Coronavirus

IRS Has Rocky Start With Stimulus Funds As Money Misrouted

From error messages on the Get My Payment tool to misrouted funds and checks sent to dead people, the IRS is having a tough time getting coronavirus stimulus money into the hands of those who need it most.

The new Get My Payment tool launched on Wednesday (April 15) by the IRS and the Treasury Department is supposed to let people know when they can expect their stimulus check or direct deposit, or allow them to enter direct deposit information so they can get their money faster.

Instead, most taxpayers are getting a frustrating error message that says “Payment Status Not Available. According to the information we have on file we cannot determine your eligibility for payment at this time.”

People took to social media to express their anger, some stating that they’ve had the same bank account for a dozen years and others complaining that their tax payments got deducted but they can’t get a deposit. Others said their money was sent to a closed account or to someone else’s account. Still, others said their dead relatives got checks.

“The IRS can’t seem to figure out how to send money to the same account they took it out of,” one user tweeted.

“I know someone who received their $1,200 #StimulusCheck today & also received $1,200 for their deceased spouse who passed in early 2018, which was clearly indicated deceased on their 2018 tax return,” another person tweeted.

In an attempt to address the problem with the Get My Payment tool, the IRS created a FAQ section and specifically referred to the error message.

It said, “If you verified your identity and received this message it 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.”

The FAQ also says that other reasons for the “payment status unavailable” message include not being eligible for payment; required to file a tax return; return filed just recently; just provided information as a non-filer; SSA or RRB Form 1099 recipient; or SSI or VA benefit recipient.

The IRS tweeted at the end of the day on Wednesday (April 15) that 6.2 million taxpayers had received their payment status and almost 1.1 million had added direct deposit information.

IRS spokeswoman Jodie Reynolds said she was unaware of money being sent to the wrong bank accounts.

“The payment isn’t going to bounce back and just sit here,” Reynolds told USA Today. “We will turn around and cut them a paper check and make sure they get their money.”

As far as the government sending money to deceased people, Malcolm Sparrow, who served under President Barack Obama to oversee the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, told USA Today it is nothing new.

“The American government paying money out to dead people, or to dead patients, or dead welfare beneficiaries is years and years old,” Sparrow told the paper.

The IRS is aware that the Check My Payment tool was having issues. Luis Garcia, an IRS spokesperson, told CNBC the status message should be fixed.

“Just be patient, check back later,” says Garcia. “If you filed last year’s or this year’s taxes we have your information.”

The funds are part of the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed by Congress in late March. “We expect over 80 million hard-working Americans will get the direct deposit by this Wednesday,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said at a Monday press briefing.

The stimulus money is intended to help mitigate the economic damage from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. A recent PYMNTS survey indicated 60 percent of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.

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