THE SYSTEM IS BROKEN
This is your stimulus update for April 18, 2020.
Don’t want to read? Watch the video here!
People Getting “Payment Status Not Available” Error then Getting Stimulus
So first thing I want to say, just to offer a little bit of hope, and I obviously haven’t independently verified this, this is not on the IRS website, I’m not seeing media outlets report this, but many of you commenters have told me that they saw the Payment Status Not Available message on the Get My Payment Tool, and then a few hours later they got their stimulus payment. Go figure.
So on the one hand, that’s great. I’m glad you got your stimulus, Chris Hinkle, LoloRandom, and several others.
But on the other hand, this just goes to show how dysfunctional the IRS Get My Payment Tool is.
You’d think that if someone was going to get their stimulus check via direct deposit today, the IRS Get My Payment Tool would tell them and wouldn’t have the “Payment Status Not Available” error.
But of course the silver lining to all this is that even if you get that “Payment Status Not Available” message, you might not have to be concerned too much.
But the scary thing is this “Payment Status Not Available” message could possibly mean, per the IRS, that you’re not eligible for a payment.
And this goes back to my point yesterday about just, look, I get it, IRS has had a lot to do, I acknowledged that, but please don’t give the same messaging to people who are completely eligible for their stimulus and are going to receive it shortly, don’t give those people the same message that you give to those who are not eligible for a stimulus payment.
People Who Need Stimulus the Least Seem to Be Getting It the Fastest
I’m just getting really pissed because it’s seeming to me that the ones who are getting their stimulus payments the easiest and with the least amount of confusion are the ones who need it the least, and the ones who need it the most are the ones the IRS has caused the most confusion for.
And this isn’t a hard-and-fast rule, I’m not saying that if you received your stimulus this week that you didn’t really need it, I’m not saying that to Chris or to LoloRandom or anybody in particular, this is just a general observation, not a scientific fact.
I did an informal poll of my friends about who’s received their stimulus payment.
And generally speaking, there were exceptions to this, but the ones who got their stimulus payment this week with no confusion were the ones who are more or less comfortable, the ones who weren’t even worrying about it, really, the ones for whom an extra $1,200 or $2,400 or $2,900 popped up in their bank account, and it’s just money they don’t need and they’re probably just going to throw it in their Vanguard index funds or a savings account.
Like I’m thinking in particular of a friend I have who’s in engineering with a company you would all know, and based on some quick Google searches of his title and the company he works for I’d estimate he makes about 120 a year, married, wife stays at home with their kid, great family. He let me know he got $2,900 on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, many of the ones who need their payment the most are the ones who have not yet received it and are in fact the most confused about it right now and are getting this stupid “Payment Status Not Available” error.
I’m thinking in particular of individuals who don’t make enough to be required to file a tax return.
Cause if you don’t make enough money to file a tax return, you’re pretty broke, and I hope that’s not offending anybody, because you probably know you’re broke, because you feel it every day, and I feel for you, and I see the comments, you know, I’m down to my last fifty bucks, and I know you had to jump through some hoops with the TurboTax “stimulus edition” or the drunkenly-named “Non-Filers: Enter Your Payment Info Here” application, which just rolled out a week before yesterday.
And now because the IRS probably hasn’t processed that yet, they might have accepted it, but who knows if they’ve processed it yet for stimulus purposes, you’re getting these confusing messages on the IRS Get My Payment Tool like “Payment Status Not Available”.
Meanwhile my engineering friend who probably pulling 120 a year at least, stay-at-home wife, kid, beautiful little family, comfortable, filed his super easy tax return with TurboTax right when he got his W-2, took him all of ten minutes this past February, and he got his stimulus direct deposited, easy-peasy, on Wednesday, and he’s basically forgotten about it today.
Now I don’t begrudge the fact that he got a stimulus, that’s great for him, but why is he getting it before the people who need it the most?
