IRS sending billions of stimulus {dollars} and plus-up funds. This is find out how to observe your cash

Stimulus check payments aren’t over yet for everyone. 


Sarah Tew/CNET

Next month’s child tax credit rollout might be consuming a lot of the IRS’s bandwidth these days, but the tax agency is still focused on sending weekly batches of the third stimulus checks. So far during the month of June, the tax agency has sent more than $6 billion in stimulus payments, with half coming as direct deposit and the other half as paper checks. Some of that money includes “plus-up” adjustments for people who received less money than they were supposed to get in earlier checks. 

Even though many of us got our stimulus money in the earlier batches in spring, some have had to wait weeks or months for their checks. The IRS sent money first to people who’d already filed their 2019 or 2020 tax returns because those were the easiest to verify. So if you’re still waiting for your stimulus check up to $1,400 — or think you might be due a plus-up payment — we’ll tell you what to do next. 

In the meantime, many experts say a fourth stimulus check is unlikely, but millions of families will be getting a good chunk of money with July’s first child tax credit payment. We can tell you how to know if you qualify and how much money you could expect over the course of the year. The IRS is also issuing unemployment tax refunds to millions of people who received jobless benefits last year, though payments are taking longer than expected. This story was updated recently.

Stimulus and plus-up payments are still being issued

The amount of money you got in your stimulus checks depends on a multitude of factors, including how much money you made for the year (this is your adjusted gross income), how many eligible kids you had and so on. This is the kind of information the IRS largely gets from your tax return, or from other sources of information if you don’t typically file taxes.  Since the third stimulus checks began arriving in the middle of tax season, the end result is that some people’s payments were calculated based on information the IRS had from last year, not from this year.

That means the IRS might owe you more money even if you already got a stimulus check. Let’s say you had a new baby or made less money. As part of the IRS processing your tax return, if it determines that you’re actually owed more than you got, the agency may send a plus-up payment. So far, the IRS has sent billions in payments this way. Given an extended tax due date (May 17 instead of the usual April 15), delays in processing tax returns and a backlog from last year’s tax returns, the IRS will likely be sending out plus-up payments through December.


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How to track your stimulus check online

With the IRS Get My Payment tool, you can get a daily update on your payment status. The online app can also alert you with a message if there’s a problem with your payment that you may need to address. Another option is to create an online account with the IRS, if you haven’t already. 

If you are sent a plus-up payment after your 2020 tax return is processed, the amount of your third payment will no longer show up on the tool, according to the IRS. In that case you will only see the status of your plus-up payment. 

If you expect your payment to come in the mail, you can use a free tool from the US Postal Service to track your mailed stimulus payment.

Stimulus check delivery start and end dates

First direct deposits made March 17
First paper checks sent Week of March 15
First EIP cards sent Week of March 22
First Social Security, SSI, SSDI payment sent Weekend of April 3, most arriving April 7
First plus-up payments Weekend of April 3
VA benefits for veteran nonfilers Week of April 14
IRS deadline to finish sending checks Dec. 31, 2021 (mandated by the bill)
Last date to receive a check January 2022 (if mailed checks sent late December)
Final claims for missing stimulus money 2021 tax season likely (in 2022)

What might be holding up your stimulus payment

Here’s some information on possible delays with your stimulus check and other problems you might encounter.

Update on a fourth stimulus check

Millions have been clamoring for recurring stimulus payments, and some lawmakers have expressed support for more relief aid through the pandemic. But President Joe Biden hasn’t pledged support to a fourth check, focusing instead on his proposed family and jobs packages and the recent infrastructure deal

In a press conference on June 3, White House press secretary Jen Psaki played down the possibility of a fourth stimulus check, asserting that the administration has already put forward an economic recovery plan. Through the debate in Washington over additional economic impact payments continues, it’s looking increasingly unlikely that there will be any more direct payments this year. 

If your third stimulus amount is less than expected

The IRS isn’t particularly big on communicating how much money it calculates for your stimulus check. You won’t find that figure in the agency’s online tracking tool, but you will see it in the confirmation letter you’ll receive in the mail. (And here’s why you got the payment size you did.) 

