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Having trouble with the IRS site? Try all caps — yes, really

IRS website error message
A screen grab shows the dreaded “Payment Status Not Available” message that millions of Americans have encountered when trying to track the status of their coronavirus stimulus checks.
(Jim Lo Scalzo / EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

Getting a “payment status not available” error when you’re trying to learn the status of your IRS coronavirus stimulus check? Try this one weird trick that really works: Enter your street address in all caps.

Yes, really. The IRS website had a big update this week, so it’s possible the site only just ported over your information and will let you log in now without having to shout at it. You’re welcome to try typing out your street address the normal way. But if that doesn’t work, don’t despair: Many people, including this reporter, have found that entering their street address in all capital letters was the key to getting in and being able to enter their bank account information in order to have their stimulus funds deposited electronically instead of waiting for a check in the mail.

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?

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After I saw a friend post about it on Facebook over the weekend, my husband Joe and I tried it, thinking “no way.” Yes way. I posted about it on Twitter, thinking maybe some friends and co-workers would see it and be able to get through. To my surprise, hundreds of retweets later, it’s still going strong, with a long thread of replies testifying to its efficacy.

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Some people feel a little upset about needing a life hack to get the IRS tool to work.

Others made wry comments underpinned by how the IRS has long relied on outdated computer systems.

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In any case, if you’re struggling to log in and enter your bank account information, it’s worth trying again in all caps. If that works for you, you can sit back and look forward to receiving a letter prominently signed by the president about it.


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