And we also have SSI and Veterans Benefits recipients just receiving clarification this week about whether or not they will receive their payments automatically when people making six figures already got their check that they really didn’t need in the first place.
It’s all backwards, it’s all backwards, and the system is broken.
And I wish I had all the answers in terms of timeline, people ask in the comments, they say, hey, this is my situation, when am I going to get my stimulus? I’ve provided the timelines previously, but as we’ve seen this week, who knows, you know, right?
I mean, theoretically the IRS knows, but I don’t think they really know, I think they’re just flying by the seat of their pants, quite frankly, and I think the timeline will work for many people, but as we’ve seen this week, some people will apparently be left in the lurch.
IRS Apparently Not Respecting Injured Spouse Allocation for Stimulus Purposes
Also another thing I learned from commenters is that it appears that the IRS is screwing people by taking the entire stimulus, both for Spouse A and Spouse B, for those married to those behind on child support, even though they filed injured spouse previously.
And clearly, it’s not supposed to be this way. This is contrary to what the IRS has said on the matter.
And of course there’s no one to reach. And if they could reach somebody at the IRS, they’d probably just be told to file another injured spouse form just for the stimulus — which they shouldn’t have had to do in the first place.
Meanwhile, according to others, apparently some people who owed child support got a stimulus payment.
And again, this is just from commenters on my video yesterday. I haven’t really seen any media reporting this stuff, but I believe you all.
Clearly Unqualified People Getting Stimulus Payments
And look at this, this is my last thing before I get into the questions, I’m in a CPA Facebook group, and one of the CPAs, this isn’t a YouTube comment, so I blurred out the name and stuff, but he said, and I have no reason to think this guy is making this up, I’ve seen him post before, but he claims that a couple, and I assume they don’t have qualifying children, who made $223,000 in 2018 and $247,000 in 2019 got a nice little $2,400 surprise.
Meanwhile those on their last fifty bucks are being shown, “Payment Status Not Available.”
My point is, and you’re probably getting tired of me saying this, but my point is that this whole system is broken.
I’ve probably talked too much, just like yesterday, but now on to the questions.
I made too much to qualify for a stimulus in 2018. In 2019, I am in the phaseout range. What can I do to lower my income to qualify for a full stimulus payment?
So I went over this in the very first stimulus video I did when the CARES Act passed, but by phaseout range what this individual means is they make more than the amount for his or her filing status to qualify for the full stimulus payment.
You’ve heard the max income a single person can have to get the full stimulus of $1,200 for them, excluding children, is $75,000.
And then their maximum stimulus is reduced by five cents on the dollar for every dollar of income over $75,000.
So if this individual has $80,000 of income, the difference between $80,000 and $75,000 is $5,000.
$5,000 times 5 cents on the dollar is $250.
So their maximum stimulus they could get as a single individual with no children is $950, which is $1,200 minus $250.
So the individual is asking, “What are strategies I could implement in order to qualify for the full $1,200 stimulus check?”
That’s a great question, probably the easiest one is to contribute to a Traditional IRA, but if this is the only trick up your sleeve, this wouldn’t work if you’re already covered by a retirement plan at work because in 2019 if you are covered by a retirement plan at work and you make more than $74,000 excluding any potential IRA deduction, then you don’t qualify to take a deduction for your Traditional IRA contributions.
But if you do qualify to take a deduction for a Traditional IRA contribution, know that the deadline to contribute for tax year 2019 has been extended to July 15, 2020. In a normal year it would have been April 15, but the IRS extended it to July 15 this year along with the 1040 deadline and a ton of other deadlines.
And remember, contribution limit is $6,000 for tax year 2019 if you’re under the age of 50 and $7,000 if you’re 50 or older. So if you make $80,000 and your single, no kids, you max out your Traditional IRA, you can bring your income down to $74,000 to qualify for the full stimulus.
