The heavily criticized "Get My Payment" tool at the Internal Revenue Service web site could be working on a makeover.
The "Get My Payment" tool at IRS.gov was designed to help people track their stimulus payments and allow taxpayers to provide direct deposit information to the IRS when necessary to receive the Economic Impact Payments more quickly.
But nationwide, taxpayers continue to express a great deal of frustration, especially when they try to use the system but then see words like "Payment Status Not Available."
The IRS will be initiating "planned outages" on Friday and Saturday, following an earlier scheduled outage on Thursday. The "Get My Payment" tool will be unavailable starting at 10 p.m.Eastern Standard Time until approximately 1 a.m. "due to planned maintenance" on those days.
The IRS is expected to be making "critical system updates."
"In an effort to improve the user experience and address some of the concerns raised, our programmers are making critical system updates," the IRS said in an alert.
The IRS has been frequently adding new information online to try to explain some problems people are facing. But it has been clear that more work needed to be done on the system ever since it was launched April 15.
The IRS said those who use the tool, for example, will see a "Payment Status Not Available" notice if "the application doesn’t yet have your data, or you are not eligible for a payment."
The wording itself can be highly confusing for taxpayers who are eligible based on their income to see the "payment status not available" notice.
Several readers told me that the system prevents them from entering their bank account information if they neither owed money for taxes nor received a refund in recent tax years. Some people do end up with a zero balance on their tax return but then cannot use the tool. A few readers who claimed to have IT experience said that problem was a programming mistake.
About 80 million taxpayers were on course to see stimulus payments directly deposited into bank accounts during the first week of April 13, according to the IRS. That's a bit less than half of those eligible to receive payments.
This week, more money was being deposited regularly; and the IRS had said that checks will be mailed in batches of 5 million checks a week. The mailing of those checks could drag out as much as 20 weeks, according to some estimates.
The checks will be issued in reverse “adjusted gross income” order — starting with people with the lowest incomes first.
People have continued to be upset this week and unable to use the "Get My Payment" tool to help them understand when or how they'd receive their money.
No one needs to use the "Get My Payment" tool to apply for the stimulus cash, though some people are confused and wrongly think they need to sign up online to get the money.
As of April 17, the IRS updated its page to say:
"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.
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