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Problems tracking your stimulus check and setting up direct deposit? 9 reasons why

The IRS’ online tool, Get My Payment, has been live for under a week, but is already running into trouble. Designed to help you set up direct deposit (here’s how) and track your coronavirus stimulus checks (step-by-step directions), it’s meant to be an elegant solution to help millions of eligible people in the US get — and track — their stimulus payments of up to $1,200 apiece faster than through the mail, and more efficiently, too.

There’s just one problem: It doesn’t always work.

We’ve heard from dozens of CNET readers who’ve had problems checking their status and completing their direct deposit information through the IRS’ online portal — and a few of us have experienced error messages ourselves.

“It stops at ‘payment status not available,’ and ‘we can’t determine your eligibility,'” said Tabmowj in a comment.

“In my case the IRS already has my bank account information, but they are not using it for direct deposit; rather they are using it for direct withdrawal, which is something else,” said CNET reader Pecabot.

Turns out, there may be several reasons why the Get My Payment tool isn’t working for everyone as intended. We’ve reached out to the IRS for more information about these issues. Meanwhile, here are some explanations we’ve been able to track down, mostly from the IRS support site for the tool. Note that this list is not exhaustive and may not apply to your particular situation.

As for the solution? We’re trying to learn more about that, too, but in some cases, the IRS may not have a fix yet. There may be nothing to do but to wait and try again with the Get My Payment tool, or you may find that your check arrives in the mail instead of in your bank account. If you’re worried about making rent or car payments before your stimulus money arrives, or you need information about filing for unemployment, we have some additional resources to help.

You entered your information incorrectly

The simplest reason the IRS might not be able to match you with your stimulus payment status could come down to your keyboard. If you accidentally entered a typo, the wrong address or a different name than the government has under your record, the tool may not be able to find you. This one is simple enough to correct — so try again before assuming the worst.

You used Turbo Tax, H&R Block or other tax-preparation apps to file past taxes

Your total stimulus allowance is based on your 2018 taxes, or your 2019 taxes, if you already filed them before the government extended the federal tax deadline to July 15.

If you filed your taxes using popular tax preparation software, like Turbo Tax, H&R Block and others, like millions of people (myself included), you may run into issues.

According to The Washington Post:

Several million people who filed their taxes via H&R Block, TurboTax and other services were unable to get their payments because the IRS did not have their direct deposit information on file, according to the Treasury, companies and experts.

The IRS and Treasury departments are aware of the problems and are working on a fix, the Washington Post also said. Again, we reached out to the IRS for more information as well.

You haven’t filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return

It the IRS can’t determine if you’re eligible in the first place, you may see an error message that reads “Payment Status Not Available.” If the IRS doesn’t have your tax information, this message could flash on screen.

Your 2019 return hasn’t been processed yet

If you filed your 2019 taxes ahead of the original April 15 deadline, but the IRS hasn’t had a chance to process you, it won’t be able to determine if you’re eligible for a stimulus payment of how much you’d receive.

The waiting is the hardest part.

You don’t usually file a return, and your information isn’t in the system

You may still be eligible to receive a stimulus payment if you don’t usually file taxes for a number of reasons. The IRS has a system in place for nonfilers (“Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here”), and for people who receive SSA, RRB Form 1099, SSI or VA benefits. The IRS advises that if you see the message “Payment Status Not Available,” your information may not have been processed or loaded into the system. The advice is to try again later.

You’re not eligible to receive a stimulus check

If you see the message “Payment Status Not Available” and you don’t belong to the group above, it may be you aren’t eligible to receive a stimulus check. It might be that your adjusted gross income from the previous year is high enough that you don’t qualify, or you might be in the specific age range that is excluded. We have a handy primer on eligibility, or you can check the IRS website directly.