And I would also say if you’re a gig worker, freelancer, you have side income you’re reporting on Schedule C, be aggressive with your deductions, I’m not saying to make stuff up, but don’t be afraid to write stuff off, you know. Home office if you qualify, if you use an area in your home regularly and exclusively for your business, not your job, for your business, take that.
Will my stimulus be included in my bankruptcy estate?
So ViridianTax192 asked a great question that I haven’t covered yet: if I’m currently filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, will the bankruptcy trustee take my stimulus check?
Now, if you don’t know how Chapter 13 bankruptcy works, it’s different than Chapter 7, and I think Chapter 7 is what many people associate bankruptcy with: it’s like the Monopoly image, sell all your property, pay off your debts, and the rest is discharged, that’s Chapter 7, and that’s if you’re really broke, very little cash flow, very little income.
Chapter 13, you don’t sell all your stuff, you set up a repayment plan to your creditors over three to five years, and an appointed bankruptcy trustee, that’s an individuals, oversees the administration of this repayment plan, typically the payments are made to the trustee, who then disburses the money to the creditors according to the plan, and then after you’ve completed this repayment plan, your debts are discharged.
So what ViridianTax192 is asking is, hey, can my trustee make my stimulus payment part of my bankruptcy estate to be included in the repayment plan to my creditors?
Now, I’m just speaking federally here, there’s nothing in the CARES Act preventing the bankruptcy trustee from requiring the stimulus payment to be made part of your repayment plan to repay to your creditors, and in fact they have an incentive to do that since the trustee is generally paid a percentage of assets distributed.
So it’s possible.
However, the United States Trustee Program, this is the USTP, that’s the part of the Department of Justice that oversees bankruptcy trustees, said in a notice to trustees: “the United States Trustee expects that it is highly unlikely that the trustee would administer the payment after consideration of all relevant circumstances.”
So they’re basically discouraging trustees from including the stimulus in the bankruptcy estate.
Now, states may have various bankruptcy exemptions that you could use, possibly, but I’m not an attorney, and that’s probably too granular for this video, so I’m going to leave it at that.
I’m on Social Security and get my benefits on my Direct Express card. Will I get my stimulus on my Direct Express card?
Yes, you will, at least according to the Social Security Administration.
But here’s the confusion, what if you filed a tax return with a bank account but you get your benefits on Direct Express, which will the IRS use?
I can’t give you a straight answer here. And the way the IRS has handled things, I wouldn’t surprised if it was 50/50, if someone in your situation would get it on Direct Express, and then you get it to your bank account, it’s really anybody’s guess right now with this stuff.
I would say, try to use the Get My Payment Tool, I know it’s not working for everybody, and I’ve been crapping on it a lot, but some people have had success accessing it to get the details about where their payments going, so be diligent, continue to try to access the Get My Payment tool.
And it’s the same thing with the TurboTax card and the H&R Block Emerald Card, there’s no rhyme or reason here, I’m seeing commenters saying, hey, I got a fee taken out of my refund, and I got my stimulus just fine.
But then others in the exact same situation are not fine, and they’re not getting their stimulus. Go figure.
Anyway, gosh I’m trying to keep these not too long, because I know people don’t necessarily watch the whole thing, but the question they need answered is at the end, but hey happy Saturday, you all, enjoy your weekend, keep trying that Get My Payment tool, and don’t stress, alright? I’ll see you tomorrow.
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Thank you Logan! I learn more from you in 30 min then I learn from the governments media releases in five days. I, for one, appreciate you so much!
I have to agree that those who could benefit the most AND need it the most are having to wait for direct deposit the longest. I am in this boat.
Lots of broken examples. But I bet the good examples outnumber the broken ones 1,000:1!
Amazing 80+ million have gotten stimulus checks. Add on unemployment benefits, PPP loans, and no wonder why it’s back to good times in the stock market.
Keep the faith! The PPP is huge. I can’t believe so much money is being given . Surely, the country will open up within 8 weeks.
Keep the faith!