When you get your stimulus check and how much you get depend on several factors.
The cash — and the confusion — keep building as the stimulus checks, known as Economic Impact Payments, roll out this week.
The Internal Revenue Service went live with its “Get My Payment” portal shortly after dawn Wednesday morning. This is the much anticipated tool where you can get information on the status of your federal stimulus payment as well as provide direct deposit information if the IRS still needs that data from you.
But if my emails from readers early Wednesday morning are any indication, there have been a few early, upsetting glitches in this massive effort.
“The ‘Get My Refund’ site keeps crashing this morning. … Can’t enter my bank info due to system failure,” said an email from a reader at 10:51 a.m. Wednesday.
Several readers expressed frustration when they tried to use the system but received a response such as: “Payment status not available. According to the information we have on file, we cannot determine your eligibility for a payment at this time.”
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Then, some say, the system kicks them out after a time. Some, though, saw things work OK after a while.
“Just so you know,” according to an email from Joyce McKenna of Washington Township, “I checked the IRS portal regarding my Economic Impact Payment and, after putting in my SS#, DOB, street address and zip code, it stated that I did not qualify for direct deposit, and then asked for my bank info in order to receive it via direct deposit.”
Yet McKenna found a little more hope after continuing the process. “After putting in info from my 2019 federal tax return and bank info, I received a Bank Account Confirmation stating, ‘You have successfully submitted your bank account information. Your payment will be direct deposited into your bank account using the information you provided.’ ”
The reader added: “I checked my bank account and it’s not there yet. I’ll let you know when it is.”
The IRS is well aware of the complaints and took time to defend its program later in the day, issuing a press release by Wednesday afternoon.
The IRS said that by mid-Wednesday more than 6.2 million taxpayers had successfully been able to obtain their payment status and almost 1.1 million taxpayers had successfully been able to provide bank account information to faciltiate the direct deposit of the stimulus money using the new Get My Payment site.
“The Get My Payment site is operating smoothly and effectively,” the IRS said.
The IRS stated that it is “actively monitoring site volume; if site volume gets too high, users are sent to an online ‘waiting room’ for a brief wait until space becomes available, much like private sector online sites. Media reports saying the tool ‘crashed’ are inaccurate.”
Is the IRS calling the people who complain liars? Sure sounds like it to me. Taxpayers who sent me detailed complaints all day Wednesday weren’t happy or saying things were going swimmingly for them here.
One reader emailed to say he’s convinced that “there’s a bug in the online software, and it’s preventing lots of people from submitting their information.”
One group that’s particularly upset: Those who neither owed taxes nor had a refund and now find it impossible to use the Get My Payment system to submit their bank information online.
“When a person had zero balance on their tax return the tool crashes (code 190),” one reader said.
“This is a rookie programming mistake (I am a software engineer, btw, and this is what’s known as a ‘border case’ error, one of the most common software bugs).”
“You can try different variations (zero refund, zero payment, no information), but once you try all that, the tool tells you that you’ve tried too many times and then locks you out.”
“People like that are locked out of the system,” the reader said.
IRS guidance, which was issued on Wednesday afternoon, might help taxpayers understand some of what they’re experiencing.
“In situations where payment status is not available, the app will respond with ‘Status Not Available.’ “ The IRS said users could receive this message for one of the following reasons:
• If you are not eligible for a payment (see IRS.gov on who is eligible and who is not eligible).
• 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.
The IRS recommends that you can check the app again to see whether there has been an update to your information.
“The IRS reminds taxpayers that Get My Payment data is updated once per day, so there’s no need to check back more frequently,” the IRS said.
To be fair here, my morning’s email and texts were filled with news from readers, friends and family members who were happy to report that they did receive their stimulus checks by Wednesday as advertised by the U.S. Treasury Department and the IRS.
An initial round of more than 80 million Economic Impact Payments started to hit bank accounts over the weekend and will continue to do so throughout this week, the IRS said.
The IRS issued this statement Wednesday via email: “Thanks to hard work and long hours by dedicated IRS employees, these payments are going out on schedule, as planned, without delay, to the nation. The IRS employees are delivering these payments in record time compared to previous stimulus efforts.”
When you actually get your money can vary. The first group would include people who have already given their bank account information to the IRS for the direct deposit of tax refunds on 2018 or 2019 returns.
In addition, Social Security beneficiaries who filed federal tax returns that included direct deposit information would be part of that first group.
The second wave of money could hit bank accounts as early as the week of April 20, according to earlier reports, for a group of people who receive Social Security benefits via direct deposit but may not have made enough money to be required to file a federal income tax return in 2018 or 2019. Most in this group will not need to file any extra forms to receive this money.
The IRS said Wednesday: “Automatic payments will also go in the near future to those receiving Social Security retirement, or disability (SSDI), or survivor benefits and Railroad Retirement benefits.”
The IRS also cleared up some confusion on Wednesday involving recipients of Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, by saying that group will automatically receive automatic Economic Impact Payments in the next few weeks.
“SSI recipients will receive a $1,200 Economic Impact Payment with no further action needed on their part. The IRS projects the payments for this group will go out no later than early May,” the IRS said.
Going forward, many people will want to use the new Get My Payment tool at IRS.gov to discover when a deposit has been scheduled, similar to the “Where’s My Refund tool.”
Get My Payment is also designed to allow people who did not use direct deposit on their last tax return will to input information to receive the payment by direct deposit into their bank account.
IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said in a statement: “Get My Payment will offer people a quick and easy way to find the status of their payment and, where possible, provide their bank account information if we don’t already have it.”
The IRS is telling consumers that Get My Payment is updated once daily, usually overnight. The IRS urges taxpayers to only use Get My Payment once a day given the large number of people receiving Economic Impact Payments.
Here’s how to use Get My Payment: Go only to IRS.gov. The IRS says this online system is safe and secure to use.
If you want to track the status of your payment, a taxpayer will need to enter basic information including Social Security number, date of birth and the mailing address used on their tax return.
If you want to add your bank account information to speed up your stimulus payment, you need to provide your adjusted gross income from the most recent tax return you submitted, either 2019 or 2018. And you need to know the refund or amount owed from your latest filed tax return. You are also going to need to supply your type of bank account, as well as your account and routing numbers.
The IRS added this information Wednesday: “Get My Payment cannot update bank account information after an Economic Impact Payment has been scheduled for delivery. To help protect against potential fraud, the tool also does not allow people to change bank account information already on file with the IRS.”
The IRS also has a separate online tool for people who don’t normally file tax returns called the Non-filers: Enter Payment Info tool. It is designed for people who did not file a tax return for 2018 or 2019 and who don’t receive Social Security retirement, disability (SSDI), or survivor benefits and Railroad Retirement benefits. Additional information is available at https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/non-filers-enter-payment-info-here.
Contact Susan Tompor via [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @tompor. Read more on business and sign up for our business newsletter.
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