In mid-April 2020, a number of social media users reported receiving a coronavirus stimulus payment to their bank accounts — but many others were dismayed the long-awaited $1,200 (or more) payment had not yet reached their bank accounts.
In one post we viewed, someone reported their IRS coronavirus stimulus check had not arrived. That person discovered that despite receiving a tax refund in 2020, the IRS required additional information to process their direct deposit:
Hey all, for anyone who has not seen their stimulus check hit their bank account, go to IRS.gov to check the status of the check. I checked and they claimed they didn’t have my direct deposit information, even though they direct deposited my tax refund 2 weeks ago 🙄 lol.
So I would advise anyone who is waiting (and needing) this check to come in, to check that they have your information.
Social media was inundated by posts about people not receiving their stimulus checks, so the problem appeared to be widespread. We visited IRS.gov to investigate the claim, eventually landing on the dedicated “Economic Impact Payments” page.
(You likely need access to your 2019 or 2018 refund to complete the steps to get your coronavirus stimulus payment if you have not already received it.)
It looks like this:
We clicked “Get My Payment,” the blue button under the image of money in the column to the left of “Non-Filers: Enter Your Payment Here,” and to the right of the sidebar navigation. Selecting “Get My Payment” on the “Economic Impact Payments” led to a page which looked like this:
At the top, text read:
Check on the status of your Economic Impact Payment
This application will give you information about:
• Your payment status
• Your payment type
• Whether we need more information from you, including bank account information
The last and final bullet point, “Whether we need more information from you, including bank account information,” was the circumstance described by the person above. We once again clicked “Get My Payment,” which is in actuality the proper selection to determine the status of your coronavirus stimulus check.
Clicking “Get My Payment” a second time led to a form which asked for an individual’s social security number, date of birth, and ZIP code:
After entering that information, a somewhat alarming warning screen appeared:
However, occasionally an error screen appeared, indicating a high level of traffic was affecting the IRS.gov coronavirus stimulus “Get My Payment” tool:
We were able to continue the process, reaching a page that asked for information about our tax filing status. In the process of completing the form, the IRS requests:
- The amount of your adjusted gross income, or AGI;
- The amount of the refund you received the same year, if applicable;
- Or the amount of the sum owed the IRS, if applicable:
After entering that information, we received the same notice as others — that the IRS did not have our direct deposit information. Had we not visited the page, we would not have received our coronavirus stimulus deposit. We selected from “checking” or “savings,” and entered the information.
Currently, using the tool indicates that the IRS updated our information:
Some people saw messages affirming their information was correct, and a deposit date:
So I was suppose to receive the stimulus check today, but it got sent to a closed account. I don’t know if my bank will sort it out, or I gotta call them. IRS wouldn’t let me update my bank info. #stimuluspayment #StimulusPackage2020 #StimulusDeposits pic.twitter.com/Z2AIEgsCgL
— 👨🏾💻Izzy-chan HF 👉🏾🍎👈🏾🧢🤑🌊 (@IzzyBolden) April 15, 2020
But others reported seeing a “payment status not available” screen, and occasionally a “please try again later” message:
— Cass (@bdgirlsdgirl) April 15, 2020
Over on Google Trends in the “coronavirus” category, the following represented top searches on April 15 2020:
US: Trending questions, past day
1 Where is my stimulus deposit?
2 When will stimulus checks arrive?
3 How do you get the stimulus check
4 How to track stimulus check
5 Is the stimulus check a loan?
We addressed the fifth question in this fact check:
In sum, a number of eligible filers received their coronavirus “Economic Impact Payments” as of April 15 2020, but others expressed concern that they had not yet received a direct deposit. We checked the tool on IRS.gov, and were among the people for whom the IRS claimed to not have up-to-date banking information; that meant that we were required to enter filing and account information in order to receive payments.
If your payment has not arrived, you should visit irs.gov/coronavirus/economic-impact-payments and follow the prompts above.
Update, April 15 2020, 5:24 PM: Into the late afternoon of April 15 2020, “IRS payment status not available” trended intermittently on Twitter, with thousands of Americans expressing frustration due to system errors or 24-hour payment processing lockouts:
"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
so am i just completely fucked out of my money? thought chase was processing all stimulus checks today but i didn’t get mine, tried to use the irs portal and kept getting “payment status not available” and now i’m locked out for 24 hrs? what the hell?? pic.twitter.com/Uzx9bkWFbS
— Whoretica Addams (@thx4thevnm) April 15, 2020
At 11:55 AM EST. @IRSnews tweeted that coronavirus stimulus checks were being sent “on schedule, as planned, without delay, to the nation” and in “record time”:
Thanks to hard work and long hours by dedicated #IRS employees, Economic Impact Payments are going out on schedule, as planned, without delay, to the nation. The IRS employees are delivering these payments in record time. #COVIDreliefIRS pic.twitter.com/cXOgNh87Ah
— IRSnews (@IRSnews) April 15, 2020
However, a “pinned tweet” published by that account just under four hours later indicated the novel “Get My Payment tool” was “operating at record volumes,” and acknowledged that the “payment status not available” message was frequently displayed:
The #IRS Get My Payment tool is operating at record volumes. So far, 9.8M people got an Economic Impact Payment status and 1.6M provided direct deposit info. In some situations, the app responds: Status Not Available. Learn what this means at https://t.co/z4wFEL6Sb2 pic.twitter.com/3BvNibfZ69
— IRSnews (@IRSnews) April 15, 2020
@IRSnews linked to its “Economic Impact Payment Information Center,” and a section titled “Locked/Status Unavailable,” which once again requested taxpayers “not contact the IRS” about their missing payments:
What does it mean when Get My Payment says, “Please Try Again Later”?
Your account has been locked. You will able to access the application after 24 hours have passed. Please do not contact the IRS.
Why can’t I get my payment status?
To use Get My Payment, you must first verify your identity by answering security questions. If the information you enter does not match our records multiple times, you will be locked out of Get My Payment for 24 hours for security reasons. If you are unable to verify your identity, you will not be able to use Get My Payment. No action is needed to contact the IRS.
If you verified your identity and received “Payment Status Not Available,” this means we cannot determine your eligibility for a payment at this time. This may occur for a variety of reasons, for example, if you didn’t file either a 2018 or 2019 tax return or you recently filed and the return has not been fully processed.
Under a header titled “Do I need to take action?”, the IRS page provided what appeared to be partly inaccurate information — informing taxpayers no action was needed if they filed a return in 2018 or 2019. Clearly, many of or most of the 1.8 million people who updated their information had filed in 2018 or 2019 so, and further action was required for those people:
People who filed a tax return for 2019 or 2018
No additional action is needed by taxpayers who:
have already filed their tax returns this year for 2019. The IRS will use this information to calculate the payment amount.
haven’t filed yet for 2019 but filed a 2018 federal tax return. For these taxpayers the IRS will use their information from 2018 tax filings to make the Economic Impact Payment calculations.
Following on from that, millions more were unable to access the system, or remained locked out for at least 24 hours. No figures were available for how many taxpayers received the “payment status not available” message.
According to their second tweet, 9.8 million Americans received their “Economic Impact Payment status,” but that 1.6 million were required to submit further information upon checking; the agency did not specify how many Americans were going to receive payments in total. Of 9.8 million, 1.6 million is nearly 20 percent, and no information was available about the total number of taxpayers whose payments were being held indefinitely.