What ‘Payment Status Not Available’ Really Means for Your Coronavirus Check
The Get My Payment site for tracking your coronavirus relief check is operating “smoothly and effectively,” the IRS said in a press release April 15.
Maybe the site has crashed on you. Or it’s logged you out for visiting more than one time in 24 hours. Or, perhaps most perplexing of all, it’s greeted you with these words:
Payment status not available.
Let’s decode what those three words could mean.
Payment Status Not Available? 4 Explanations From the IRS
Here are four possible reasons you’re seeing “payment status not available” when you check on your stimulus money, according to the IRS.
1. You Aren’t Eligible for a Payment
If your income is above $75,000 if you’re single, or $150,000 if you’re married, your payment is reduced by 5 cents for every dollar you earn above these limits. If you don’t have kids, you’re ineligible for a payment once your income reaches $99,000 if you’re single or $150,000 if you’re married.
Other reasons you may not qualify: Someone else claimed you as a dependent on their tax return, or you don’t have a Social Security number.
To read more about the requirements, check out our coronavirus relief checks FAQ.
2. You’re Required to Submit a Tax Return but Didn’t in 2018 or 2019
The IRS is using data from 2019 tax returns for people who have already filed, or 2018 returns for those who haven’t.
The 2019 tax deadline was extended to July 15, but if you haven’t filed for either year, submit your 2019 return ASAP to get your payment. If you recently filed, you could be receiving the “status not available” message because the IRS hasn’t processed your return yet.
3. You Used the Non-Filer Tool
People who aren’t required to file taxes and don’t receive certain benefits, like Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), need to provide the IRS a few pieces of information to get their payments.
The IRS made that possible with its non-filer tool. But the feature only became available on April 10, just five days before the Get My Payment site went live. If you used the tool to submit your information, the IRS could still be processing it.
It may not be possible for some people who don’t normally file tax returns to use the tool at all. According to an IRS FAQ, if they can’t verify your identity through the security questions it provides, you won’t be able to use Get My Payment.
4. You Receive Social Security or Other Benefits
People who receive Social Security or some other types of benefits don’t need to file a tax return or use the non-filer tool to get their payments, because the IRS will get the information it needs from Social Security. Same goes for people who receive Railroad Retirement, SSI or VA benefits.
If you fall in any of these categories, the IRS says it’s “working with your agency to issue your payment,” even if payment information still isn’t available.
… but Here’s the Unofficial Explanation
Many people have found that they receive the message even when they type in a fake Social Security number and address, as The Verge reported on Wednesday. That would suggest getting this message isn’t really telling you much about your particular payment status.
It appears to be a “generic catch-all error for the system, instead of a useful, actionable error message,” wrote The Verge’s Adi Robertson.
You shouldn’t look at this as evidence that the IRS has looked at your information and determined you’re ineligible. Basically, the only conclusion you can draw is that information about your payment isn’t in the IRS system yet.
Is There Another Way to Check Your Coronavirus Payment Status?
Unfortunately, as of April 17, there isn’t.
You can’t use the Where’s My Refund? or View Your Account Information features to check your payment status. You can’t call the IRS. It’s pretty much impossible to contact the IRS in any way right now.
The only thing you can do is check back daily — but only once a day, the IRS warns. Information is only updated once each day, so you won’t get any new information by checking frequently.
Plus, if you enter information that doesn’t match what the IRS has in its system multiple times, you could be locked out of Get My Payment for 24 hours.
If you have questions about coronavirus relief checks or you’d like to tell us about your experience using Get My Payment, email [email protected].
Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and a senior editor at The Penny Hoarder. She writes the Dear Penny personal finance advice column.