UPDATE: This story was first published in April 2020, when the first stimulus check was being delivered. But there is new information about when the IRS is sending out the third stimulus check. In March 2021, a new $1.9 trillion stimulus package called the American Rescue Plan passed, and it includes a fresh round of $1,400 direct payments to most Americans. The IRS says that you can track the status of your third stimulus check using the Get My Payment tool, and that some recipients began getting their payments as early as March 12.
Tens of millions of Americans began receiving stimulus check direct deposits in their bank accounts around April 15, 2020. The much-needed payments, which are part of the $2 trillion CARES Act aimed at providing relief during the coronavirus crisis, give up to $1,200 per adult and $500 per child.
According to the IRS, 130 million people had received stimulus payments during the first four weeks of the program, and the agency expects to send out roughly 150 million payments overall.
But that means roughly 20 million people eligible for stimulus check hadn't received their payments by then, and these sad souls have been wondering: Where's my money?
The IRS began trying to answer that question for people on Wednesday, April 15, when it launched the Get My Payment app. That's the name of the IRS portal that lets you track your stimulus check payment and, if necessary, give the IRS your bank direct deposit information to help you get paid ASAP.
Unfortunately, not everyone has found the Get My Payment app to be helpful. Many have tried to use the tool and been met with a frustrating message: "Payment Status Not Available."
Why are some people seeing this message? Why have some people gotten their stimulus checks but not others? Here are the reasons that the IRS gives for why stimulus payments may be delayed or not offered to certain people, and why it may be difficult or impossible check the status of your payment.
Where's My Stimulus Check?
The first stimulus check recipients saw their payments show up in their bank accounts in mid-April. But some people who are also eligible for stimulus checks have not received their money, and they're puzzled about why that is — and are perhaps in a panic over whether their coronavirus payment is coming at all.
Here are some of the possibilities why you might not have gotten a stimulus payment yet:
You're not eligible.
In order to get a stimulus check, you must have a Social Security number, and your adjusted gross income (AGI) according to your 2018 or 2019 tax return must be below certain levels. Specifically, as the IRS explains, you'll get the maximum amount ($1,200 per adult, plus $500 for kids under age 17) if your AGI is $75,000 or less (or $150,000 or less for married couples filing jointly), and you'll get no payment if your AGI is over $99,000 (or $198,000 for married couples filing jointly).
Among the reasons you might not be eligible for a payment: You are a higher-income earner, you don't have a Social Security number, someone else can claim you as a dependent for tax purposes, or you are a nonresident alien. Another possibility: If your AGI or some other information was incorrect on your tax return, that could lead to a mistake with your stimulus check.
The IRS doesn't have your direct deposit info.
The fastest way to get your stimulus check is via bank direct deposit from the IRS. If the IRS doesn't have your direct deposit info on file, you can still get paid, but it'll come via paper check — and getting a check in the mail could delay your payment by weeks or even months. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told CNN that it was his idea that paper check stimulus payments have President Donald Trump's signature on them, and that reports saying that the signature would add further delay to the arrival of paper checks is incorrect.
"The checks have not gone out yet," Mnuchin said to CNN's Jake Tapper on Sunday, April 19, "and the reason they have not gone out yet is that we're hoping that more people, as I said, will go to IRS.gov. It's much safer to send out direct deposits."
Most taxpayers provide the IRS with their bank account details, for the purposes of making a payment or receiving a tax refund. If the agency does not have your direct deposit details, you can provide the IRS with that information at the Get My Payment app — which also lets you track the status of your check. However, the last day to give your direct deposit info to the IRS was May 13; if you missed the deadline, are eligible, and haven't received your payment already, it will come as a paper check. You can still use the Get My Payment app to reveal how you will receive your payment (direct deposit or paper check), and give a scheduled arrival date, if the payment has been processed.
You haven't filed taxes for 2018 or 2019.
In most cases, the IRS determines whether someone is eligible for a stimulus check, and how much they'll get, based on their most recent tax return — for 2019, or 2018 if the individual hasn't filed yet this year. The deadline to file federal taxes has been pushed back from April 15 to July 15 this year, but nonetheless it may be in your best interest to file your taxes sooner than later.
People who have already filed their taxes do not have to do anything to get their checks. However, some people are not required to file taxes, and they could miss out on stimulus payments if they do not take action. Low-income earners — with gross income of $12,200 or less (or $24,400 for married couples) — do not need to file federal tax returns. For these people to receive a stimulus payment, they must register at the IRS's "Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here" page.
The IRS has the wrong bank info.
