If you still haven’t received your coronavirus relief check and are feeling impatient —or scared about how you are going to make ends meet— as you await a direct deposit, you’re certainly not alone.
Despite the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) rolling out a web app this past Wednesday to track the delivery of your $1,200 payment, a key provision of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, roughly 120 million Americans — including this peeved writer — found themselves frustrated by delayed processing times and a confusing error message on the IRS website.
“Payment status not available” reads the IRS web portal, even after the entry of correct taxpayer information.
Receiving an Error Message
Compounding this confusion is an error message indicating that the IRS “cannot determine your eligibility for a payment at this time.”
This somewhat (read: incredibly) confusing prompt indicates that the taxpayer is either not eligible for payment, required to file a tax return and has not yet done so for the 2018 or 2019 tax year, or recently provided information through the non-filer payment portal.
It can also mean, if you’re a recipient of government benefits from Social Security or Veterans Affairs, that your coronavirus stimulus check is not yet accounted for through this system, according to the Frequent Asked Questions on the IRS's website.
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In essence, this response from the IRS is stating “you are either not going to receive your payment, or you will after you rectify one or more problems, and it’s up to you to figure out what those problems are.”
And in certain cases, even if none of these qualifications applies to you, you might still receive an error.
“Some of the clients we work with, they’re frustrated, getting the ‘payment status not available’ message, yet a number of these clients do not meet any of the criteria provided by the IRS,” says certified public accountant Christopher Cicalese, manager at New Jersey-based accountancy and advisory firm Alloy Silverstein.
“Payment Status Not Available” is just so wild. The IRS will find you if you live in Mordor, but if you try to get your #Stimuluscheck they've suddenly never heard of you.
— Claire James Carroll (@ClaireJCarroll) April 15, 2020
Amid compounding concerns for millions of Americans, many entering their second month of unemployment, this failure to disseminate a much-needed financial boost further adds to the anxiety surrounding COVID-19 — especially when many see the $1,200 check as not nearly enough to cover expenses in an economy that’s still very much shut down.
Steps You Can Take While Waiting for Your Coronavirus Check
If you’re still waiting on the government stimulus, Cicalese recommends you ensure your account information is completely up-to-date with the IRS, and that your adjusted gross income (AGI) meets the requirements to receive the stimulus.
“Verify you are actually entitled to payment first, and if you haven’t filed your return for 2019, check to see that your 2018 meets the threshold,” Cicalese says. “For single individuals, it’s $75,000, after which the $1,200 begins to phase out gradually.”
“Additionally, if you amended your return, or filed by paper in the past month, the IRS isn’t really processing paper returns right now, so it may take some additional time to process your check,” he adds.
If you're not filing a 2019 return, you can additionally update your information, including direct deposit information, using the IRS website. Also keep in mind that if you are filing income tax for 2019, you'll want to submit by the revised July 15th deadline to ensure the most timely arrival of your stimulus to your current address.
After that, all you can do is wait for your check to arrive. But most of us are unfortunately used to hanging tight in this new pandemic-afflicted world.
“We’re all at the mercy of the government, and the government is at the mercy of the virus,” Cicalese adds. “Until the IRS can get everyone back in the office, you’re not going to get as much help as you normally would.”