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The Internal Revenue Service began distributing $290 billion in direct cash payments to tens of millions of Americans on April 15, as part of the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or Cares Act.

American adults who earned less than $75,000 are supposed to receive a $1,200 payment, and a married couple filing jointly earning $150,000 or less will get $2,400. The Cares Act provides for an additional $500 per dependent child under 17.

But the launch exposed a number of problems with the agency’s direct deposit process and the “Get My Payment” tool, which was meant to allow people to check the status of their payments and give the IRS information to get their money electronically.

Many people have contacted The Washington Post reporting that they received less than what they were supposed to get — or in some cases that they were overpaid. Parents reported they did not get the $500 payments for dependent children under 17.

People are complaining about not being able to access the feature, or getting kicked off, and locked out after repeated attempts.

Here are some common problems — and what you can or can’t do about them.

Q: Why didn’t we get our stimulus payment?

A: The key to getting your payment in the first batch sent out was whether the IRS had direct deposit information for you as a result of a refund. If you owed the IRS or did not get a refund in 2018 or 2019, the agency doesn’t have a way to send your money electronically. This does not mean you won’t get a payment. It means you need to either go to “Get My Payment” on the IRS website or wait for a paper check in the mail.

Q: The ‘Get My Payment’ tool says my payment should have been deposited on April 15. Why have I not received it yet?

A: Although the IRS may have electronically sent the payment, your financial institution may not have processed it yet. Keep checking with your bank.

If you don’t get the money, you’ll have to wait for a letter from the IRS. The agency is required to mail a letter to your last known address 15 days after sending your payment. As described in the Cares Act, the notice from the IRS is supposed to indicate the method by which your payment was made, the amount of the payment and a phone number for the appropriate point of contact at the IRS to report any failure to receive the money.

Q: Why do I keep getting a ‘Payment Status Not Available’ message?

A: Lots of people are worried that the message “Payment Status Not Available” means they may not get their stimulus money. It is very likely that the system hasn’t been able to process your information from a recently filed 2019 tax return. Or, it’s like a waiting room where you sit until you are called.

You may also be getting this message for the following reasons, the IRS says:

  • Your adjusted gross income is too high to get a payment.
  • You haven’t filed a tax return for 2018 or 2019.
  • You recently filed your return and it has not been fully processed.
  • You used the “Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here” tool on for people who are not required to file a return and the IRS is still processing the information.
  • You receive Social Security, disability or Railroad Retirement benefits. In this case, the IRS will use your SSA or RRB Form 1099 and your payment will be sent automatically.

Q: How do I get past the question asking if I’ve received a refund or did I owe taxes for 2019? Neither applies to my situation.

A: Many people have complained about a glitch that won’t allow them to move forward because they neither owed any money to the IRS nor received a refund for 2018 or 2019.

Initially, IRS spokesman Eric Smith suggested that people type in zero for either answer. However, this does not work.

Others tried using information from their 2018 return. That didn’t work either.

“We are aware of the problem and we are working hard to find a solution,” Smith said. “In these very difficult times, we know how very much people need their money, and we are working hard to get it to them as quickly as we can.”

Q: Was my stimulus payment delayed because I used a tax preparer?

A: Possibly. Many customers who used tax preparers (either an accountant or a big chain one like TurboTax) had no issues. They did receive their direct deposit this week. But others did not.

In some cases, the IRS doesn’t have your direct deposit information because you owed taxes or had no tax liability. So you need to go on the website and enter your direct deposit information, or you can wait for a check in the mail.

But the reason you may have not gotten your payment in the initial rollout is that you received a refund anticipation loan (RAL) or refund anticipation check (RAC).

“When a taxpayer purchases a RAL or RAC, a virtual bank account is established solely for purposes of receiving the refund and facilitating the transaction,” the Taxpayer Advocate Service explained in a blog about the stimulus payments. “The account does not continue to exist and therefore Economic Impact Payments delivered to virtual accounts by direct deposit would not reach the intended recipient.”

