I Can’t Believe This One Easy Thing Was Holding Up My IRS Stimulus Payment

by joeheg

As part of the CARES Act passed by Congress to help the US economy, Economic Impact Payments were getting sent to eligible individuals. If you received a refund from the IRS for the past two years, you were one of the lucky ones because your bank account information was already on file. That put you towards the front of the line because you didn’t have to wait for a paper check.

What about the millions of Americans who had to pay taxes by sending a check, or changed bank accounts or moved since filing their last tax return? They’d have to wait until their paper checks were sent and the payments were rejected or returned to get their money, and that could take months.

The IRS came up with a way to update your address for the stimulus payments online. As you can imagine, things didn’t go quite as planned.

Many Americans who are eligible for the payment went to the IRS’ website


You needed your personal information and the AGI (Adjusted Gross Income) from your last filed return (2019 or 2018 tax year). At first, I typed in the info and got a reply that’s familiar to many of you.

IRS Not Available

SMH. I pay money to the IRS all the time and they can’t find a record of my payment. Figures. I tried every time I heard the system updated and no luck.

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 IRS.gov 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.

I was surprised this wasn’t also one of their suggestions:


Then someone on Twitter shared an article from the LA Times.

I wondered if the answer could really be that stupidly simple? It was, and it worked,


As the writer of the article says:

There is a technological reason for this involving knowledge of arcane programming and the federal government’s aversion to investing in resolving its tech debt. But the “why” doesn’t matter quite so much as the “whoa” here, which is: Whoa, this works?

Don’t think that the IRS computer programming was written when everything “IN COMPUTER” was written with capital letters. The reason solutions like this work are the same thing causing states to scramble and find COBOL programmers to update their unemployment systems.

So if you still haven’t been able to get the IRS Payment Status website to work, pretend you’re someone who doesn’t understand computer AND YELL YOUR ADDRESS IN ALL CAPS!

Which is the first time that’s worked for anything?

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

Cover Photo (cropped) NYC IRS office by MBisanz is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0




Marcus April 29, 2020 - 4:29 pm

What a misleading headline. This didn’t hold up the payment. It merely held up your ability to find out its status. Big difference.

joeheg May 2, 2020 - 6:21 pm

The status showed they didn’t have my banking account. So by being able to check, I could enter in my account info and receive my payment faster that if I needed to wait for a check in the mail.

Carl WV April 29, 2020 - 5:56 pm

I saw this before Has anybody tried it with regular letters (and failed) and then tried all caps right afterwards (and succeeded)? Or can somebody that it works with caps (and though that was the solution) then try with regular letters?

I wonder if it isn’t just timing, and some testing would be nice. I am always skeptical of purely anecdotal points.

But I tried – and neither worked.

joeheg May 2, 2020 - 6:23 pm

I tried to get my status a few days before and it didn’t work. To do a scientific test, I should have tried the lower case again before trying all caps. I was so sure that it wasn’t going to work that I just did the caps trick.


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