TAMPA, Fla. — Last week, the IRS began depositing COVID-19 relief payments into taxpayers’ bank accounts and provided a new online website allowing them to check the status.
But soon after it became active, the I-Team began getting complaints from people who were having a hard time tracking or receiving their payments.
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And as we began digging for answers, we found that unless you have specific problems easily explained on the IRS website, there’s not an easy way to find out why your information is not being accepted.
“I couldn’t even find a toll free number to call,” said Bruce Walters.
He owns a travel marketing company that was hit hard over the last two months by the coronavirus pandemic.
Waters wants to know when his much-needed relief payment will arrive.
“When you’re struggling to figure out how to pay your bills and how to pay your rent with all these bills that keep coming in, that’s very stressful. It’s very hard,” Waters said.
Since last week, he has logged onto the IRS “Get My Payment” website daily to see when his money would arrive.
“It comes back and it tells me that they cannot determine my eligibility and it ends there. The only option is the exit button,” Waters said.
It’s been a problem for a lot of taxpayers who say they’ve supplied the IRS with their correct names, social security numbers and banking information. However, they can’t get answers.
Lauren Johnson works as a remote customer service representative from her home.
“I would just be happy if the message was clear. It keeps telling me my information is wrong and it’s not,” Johnson said.
She says she’s entered her street address and other information multiple times, based on the information she used when she filed taxes last year, but keeps getting locked out of the system.
“I would think, this would be a great at home job for somebody for the IRS, to be answering calls. They could be putting their people back to work. Just to tell us what is going on,” Johnson said.
We contacted the IRS about these problems and requested an interview.
The agency would only sent us a week-old press release which reports, “The Get My Payment site is operating smoothly and effectively.”
It also provides a list of potential reasons taxpayers may be having trouble logging on.
According to the press release, in situations where payment status is not available, the app will respond with “Status Not Available.” The IRS reminds users you may receive this message for one of the following reasons:
- If you are not eligible for a payment (see IRS.gov on who is eligible and who is not eligible)
- If you are required to file a tax return and have not filed in tax year 2018 or 2019.
- If you recently filed your return or provided information through Non-Filers: Enter Your Payment Info on IRS.gov. Your payment status will be updated when processing is completed.
- If you are a SSA or RRB Form 1099 recipient, SSI or VA benefit recipient – the IRS is working with your agency to issue your payment; your information is not available in this app yet.
Congressman Gus Bilirakis (R-Palm Harbor) tells the I-Team he's working with the IRS to figure out why constituents are getting a “payment status unknown” message.
His office reports he is pushing the agency to work out the glitches, and in the meantime, his office is offering individual help to constituents.
Bilirakis’ office sent the following statement regarding these issues:
Anyone in our district who needs individual inquiries may send a request to our office at FL12IRS@mail.house.gov and our caseworkers will try to get them answers. Keep in mind 80 million Americans got their stimulus checks by last Wed. and several million more each day since have gotten them. The Congressman’s goal is to help ensure everyone who is entitled to one gets it as soon as possible. He knows how many of his constituents are hurting right now and are relying on this help.
Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Tampa) says she’s also hearing from frustrated citizens.
In an emailed statement she said:
It is unbelievable to me that the IRS and the State of Florida Unemployment Insurance websites continue to frustrate the efforts of so many of families and seniors in these difficult times. Their lack of efficiency and effectiveness in providing these two lifelines that Congress established is disturbing. I am working to speed relief to the Tampa area quickly, and talking every day to many neighbors who need so much – right now! As I heard on my fifth telephone town hall last night, none of my neighbors have time to wait any longer for the State of Florida and the Trump administration to get their act together.
For contact information to her office, click here.
Rep. Charlie Crist (D-St. Petersburg) has also been getting lots of calls. If you are a constituent of his district, click here for his contact information.
Senator Rick Scott (R-Florida) is addressing concerns from citizens all over the state.
His office sent the following statement to the I-Team:
Senator Rick Scott has been in constant communication with the IRS, Department of Treasury, the Small Business Administration and the Department of Labor to determine how to more efficiently get help to those in need. This office is also available to help Floridians in any way we can –our contact information can be found here.
For the Frequently Asked Questions regarding Get My Payment website issues from the IRS, click here.
If you have a story you’d like the I-Team to investigate, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org