Americans can track stimulus payments on new IRS site

Providing bank-account information can speed up delivery.

  • By Richard Rubin,
  • The Wall Street Journal
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Americans can now track the status of their stimulus payments and provide their bank-account information to get their money faster via direct deposit, thanks to a new IRS website.

The Treasury Department has already issued the first round of payments via direct deposit, sending money to more than 80 million households that had bank-account information on file from their 2018 or 2019 tax returns. That money is starting to show up in bank accounts this week.

The IRS “Get My Payment” system made its debut Wednesday, though it was experiencing high volume and wasn’t providing information to all users. By providing bank-account information, people can get their payments faster through direct deposits instead of paper checks, which may take weeks or months to arrive.

The payments are part of the economic-relief package Congress passed late last month to respond to the coronavirus outbreak. The government is sending $1,200 per adult plus $500 per child under 17. The amounts shrink for individuals with income above $75,000 and married couples with income above $150,000.

The payments are going only to people with Social Security numbers, and people over 16 who are dependents of others aren’t eligible.

To track a payment, taxpayers must provide their Social Security numbers, date of birth and mailing address. To get to the part of the site where they can provide their bank information if they want to switch from paper checks to electronic deposits, they will need to provide information from their most recent tax returns such as income and refund amount.

The first wave of payments sent out came months faster than in 2008, the last time that Congress authorized one-time checks. Then, it took more than two months for Washington to issue the first payments. Paper checks are scheduled to start going out next week, according to the Treasury Department.

Social Security recipients will receive stimulus payments the same way they receive benefits, generally via direct deposit, and they don’t need to file tax returns if not already required to do so.

Treasury said Wednesday that Supplemental Security Income recipients will get stimulus payments automatically as well. Those should come by early May in the same way as their usual payments, though recipients must use the IRS website to claim money for dependent children. The administration has also been exploring ways to get money to recipients of veterans benefits without sending paper checks.

The IRS has already created an online form for people who aren’t required to file tax returns to provide their information.

People who don’t file tax returns, get Social Security or provide bank information will likely get paper checks. The government has been trying to shift as many people as possible away from the checks, and toward direct deposits.

Using the new web-based tool will let people accelerate their payments and avoid a paper check. It will also help the government to get the full set of payments out faster by reducing the number of checks it must mail.

The government has dismantled its capacity for mass check-printing and now expects to produce just 5 million a week. The fewer it needs to print, the sooner that process will finish.

As of Wednesday afternoon, more than 6.2 million people checked their payment status and more than 1 million provided banking information, according to the IRS.

The “status not available” messages received by many users can happen for various reasons—because they are not eligible, they have not filed tax returns for 2018 or 2019, or they are Social Security recipients whose information isn’t in this IRS system.

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