So what happens if you use our stimulus check calculator and notice the numbers seem way off, or the IRS letter quotes an amount you didn’t receive? Start by triple-checking your qualifications to make sure you’re eligible for the total you expect. Remember the IRS is automatically sending plus-up payments after the agency receives your 2020 tax return. If you had a baby or otherwise added a dependent in 2020, you won’t need to file an amended tax form to claim the supplement.

The IRS could open up claims for missing stimulus money before its Dec. 31 deadline to stop sending checks. If not, you might have to wait a year to claim it — when you file your 2021 taxes in 2022 (even if you’re a nonfiler who isn’t typically required to file taxes).

What to do if you’re missing money from the first two stimulus checks

Plus-up payments are going out weekly along with the third round of checks, but they may not be the only money you’re due. For money missing from the first two checks, you need to claim that on your 2020 taxes. We suggest making sure you know where to find your adjusted gross income. You may be eligible to claim the 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit for claiming missing money from the first two checks.

Also, last week, the IRS launched a new online for non-tax filer families called the “Non-filer Sign-up Tool.” Its purpose is to help eligible families who don’t normally file a tax return enroll in the monthly child tax credit advance payment program, which is slated to begin July 15. However, the tool is also for those who did not file either a 2019 or 2020 tax return and did not use the previous non-filers tool last year to register for stimulus payments. 

In other words, individuals who experience homelessness or make little or no income can use this tool to enter their personal details for the IRS to receive the $1,400 stimulus checks or claim the recovery rebate credit for any amount of the first two rounds of payments that might have been missed. Tax nonfilers may need to be proactive about claiming a new dependent, too.

How to notify the IRS of an issue with your stimulus check

The IRS doesn’t want you to call if you encounter a problem with the delivery or amount of your stimulus check. So what to do instead? Our guide walks you through how to report stimulus check problems, including checks that never arrived (try filing a payment trace), direct deposit payments that went to the wrong account and other issues.


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Don’t throw away the IRS letter about your stimulus payment

Hold on to that IRS letter that confirms your stimulus payment, including the amount and how the IRS sent your money. That letter from the IRS — Notice 1444-C — is your proof that the IRS sent a payment in case you don’t actually receive it or if you received less than you qualify for and need to claim the missing amount later. Here’s more on what to do with that IRS letter.

How taxes play a role in your stimulus payment amount

Taxes were due May 17. So how will the IRS figure out how much it owes you? It will calculate your total (you can also do that here) based on the most recent tax filing it’s processed when tabulating the amount of your stimulus check.

If you know your tax return was already processed, the amount of your stimulus check will likely be based on your 2020 adjusted gross income, not on your 2019 AGI. That presents complications if the difference between the two years disqualifies you from getting a third stimulus check

On the flip side, if the IRS uses your 2019 taxes and you’re owed more money based on your 2020 AGI and dependents, you could get a plus-up payment. If you got more than you’re owed, you’ll only need to return it to the IRS in some cases. 

When the stimulus checks will stop being issued 

Most of the third stimulus check payments have gone out from the IRS and US Department of the Treasury, based on the information the IRS has on hand to determine payment amounts. The March stimulus law, however, gives these federal agencies until Dec. 31, 2021, to send out all the third checks. That gives the IRS room to process 2020 tax returns and square up payments for those who are owed plus-up amounts, folks who filed for a 2020 tax extension and other groups, like people who moved or don’t have a fixed address (such as people experiencing homelessness).

009-cash-money-third-stimulus-checks-biden-federal-unemployment-1400-300-payments

Millions could end up receiving a smaller stimulus check than they’re owed.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Other important information about stimulus checks

Stimulus checks aren’t necessarily a one-size-fits-all situation. Here are guides for:

Hundreds of thousands extra stimulus checks despatched out: Monitor your cash, plus-up fee and extra

Stimulus check money doesn’t grow on trees, but if you unexpectedly receive a plus-up payment, it might feel that way. 


