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Still no IRS stimulus check? ‘Payment status not available’? Here’s what might be wrong

Still no IRS stimulus check? ‘Payment status not available’? Here’s what might be wrong
[Photo: ismagilov/iStock; John Guccione/Pexels]

It’s been almost a week since the Internal Revenue Service began making direct payments to individual taxpayers as part of the coronavirus economic stimulus package. If you were expecting a check and have not received it by now, surely you are wondering what’s going on. You’re not alone—a cursory search of social media will turn up countless people beseeching the IRS with questions about when their check will show up.

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Here are a few reasons why your check might not have arrived yet:

The IRS doesn’t have your direct deposit info

Many people who filed their taxes in 2019 or 2018—and were owed a refund—received their stimulus checks automatically and did not need to lift a finger. That’s because they’ve already given their bank routing information to the IRS. If you’ve never done that, your stimulus check will probably be sent by mail.

Unfortunately, paper checks are going to take a little bit longer. The IRS will begin sending them on April 20 and will continue on a weekly basis, at about 5 million per week. Lower-income people will be prioritized.

If you still want to try giving the IRS your direct deposit info, you can do that here. There are separate sections for filers and non-filers (i.e. people who weren’t required to file a return in 2019 or 2019). Be forewarned, the IRS website has been suffering under the weight of increased traffic, and many visitors are experiencing glitches with these tools.

Someone claimed you as a dependent

If your parents or someone else claimed you as a dependent on their tax return, you aren’t eligible for the $1,200 stimulus check. This is sadly the case for many adult college students who were hit especially hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and are in need of financial assistance.

You make too much money

Stimulus checks are based on income and not being sent to higher earners. You qualify for the full $1,200 ($2,400 for joint filers) if you made under $75,000 (or $150,000 if you’re married) last year. Single filers who made over $99,000 (or $198,000 for married couples filing joint returns) are phased out. Those numbers are based on your adjusted gross income on your tax forms.

This is again unfortunate for many people in need, including workers who have lost their jobs in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Tax-preparer delay

Sadly, many taxpayers still haven’t received their checks because of basic technical glitches, including millions whose taxes were prepared by a third-party service like H&R Block or TurboTax. As the Washington Post reports, those services create a temporary bank account for tax payments and so the IRS may not have their direct deposit information.

A spokesperson for TurboTax owner Intuit said, “The IRS has the appropriate banking information for all TurboTax filers, which can be used by them to distribute stimulus payments. This is true regardless of whether a customer chose to receive their refund on a debit card, selected refund transfer or other services.” The company added: “We recommend that people check the IRS Get My Payment tool to find out how they will receive their stimulus payment from the IRS and when.”

H&R Block has said something similar, telling CNBC that the IRS “created confusion by not always using clients’ final destination bank account information” for the stimulus checks: “[We are] actively working with the IRS to get stimulus payments sent directly to client accounts.”

The IRS has outdated bank information on file

Could it be that your check was sent to your old bank? Possibly: This is another problem being reported on social media, and apparently a common one if Twitter searches are to be believed. According to USA Today, the likely scenario is that the IRS would just revert to a paper check, but if you switched banks since last year, you should check to see that the information the IRS has on file is current.

You’re otherwise ineligible

Basic requirements for the stimulus check include a Social Security number, and you must be a U.S. citizen or legal immigrant. Sadly, undocumented taxpayers aren’t due to receive a stimulus check.

Still nothing. Can I check with the IRS to see what’s going on?

Possibly. The IRS added a tracking tool called “get my payment” earlier this week, but it only works under certain circumstances. Many users have reported getting the message “payment status not available” when they tried to check on their stimulus checks. (This term was actually trending on Twitter a few days ago.)

According to the IRS, this message could occur for a number of reasons:

  • “If you are not eligible for a payment”
  • “If you are required to file a tax return and have not filed in tax year 2018 or 2019”
  • “If you recently filed your return or provided information through Non-Filers: Enter Your Payment Info on IRS.gov. Your payment status will be updated when processing is completed”
  • “If you are a SSA or RRB Form 1099 recipient, SSI or VA benefit recipient–the IRS is working with your agency to issue your payment; your information is not available in this app yet”

Again, the IRS website has been under extreme traffic pressure over the last week, and is likely to be glitchy, so it’s possible that you’re getting this message in error. Taxpayers are advised to check back again, especially if they just recently updated their payment info. Good luck!

What’s the general timeline for the stimulus checks?

The House Committee on Ways & Means released a timeline for how the stimulus checks will be distributed after conversations with the IRS. You can find it here.

This story has been updated with additional information, including comments from Intuit and H&R Block. Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the income limit for married filers. It is $198,000.

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