updated 3:53 PM CEST, Oct 20, 2020

Difficulties reported with IRS tool for CARES Act rebate payments; ACA reported working to help resolve issue

The American Citizens Abroad says it is working with its contacts at the IRS to resolve problems that an unknown but apparently significant number of expatriate Americans have been having in their attempts to make use of the federal tax agency's online tools for getting their so-called CARES Act recovery rebate payments. 

In an update posted on its website on Monday, the Rockville, Maryland-based, non-profit, non-partisan advocacy organization said "many overseas Americans" had been struggling with the IRS's "Get My Payment" tool, which is designed to enable U.S. citizens and Green Card holders to track their CARES Act recovery rebate payments, and if necessary, to enable them to give the IRS their U.S. bank account information for direct deposit.

"Users have encountered technical glitches, and many are receiving error messages or messages indicating that their eligibility cannot be verified," the ACA noted, in its update.

It added that the IRS has now provided "some additional information regarding the error message" users of the "Get My Payment" tool have been getting, on its  “Get My Payment” FAQ page. 

Here, for example, those expats who have been struggling with a "Payment Status Not Available" message can discover that they could have received this for one of several reasons, including the fact that although they are "required to file a tax return", either the IRS hasn't finished processing their 2019 return or the "application doesn't yet have" their data; or else they are non-filers, and although they correctly used the "Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here" tool, their entry simply hasn't yet been processed – or else, as recipients of either SSA, RRB Form 1099 or SSI or VA benefits, the information necessary to pay them hasn't yet been loaded onto the IRS's systems. Or, worst-case scenario, they simply are "not eligible for a payment". 

Adds the IRS, on its Coronavirus/get-my-payment-frequently-asked-questions page: "We update [the] Get My Payment data once per day, overnight, so there is no need to check more often.

"If you are eligible for a payment and have provided your information either through a recent tax return or the Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here application, please check back for updates."

Claire James Carroll Tweet Apr 15News that taxpayers were having problems with the IRS's Get My Payment tool was reported as early as last Wednesday – the tool had only just gone live – by a U.S.-based wealth management specialist website, ThinkAdvisor.com.  The ThinkAdvisor article was headlined "IRS' New 'Get My Payment Tool' Frustrates Users", and featured a Twitter posting, by an apparently U.S.-based taxpayer, who wrote: "Payment Status Not Available" is just so wild. The IRS will find you if you live in Mordor, but if you try to get your #Stimuluscheck they've suddenly never heard of you."

One week on, that April 15 tweet has now had some 5,100 retweets and 22,600 "likes".  The response to it had apparently been so huge that later on the day she posted it the author followed it up by saying, "Wow this blew up! Stay healthy everyone! And hit me up via dm if you want a sleek website design..."  

Evidence of the frustration is also evident in the responses to an IRS tweet posted on April 20. 

Further clarification
sought: ACA

The ACA said it is working with its IRS contacts to get clarification of the reference to the IRS not having finished processing "your 2019 return", since, it points out, "most individuals will not have filed a return [yet], given the extended deadlines for filing of July 15th."

The ACA says it will continue to update the American expat community on the CARES Act recovery rebate payments issue "as it becomes available" going forward, "including information on how Americans overseas should proceed in providing the IRS with their U.S.-based banking information for direct deposit".

The organization also reminds expats who don't have a U.S. bank account but who would like to receive their payments via direct deposit that the ACA has an agreement with the State Department Federal Credit Union (SDFCU) to enable ACA members to open and maintain an online, U.S.-based account without having to have a U.S. residential address, which most U.S. banks currently require. 

In closing, the ACA urges those who are considering applying for a CARES Act recovery rebate payment to bear in mind that the rebate is connected to U.S. tax issues and "issues of tax compliance", and that if they have any doubts about the matter, they may wish to consult an American expat tax expert, which a recently-relaunched ACA web page can help them to do, before going ahead with an application. 

To read the ACA's notice in full, click here.

The ACA was founded in 1978 in Geneva, Switzerland, and moved its headquarters to the U.S. in 2012.