Sarah Tew/CNET

Did you think stimulus check season was over? It’s not. The IRS recently sent another 2.3 million payments amounting to a total of $4.2 billion. That means that even if you already got your third stimulus check, it’s possible more money could be en route. As part of this year’s tax season, the IRS is sending out extra money, or “plus-up” payments, to people who didn’t get quite as much of the stimulus payment as they were meant to. 

Those extra payments could be due to a calculation error with the IRS, but not always. If the IRS takes a look at your tax forms and then determines you’re owed a larger share of stimulus money than you already received, the agency will give you the difference in a plus-up payment. Of course, if you’re still waiting for your $1,400 to show up, we’ll also explain how to track the status of your payment and report a problem

Some $395 billion in payments have been made overall since the American Rescue Plan in March. And there’s even more good news if you have kids. We can help you calculate your upcoming child tax credit payments, explain three ways to know if you qualify and why two letters from the IRS could land in your mailbox. And here’s the story with the IRS sending unemployment tax refunds to millions. This story was updated recently.

Who gets stimulus checks and plus-up payments now

The IRS Is making weekly batches of payments, and included in this latest wave are 900,000 checks for a total of $1.9 billion to those who recently filed a tax return, allowing the IRS to determine they were eligible for a payment. The IRS also sent in the batch of 1.1 million plus-up payments, for more than $2.5 billion.

What are plus-up stimulus payments? Depending on which year’s tax form the IRS used when it did the math on your third payment, the IRS may have calculated the amount of the payment using an older tax form instead of your 2020 filing. If this is your situation, once the IRS receives your 2020 tax return and calculates your third payment again, you could be due more money based on information from your current filing — or other factors if you don’t usually file.

The IRS said it’s automatically sending these plus-up payments if it needs to square up the amount it owes you, but to double-check the math, you may want to confirm how much money you should expect this stimulus round and then track your payment.


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Tracking your stimulus payment online

With the IRS Get My Payment tool, you can get a daily update on your payment status. The online app can also alert you with a message if there’s a problem with your payment that you may need to address. It can’t, however, give updates on your plus-up payment from the IRS.

If you expect your payment to come in the mail, you can use a free tool from the US Postal Service to track your mailed stimulus payment.

Reasons for possible delays in stimulus payments

Here’s more information on problems you might encounter with your stimulus check.

Reporting an issue with your stimulus check

The IRS doesn’t want you to call if you encounter a problem with the delivery or amount of your stimulus check. So what to do instead? Our guide walks you through how to report stimulus check problems, including checks that never arrived (try filing a payment trace), direct deposit payments that went to the wrong account and other issues.

Stimulus check delivery start and end dates

First direct deposits made March 17 (official)
First paper checks sent Week of March 15
First EIP cards sent Week of March 22
First Social Security, SSI, SSDI payment sent Weekend of April 3, most arriving April 7
First plus-up payments Weekend of April 3
VA benefits for veteran nonfilers Week of April 14
IRS deadline to finish sending checks Dec. 31, 2021 (mandated by the bill)
Last date to receive a check January 2022 (if mailed checks sent late December)
Final claims for missing stimulus money 2021 tax season likely (in 2022)

What to do if your stimulus check is smaller than expected

The IRS isn’t particularly big on communicating how much money it calculates for your stimulus check. You won’t find that figure in the agency’s online tracking tool, but you will see it in the confirmation letter you’ll receive in the mail. (And here’s why you got the payment size you did.) 

So what happens if you use our stimulus check calculator and notice the numbers seem way off, or the IRS letter quotes an amount you didn’t receive? Start by triple-checking your qualifications to make sure you’re eligible for the total you expect. Remember the IRS is automatically sending plus-up payments and that happens after the agency receives your 2020 tax return. If you had a baby or otherwise added a dependent in 2020, you won’t need to file an amended tax form to claim the supplement.

The IRS could open up claims for missing stimulus money before its Dec. 31 deadline to stop sending checks. If not, you might have to wait a year to claim it — when you file your 2021 taxes in 2022 (even if you’re a nonfiler who isn’t typically required to file taxes).