The IRS is sending payment to the bank account it has on file for you. If you've changed banks and closed the account, or the bank number on file with the IRS is wrong, the payment won't go through, but you'll still get your money. As the IRS says, "If the account is closed or no longer active, the bank will reject the deposit and you will be issued a check that will be mailed to the address we have on file for you."
You get Social Security.
Social Security recipients and people receiving Social Security disability benefits or Railroad Retirement benefits are eligible for stimulus checks, and they do not have to file taxes in order to receive a payment. However, if anyone in these groups has a dependent under age 17 and does not file taxes, they should add that information at the IRS's "Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here" page in order to get an extra $500 per child.
The first people to get stimulus checks are those who have filed tax returns and have their direct deposit info on file with the IRS. People who receive Social Security or the other benefits mentioned above fall into a second category, and they will receive their payments in the next wave of deposits from the IRS. These people can expect their payments to show up in their bank accounts by the end of April, if not sooner. On the other hand, if federal agencies do not have your bank info on file, your payment will come in the mail as a paper check, and that process could take much longer.
Your tax return is still being processed.
If you recently filed your 2019 tax return and it is still being processed by the IRS, that could delay your stimulus check payment. The IRS uses the information on your tax return to determine eligibility for stimulus payments, and calculating how much the payment should be.
There's a glitch with your bank, tax prep software, or the IRS.
This explanation may be the most frustrating of all for people wondering where the heck their stimulus checks are. But a mistake made by your bank, the IRS, or the tax-prep software you used to file returns could screw up your stimulus payment.
As the Washington Post reported, the stimulus payments for millions of taxpayers may be delayed because of a glitch with tax-prep software firms, such as TurboTax, H&R Block, and Jackson Hewitt. The IRS might not have direct deposit information for you if you used one of these services and received an advance on your tax refund, or if you paid for the service by deducting the fee from your tax refund. And if the IRS doesn't have your direct deposit info, your stimulus check will be delayed. If you think this situation applies to you, use the IRS Get My Payment app to provide the agency with your direct deposit details.
'Payment Status Not Available': Why?
The IRS says that millions of taxpayers have successfully used the new Get My Payment app to track their stimulus checks and, if needed, add their direct deposit information to get payment faster. So why are countless people complaining on social media that they entered their information at the app only to receive a frustrating "Payment Status Not Available" message?
In some cases, there could be glitches with the Get My Payment app itself that are preventing people from adding direct deposit information or finding out the expected date for their payments to arrive. Among other quirks, the system may give you a "Payment Status Not Available Message" if you owed $0 in taxes and received no refund on your most recent tax return, the Washington Post reported, because the IRS form gave an error message for people entering "0" in those corresponding spots.
The Get My Payment app went offline during certain late-night hours on Thursday, April 23, through Saturday, April 25, for "planned maintenance." On April 26, the IRS announced "significant enhancements" to the app, though the agency did not specify which glitches had been fixed. "We urge people who haven’t received a payment date yet to visit Get My Payment again for the latest information," IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said in a statement. "IRS teams worked long hours to deliver Get My Payment in record time, and we will continue to make improvements to help Americans."
Here have been some of the likely explanations for why you've seen the "Payment Status Not Available" message while using the tool:
You aren't eligible for a stimulus payment.
If you aren't eligible for a stimulus check (see the rules explained above, or at the IRS website), the Get My Payment app won't necessarily explain that. Instead, you may simply find yourself staring at the words "Payment Status Not Available." If this is the case, you may want to take a look at your adjusted gross income on your most recent tax return, to see if you're eligible for a payment or not.
You haven't filed taxes for 2018 or 2019.
If you're required to file taxes and haven't done so for the 2018 or 2019 tax year, the IRS has no way of determining if you should get a stimulus payment. So it also can't give you a payment status update.
You recently filed your taxes.
If the IRS is still processing your tax return, it may be too early for the agency to provide you with a stimulus payment status update.
You recently registered with the IRS Non-Filers form.
If you don't file taxes and recently added your information at the Non-Filers Payment Info Here page, it may be too early for the IRS to give an update on when you'll get a check. You'll have to wait until your information is processed.
You receive Social Security benefits.
Unfortunately, for now at least, the Get My Payment app cannot track payments for people who receive Social Security, Social Security disability benefits, Railroad Retirement benefits, or veterans benefits. In the words of the IRS on the Get My Payments page, "If you are an SSA or RRB Form 1099 recipient or SSI or VA benefit recipient, your information is not yet available in this application."
You are locked out of using Get My Payment.
The IRS says that data in Get My Payment is updated only once per day. If you've already checked with the app and received a "Payment Status Not Available" message, there is no need to try to use it again on the same day. If you do, you may see a message saying "Please Try Again Later," and be locked out of using the site for 24 hours.