consumers.

We are deeply concerned that this error will delay consumers from receiving EIP payments during this difficult time. MetaBank is working closely with our tax refund partners to ensure that they redirect customers to the IRS.  As we are expeditiously sending EIP payments back to the IRS, we encourage impacted consumers to contact the IRS directly with questions or for further details.”

FOX 4 reached out to the IRS, who tells us they're looking into it.

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