Update on a fourth stimulus check 

Millions have been clamoring for recurring stimulus payments, and some lawmakers have expressed support for more relief aid through the pandemic. But President Joe Biden hasn’t pledged support to a fourth check, focusing instead on his proposed American Families Plan and American Jobs Plan. 

In a press conference on June 3, White House press secretary Jen Psaki played down the possibility of a fourth stimulus payment, asserting that the administration has already put forward an economic recovery plan. We’ll continue to follow the debate in Washington over additional economic impact payments.

What that IRS letter is for

We think you should hold on to that IRS letter that confirms your stimulus payment, including the amount and how the IRS sent your money. That letter from the IRS — Notice 1444-C — is your proof that the IRS sent a payment in case you don’t actually receive it or if you received less than you qualify for and need to claim the missing amount later. Here’s more on what to do with that IRS letter.

Stimulus checks and 2020 tax returns

Taxes were due May 17. So how will the IRS figure out how much it owes you? It will calculate your total (you can also do that here) based on the most recent tax filing it’s processed when tabulating the amount of your stimulus check.

If you know your tax return was already processed, your total will likely be based on your 2020 adjusted gross income, not on your 2019 AGI. That presents complications if the difference between the two years disqualifies you from getting a third stimulus check

On the flip side, if the IRS uses your 2019 taxes and you’re owed more money based on your 2020 AGI and dependents, you could get a plus-up payment. If you got more than you’re owed, you’ll only need to return it to the IRS in some cases. 

Stimulus payment schedule 2021

Most of the third stimulus check payments have gone out from the IRS and US Department of the Treasury, based on the information the IRS has on hand to determine payment amounts. The March stimulus law, however, gives these federal agencies until Dec. 31, 2021, to send out all the third checks. That gives the IRS room to process 2020 tax returns and square up payments for those who are owed plus-up amounts, folks who filed for a 2020 tax extension and other groups, like people who moved or don’t have a fixed address (such as people experiencing homelessness).

If all or part of your stimulus check doesn’t arrive by the end of the year, you’ll need to claim missing money via a 2021 tax return in April 2022, a year from now. This would be similar to the Recovery Rebate Credit for claiming missing money from the first two checks, which is currently in effect for 2020 taxes.

Stimulus check payments made to date

Direct deposit Paper checks EIP Card Direct Express Card Plus-up
No. of payments March 17 to May 12 137.3 million ($331 billion) 21.8 million ($48.4 billion) 5 million ($11 billion) 3.1 million 4.1 million ($7.5 billion)
No. of payments May 19 and 26 900,000 ($1.6 billion) 900,000 ($1.9 billion) 900,000 ($1.6 million)
No. of payments June 2 and 9 1.2 million ($2.2 billion) 1.1 million ($2 billion) 1.1 million ($2.5 billion)

If the IRS still owes you money for other stimulus checks

Plus-up payments are going out weekly along with the third round of checks, but they may not be the only money you’re due. For money missing from the first two checks, you need to claim that on your 2020 taxes. We suggest making sure you also know where to find your adjusted gross income. Tax nonfilers may need to be proactive about claiming a new dependent, too.

009-cash-money-third-stimulus-checks-biden-federal-unemployment-1400-300-payments

Millions could end up receiving a smaller stimulus check than they’re owed.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Information for SSI, SSDI recipients and veterans 

Veterans receiving VA benefits and people who get SSDI and SSI benefits are now receiving stimulus checks from the IRS and Treasury. Delivery details should now be available in the Get My Payment tool

You might get your stimulus money by direct deposit to existing Direct Express cards if this is how you normally receive benefits, and if you didn’t file taxes in 2019 or 2020. Otherwise, the money could come in the mail. (Here’s what to look for so you know it’s legit.) The SSA says that Social Security beneficiaries like SSI and SSDI groups will not receive an EIP debit card

If you’re a tax nonfiler and used the IRS’ Non-Filers tool by November 2020 to submit information, you may have already received your check. 


