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The White House and congressional leaders reached a $484 billion deal to help small businesses, hospitals and coronavirus testing.

USA TODAY

The heavily criticized “Get My Payment” tool at the Internal Revenue Service website is slated for a makeover. 

The tool at IRS.gov was designed to help people track their coronavirus relief payments and allow taxpayers to provide direct deposit information to receive the Economic Impact Payments more quickly.

Nationwide, taxpayers expressed frustration, especially when they  saw the words “Payment Status Not Available.” 

The IRS will initiate “planned outages” Friday and Saturday, following an outage Thursday. The “Get My Payment” tool will be unavailable starting at 10 p.m. EDT until approximately 1 a.m. “due to planned maintenance.”   

The IRS  expects to be make “critical system updates.” 

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“In an effort to improve the user experience and address some of the concerns raised, our programmers are making critical system updates,” the IRS said in an alert. 

Many people have received their Economic Impact Payments, but millions of others are waiting, many on edge. 

About 88 million people received payments totaling nearly $158 billion through April 17, according to a statement Friday afternoon by the IRS and the Treasury Department. That’s a bit more than half of those who qualify.

The IRS said Friday that nearly 2.95 million people in Michigan have received their money – a total payout exceeding $5 billion. 

More payments are delivered each week. 

The IRS said the payments are automatic for people who filed a tax return in 2018 or 2019 and those who receive Social Security retirement, survivor or disability benefits, as well as Supplemental Security Income and Veterans Affairs beneficiaries who did not file a tax return in the past two years.

Many people become anxious when they hear about a neighbor receiving money and they still haven’t gotten a payment, especially during a time of massive job losses during the coronavirus crisis. 

Some money will be issued via direct deposit, but checks will be mailed, too. The IRS said checks will be mailed in batches of 5 million a week. The mailing of those checks could drag out as much as 20 weeks, according to some estimates.

The checks will be issued in reverse “adjusted gross income” order – starting with people with the lowest incomes. 

Many people hoped the “Get My Payment” tool would help them track their money or supply bank account information for direct deposit.

The IRS has frequently added information online to try to explain problems people face since the system launched April 15.

On April 17, the IRS updated its page to say: 

“The Get My Payment application will return ‘Payment Status Not Available’ for several reasons, including:”

  • You are required to file a tax return, but:
  • We haven’t finished processing your 2019 return.
  • The application doesn’t yet have your data; we’re working on adding more data to allow more people to use it.
  • You don’t usually file a return, and:
  • You used Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here but we haven’t processed your entry yet.
  • You receive an SSA or RRB Form 1099 or SSI or VA benefits; information has not been loaded onto our systems yet for people who don’t normally file a tax return.

Contact Susan Tompor at stompor@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter @tompor. Read more on business and sign up for our business newsletter.

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