Some Americans attempting to track the status of their coronavirus stimulus check using the "Get My Payment" tool on the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) website Wednesday were met with a confusing error message. After entering the requested information, they were told "payment status not available," leaving many to wonder exactly what the error message meant.
The message went on to explain that "according to information that we have on file, we cannot determine your eligibility for a payment at this time." It also directed users to the IRS FAQ page, which explained that the error message could be a result of a number of things. According to the IRS, people may see the message when they are not eligible for a payment, are required to file a tax return but haven't filed in tax year 2018 or 2019, recently filed their return or provided information through Non-Filers: Enter Your Payment Info tool, or they are a SSA or RRB Form 1099 recipient, SSI or VA benefit recipient.
The Verge, however, noted that the error message is appearing even when people enter false information. According to the outlet, "if you simply enter a made-up social security number, birth date, and address combination" the message will appear. This suggests that it could possibly be a "generic catch-all error for the system, instead of a useful or actionable error message." Reddit users have also offered suggestions, with one person theorizing that it's "more a backlog/glitch than it is an actual indication that you are not going to receive payment or something is wrong."
Despite those theories, however, the IRS has denied them. In a statement released shortly after Americans began encountering the error message, likewise getting the phrase "payment status not available" trending on Twitter, the IRS said that the tool "is operating smoothly."
"The Get My Payment site is operating smoothly and effectively. As of mid-day today, more than 6.2 million taxpayers have successfully received their payment status and almost 1.1 million taxpayers have successfully provided banking information, ensuring a direct deposit will be quickly sent," the statement read. "IRS is actively monitoring site volume; if site volume gets too high, users are sent to an online 'waiting room; for a brief wait until space becomes available, much like private sector online sites. Media reports saying the tool 'crashed' are inaccurate."
Directing people back to the information given on the FAQ page, the statement added that people "can check the app again to see whether there has been an update to your information" and reminded taxpayers that "Get My Payment data is updated once per day, so there's no need to check back more frequently." The IRS concluded its response by stating that "the IRS continues to closely monitor the situation."