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Additional rules and exceptions 

Stimulus checks aren’t necessarily a one-size-fits-all situation. Here are guides for:

Stimulus test replace: How one can monitor your IRS cash, ‘plus-up’ funds and extra

Are you out on a limb waiting for your third stimulus check? 


Sarah Tew/CNET

The IRS announced on May 26 that it had disbursed an additional $1.8 million in stimulus payments and that it will continue to issue the $1,400 checks on a weekly basis to those who qualify. If your money wasn’t in the mail or deposited into your account in this latest round, you can use an IRS tracker to see what could be delaying your money.

The IRS is also sending ongoing supplemental “plus-up” payments to those who qualify under the American Rescue Plan passed in March. That most recent stimulus package included the enhanced child tax credit for families and a tax exemption for individuals who received unemployment benefits in 2020 during the pandemic. 

If you need to report a stimulus check problem or file a payment trace, we can help. If you have dependents, we can help you calculate how much you’ll receive in child tax credit payments and tell you more about the upcoming IRS portals. We’re also trying to follow the debate over a possible fourth stimulus payment. And here’s how to check if an employer owes you back wages. This story is updated regularly.

What’s the deal with the third stimulus checks and plus-up payments?

The IRS has recently sent two batches of payments for more than $3.5 billion: $1.9 billion as paper checks in the mail and another $1.6 billion as direct deposits to bank accounts. These batches also included 900,000 payments for $1.9 billion to eligible individuals the IRS didn’t have information for and who recently filed a tax return, along with two more rounds of plus-up payments for $1.6 billion.

What are plus-up stimulus payments? Depending on which year’s tax form the IRS used when it did the math on your third payment, the IRS may have calculated the amount of the payment using an older tax form instead of your 2020 filing. If this is your situation, once the IRS receives your 2020 tax return and calculates your third payment again, you could be due more money based on information from your current filing — or on other factors if you don’t usually file.

The IRS said it’s automatically sending these plus-up stimulus payments if it needs to square up the amount it owes you, but to double-check the math, you may want to confirm how much money you should expect this stimulus round, and then track your payment.

How can the IRS tracking tool find your payment?

With the IRS Get My Payment tracker tool, you can get a daily update on the status of your payment. The online app can also alert you with a message if there’s a problem with your payment that you may need to address. It can’t, however, give an update on your plus-up payment status from the IRS.

If you expect your payment to come in the mail, you can use a free tool from the US Postal Service to track your mailed stimulus payment.


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Stimulus plus-up payments: What you need to know

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What if there’s an issue with your third stimulus payment?

The IRS doesn’t want you to call if you encounter a problem with the delivery or amount of your stimulus check. So what to do instead? Our guide walks you through how to report stimulus check problems, including checks that never arrived (try filing a payment trace), direct deposit payments that went to the wrong account and other issues.

Stimulus check delivery start and end dates

First direct deposits made March 17 (official)
First paper checks sent Week of March 15
First EIP cards sent Week of March 22
First Social Security, SSI, SSDI payment sent Weekend of April 3, most arriving April 7
First plus-up payments Weekend of April 3
VA benefits for veteran nonfilers Week of April 14
IRS deadline to finish sending checks Dec. 31, 2021 (mandated by the bill)
Last date to receive a check January 2022 (if mailed checks sent late December)
Final claims for missing stimulus money 2021 tax season likely (in 2022)

Why might your stimulus check be delayed?

Here’s more information on problems you might encounter with your stimulus check.

What if your check is less money than you anticipated?

The IRS isn’t particularly big on communicating how much money it calculates for your stimulus check. You won’t find that figure in the agency’s online tracking tool, but you will see it in the confirmation letter you’ll receive in the mail. (And here’s why you got the payment size you did.) 

So what happens if you use our stimulus check calculator and notice the numbers seem way off, or the IRS letter quotes an amount you didn’t receive? Start by triple-checking your qualifications to make sure you’re eligible for the total you expect. Remember the IRS is automatically sending plus-up payments and that happens after the agency receives your 2020 tax return. If you had a baby or otherwise added a dependent in 2020, you won’t need to file an amended tax form to claim the supplement.

