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3 reasons why you didn’t get your COVID-19 stimulus check

Americans hoping for a windfall have endured a bit of a bumpy ride thanks to the less-than-ideal rollout of COVID-19 stimulus checks. Many people have already received their money by direct deposit, but a sizeable portion of taxpayers are still empty-handed — and the IRS isn’t exactly spelling out why.

Instead, it’s directing all questions to the agency’s new online portal that lets taxpayers enter information to see their payment status. That is if they don’t get an error message first. Tap or click here to find out how to check on your payment status.

The “Get My Payment” portal’s error message is generic and will appear for a variety of reasons that aren’t entirely clear at first. If you’re wondering why your payment seems stuck in limbo, here’s why you might be getting the error message.

Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, ‘Payment status not available.’

Did you get the above message when checking out the IRS’s “Get My Payment” portal? If so, you’re not alone. Millions of people are still wondering why a payment from the government hasn’t hit their bank account, and the IRS hasn’t been too clear on the reasons why.

A quick visit to the IRS FAQ page gives you the following explanation for why you’d get the unusual error message:

“The Get My Payment application will return “Payment Status Not Available” for several reasons, including:

  • You are required to file a tax return, but:
    • We haven’t finished processing your 2019 return
    • The application doesn’t yet have your data; we’re working on adding more data to allow more people to use it.
  • You don’t usually file a return, and:
    • You used Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here but we haven’t processed your entry yet
    • You receive an SSA or RRB Form 1099 or SSI or VA benefits; information has not been loaded onto our systems yet for people who don’t normally file a tax return.
  • You’re not eligible for a payment (see Eligibility).

We update Get My Payment data once per day, overnight so there is no need to check more often. If you are eligible for a payment and have provided your information either through a recent tax return or the Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here application, please check back for updates.”

Now, these answers may clear things up for some people, but they’re pretty vague overall. Thankfully, poking deeper through the IRS website and the experiences of other taxpayers on social media has cleared up much of the fog. Here are the top reasons why you haven’t received your payment yet.

1. The IRS doesn’t have your bank account information

Some people have outdated information on file with the IRS, or no bank information at all. This factor will typically apply if you filed taxes in 2018, owed money and did not file in 2019 — although some people who owed money in 2019 have gotten the same error.

This is because the IRS cannot use the bank information you provide for payments to credit your money. It explicitly states as much in the FAQ, to boot. Some 2019 taxpayers will have the ability to add or update their direct deposit information through the “Get My Payment” portal, but not everyone is having luck getting in.

To rectify this issue, the IRS suggests that 2018 filers that “need to change [their] account information or mailing address, file…2019 taxes electronically as soon as possible. That is the only way to let us know your new information.”

We know the IRS said you don’t have to file your taxes just yet if you filed in 2018, and that’s still true. If you stick it out and wait, though, you’ll get a paper check instead.

These are being sent out starting this week, but the process is expected to take around 20 weeks total! We’d recommend filing if you don’t want your check coming in August.

2. You filed through a tax-preparer or filing software

This common situation applies to millions of Americans and may explain why so many taxpayers are getting an error when they check the status of their payment.

Reports from the Washington Post suggest that tax prep software like TurboTax creates a temporary bank account for the purpose of depositing refunds, which makes sense considering that many people pay for these services using their refund payments.

This may have caused some hiccups within the IRS’s systems during the initial disbursement of relief payments.

Representatives from TurboTax insist that the IRS does have the correct info, and the IRS has admitted it is still working on adding people into the system so they can check their status. We’d recommend waiting a few days and checking again if this situation applies to you.

3. You make too much money

Although the eligibility requirements are spelled out on the IRS’s homepage, this particular issue will still result in the “Payment Status Not Available” error message. You’d think the IRS would have taken the time to create some unique error messages to reduce the confusion!

Stimulus checks are based on adjusted gross income from either your 2018 or 2019 tax returns and high earners will not qualify. If you made under $75,000 (or $150,000 for married couples), you qualify for the full $1,200 or $2.400, respectively.

Payments are reduced beyond that point until capping out for single filers who earn over $99,000, or $198,000 for couples filing joint returns.

If you’re in this bracket, you won’t be eligible for a stimulus payment, so take your finances into account and double-check your previous returns to make sure you qualify.

While you’re waiting, watch out for stimulus scams!

With so many people hurting for cash right now, these stimulus checks provide much-needed relief. But the desperation for their arrival has prompted America’s con artists to open up several prominent scam campaigns to everyone’s annoyance. Tap or click here to see the stimulus scams to watch out for.

Robocall scams are the primary method these criminals are using to trick their victims, and authorities are already attempting to warn consumers and crackdown on the people behind them. But now, the FTC is reporting a second wave of robocall scams is already underway, with a 48% increase in activity starting the week of April 6.

This wave of callers apparently is tricking their victims by telling them to provide their bank account information and Social Security Number to receive the stimulus checks. For those who haven’t been paying attention to the news or are unaware of how the IRS works, this is exceptionally dangerous.

Thankfully, all you need to do to stay safe is refrain from giving up any personal details over the phone or email to anyone, no matter who they say they are. The IRS, under no circumstances, will attempt to communicate with you by anything other than snail mail.

In fact, the COVID-19 crisis has left the agency operating mostly unmanned. It’s not even taking calls or questions of any kind in the first place!

But scammers are hoping you aren’t aware of these facts so they can prey on you. Don’t give them the opportunity. Instead, take time to learn how they function so you can protect yourself more effectively. Tap or click here to see the worst types of phone scams making the rounds.

Stay safe, and keep your fingers crossed for your money to arrive. Odds are, you’ll get it. It’s no longer a matter of “if,” just “when.”

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