However, “in many cases, these returns also transmit the underlying bank account information of the taxpayer,” which is why some people still receive a payment via direct deposit.

Q: How do I fix this particular glitch?

A: So, you have two options: You can enter your direct deposit information online at “Get My Payment,” if you can get through, or you can wait for the IRS to send you a check.

Q: Why do I keep getting locked out when I try to enter my direct deposit information?

A: To prevent fraud, the “Get My Payment” portal will lock you out after multiple failed attempts to enter information. You may be locked out by no fault of your own. The information the IRS has on file may be outdated or wrong. Perhaps you moved and the IRS has an old address. A Social Security number may be incorrect in the system.

If you get a message that your payment status can’t be determined, wait a day. Because information is updated once a day, overnight, there is no need to check back several times during the day.

Q: My stimulus money went to someone else’s bank account. What can I do?

A: It’s possible the IRS has the incorrect information on file for you or just made an error. The IRS says it’s aware of this issue and is working on it. “No matter what, you will receive a notice within 15 days with details on your payment,” Smith said.

Q: We last filed a return in 2018, listing our newborn as a dependent. Why didn’t we get the extra $500 for our child?

A: I put this question to the IRS, and at this point, they don’t know what might have happened. You may need to wait for the IRS letter. Or, when you file your 2020 tax return next year, you will have an opportunity to get the rest of the stimulus money.

It’s important to note that the stimulus payment is technically a 2020 tax credit that eligible individuals and couples are getting now because the need is so great. So, if for some reason you don’t get the payment now, you can claim it on your 2020 tax return. By the way, you do not have to pay back this money, nor will it be taxed.

Q: I filed a 2019 return but used the non-filers tool by mistake. I can’t get into ‘Get My Payment.’ Is there anything I can do to give the IRS my direct deposit information so I don’t have to wait for a check?

A: Unfortunately, you may have to wait for your check. You can also keep trying to access “Get My Payment.”

It’s very important you use the right portal. Do not use the non-filers portal if you plan on filing a 2019 return. Don’t use it if you’ve already filed a return for 2019.

“Using this tool will NOT speed up your Economic Impact Payment and will likely slow down processing of your tax return and receiving any refund,” the IRS says.

Q: My husband and I received two payments, one for $2,400 and another deposit for $1,200 for me as an individual. I suspect it has something to do with my name change after getting married. What should we do about the overpayment?

A: For now, leave the money in the account. It’s not yours to spend. Or, be prepared to pay it back to the IRS. If the IRS doesn’t reverse the payment, once you receive your payment letter you’ll have information about how to return the extra money.

Q: How do I talk to a human at the IRS about problems with my stimulus payment?

A: At this point, the IRS says don’t call. The agency just doesn’t have the ability to accept calls during the pandemic.

“To protect the public and employees, and in compliance with orders of local health authorities around the country, certain IRS services such as live assistance on telephones, processing paper tax returns and responding to correspondence are extremely limited or suspended until further notice,” IRS said.

IRS is periodically posting updates on coronavirus tax relief as issues arise at

Q: Is there anything else I can do?

A: Even if you don’t fit one of the categories for why the “Get My Payment” portal isn’t working for you, don’t fret. If you are entitled to the payment, it will come eventually — although I know this doesn’t help you if you’re struggling to pay bills right now.

The IRS announced that veterans and their beneficiaries who receive Compensation and Pension (C&P) benefit payments will automatically receive their stimulus payments. But “timing on the payments is still being determined,” the IRS said Friday.

Veterans can use “Get My Payment” to track their money, assuming they can get into the portal.

There are two main purposes for “Get My Payment.” One is to allow people to provide the IRS with direct deposit information so they can receive their stimulus electronically. The other is to enable people to check the status of their payment, just as they might use the “Where’s My Refund?” portal to track their regular federal income tax refund.

If you can’t access the tool to give the IRS your direct deposit information, it does not mean you won’t get the stimulus payment.

If your adjusted gross income qualifies you for payment, at the very least you’ll get a check through the mail. The IRS will use your last known mailing address.

Heather Long contributed to this report.