The IRS could open up claims for missing stimulus money before its Dec. 31 deadline to stop sending checks. If not, you might have to wait a year to claim it — when you file your 2021 taxes in 2022 (even if you’re a nonfiler who isn’t typically required to file taxes).

How does your 2020 tax return affect your stimulus payment amount?

Taxes were due May 17. So how will the IRS figure out how much it owes you? It will calculate your total (you can also do that here) based on the most recent tax filing it’s processed when tabulating the amount of your stimulus check.

If you know your tax return was already processed, your total will likely be based on your 2020 adjusted gross income, not on your 2019 AGI. That presents complications if the difference between the two years disqualifies you from getting a third stimulus check

On the flip side, if the IRS uses your 2019 taxes and you’re owed more money based on your 2020 AGI and dependents, you could get a plus-up payment. If you got more money than you’re owed, you’ll only need to return it to the IRS in some cases. 

Could your third stimulus payment come as late as the summer or even the fall? 

Most of the third stimulus check payments have gone out from the IRS and US Department of the Treasury based on the information the IRS has on hand to determine payment amounts. The March stimulus law, however, gives these federal agencies until Dec. 31, 2021, to send out all the third checks. That gives the IRS room to process 2020 tax returns and square up payments for those who are owed plus-up amounts, folks who filed for a 2020 tax extension and other groups, like people who moved or don’t have a fixed address (such as people experiencing homelessness).

If all or part of your stimulus check doesn’t arrive by the end of the year, you’ll need to claim missing money via a 2021 tax return in April 2022, a year from now. This would be similar to the Recovery Rebate Credit for claiming missing money from the first two checks, which is currently in effect for 2020 taxes.

Stimulus check payments made to date

Direct deposit Paper checks EIP Card Direct Express Card Plus-up
No. of payments March 17 to May 12 137.3 million ($331 billion) 21.8 million ($48.4 billion) 5 million ($11 billion) 3.1 million 4.1 million ($7.5 billion)
No. of payments May 19 and 26 900,000 ($1.6 billion) 900,000 ($1.9 billion) 900,000 ($1.6 billion)

What about that IRS letter confirming the third check? 

We think you should hold on to that IRS letter signed by President Joe Biden that confirms your stimulus payment, including the amount and how the IRS sent your money. That letter from the IRS — Notice 1444-C — is your proof that the IRS sent a payment in case you don’t actually receive it or if you received less than you qualify for and need to claim the missing amount later. Here’s more on what to do with that IRS letter.

What if the IRS owes you money for the other two stimulus checks?

Plus-up payments are going out weekly along with the third round of checks, but they may not be the only money you’re due. For money missing from the first two checks, you need to claim that on your 2020 taxes. We suggest making sure you also know where to find your adjusted gross income. Tax nonfilers may need to be proactive about claiming a new dependent, too.

009-cash-money-third-stimulus-checks-biden-federal-unemployment-1400-300-payments

Millions could end up receiving a smaller stimulus check than they’re owed.


Sarah Tew/CNET

What should SSI, SSDI recipients and veterans know?

Veterans receiving VA benefits and people who get SSDI and SSI benefits are now receiving stimulus checks from the IRS and Treasury. Delivery details should now be available in the Get My Payment tool

You might get your stimulus money by direct deposit to existing Direct Express cards if this is how you normally receive benefits, and if you didn’t file taxes in 2019 or 2020. Otherwise, the money could come in the mail. (Here’s what to look for so you know it’s legit.) The SSA says that Social Security beneficiaries like SSI and SSDI groups will not receive an EIP debit card

If you’re a tax nonfiler and you used the IRS’ Non-Filers tool by November 2020 to submit information, you may have already received your check before other Social Security recipients. 


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What about other rules and exceptions to know?

Stimulus checks aren’t necessarily a one-size-fits-all situation. Here are guides for:

Could there be a fourth stimulus check in 2021?

The American Rescue Plan had barely become law in March when lawmakers started pushing for a fourth stimulus check, either in the form of another one-time payment or as recurring payments for the duration of the pandemic. Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and 19 other members of the Senate earlier this spring sent a letter to Biden urging him to include recurring direct payments in his upcoming stimulus proposals.

Others in Washington, such as Rep. Pramila Jayapal, a Democrat from Washington, are proposing $1,000 recurring monthly payments to help those who continue to struggle through the pandemic.

Biden has not committed to another round of payments, and White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the administration will look to Congress for a proposal for a fourth payment.

Stimulus checks, plus-up funds, monitoring your cash: All the pieces to know

Out on a limb trying to figure out where your stimulus money is? Help is here. 


Sarah Tew/CNET

The IRS is teeing up another batch of payments this week to eligible taxpayers, coming by mail as a paper check or going straight to bank accounts as a direct deposit. If you’re still waiting for your stimulus check for up to $1,400, however, you can comb through the IRS weekly payment schedule and use the IRS tracking tools to get an idea of the timeline.

On top of the third stimulus checks, the IRS is sending “plus-up” payments to those who qualify for the supplemental payment under the American Rescue Plan. Passed in March, that stimulus package also included the advance child tax credit and a tax exemption for 2020 unemployment benefits.

Here’s what you should know about reporting a stimulus check problem and when to file a payment trace. If you have dependents, look out for the advance child tax credit payments to begin in July — you can calculate how much you’ll receive here  — and learn more about the upcoming IRS portals for that credit. Also, we’re following the debate over a possible fourth stimulus payment. This story is updated on a frequent basis.

Who is getting the third stimulus checks and plus-up payments?

The IRS sent more than $1.7 billion this last week to those who are eligible: $949 million as paper checks in the mail and another $809 million as direct deposits to bank accounts. This batch includes payments to eligible individuals the IRS didn’t have information for and recently filed a tax return along with another round of plus-up payments.

What are plus-up stimulus payments? Depending on which year’s tax form the IRS used when it did the math on your third payment, the IRS may have calculated the amount of the payment using an older tax form instead of your 2020 filing. If this is your situation, once the IRS receives your 2020 tax return and calculates your third payment again, you could be due more money based on information from your current filing — or on other factors if you don’t usually file.

The IRS said it’s automatically sending these plus-up stimulus payments if it needs to square up the amount it owes you, but to double-check the math, you may want to confirm how much money you should expect this stimulus round, and then track your payment.

How can the IRS tracking tool tell you the status of your stimulus payment?

With the IRS Get My Payment tracker tool, you can get a daily update on the status of your payment. The online app can also alert you with a message if there’s a problem with your payment that you may need to address. It can’t, however, give up an update on your plus-up payment status from the IRS.

If you expect your payment to come in the mail, you use a free tool from the US Postal Service to track your mailed stimulus payment.

What is the IRS payment schedule for the third stimulus checks? 

Most of the third stimulus check payments have gone out from the IRS and US Department of the Treasury based on the information the IRS has on hand to determine payment amounts. This week, that includes 500,000 payments to those the IRS just received a tax return for. The March stimulus law, however, gives these federal agencies until Dec. 31, 2021, to send out all the third checks. That gives the IRS room to process 2020 tax returns and square up payments for those who are owed plus-up amounts, folks who filed for a 2020 tax extension and other groups, like people who moved or don’t have a fixed address (such as people experiencing homelessness).

If all or part of your stimulus check doesn’t arrive by then, you’ll need to claim missing money via a 2021 tax return in April 2022, a year from now. This would be similar to the Recovery Rebate Credit for claiming missing money from the first two checks, which is currently in effect for 2020 taxes.

Stimulus check payments made to date

Direct deposit Paper checks EIP Card Direct Express Card Plus-up
1st payment batch — March 17 90 million ($242 billion) 150,000 ($442 million) Not disclosed Not disclosed Not disclosed
2nd payment batch — March 24 17 million ($38 billion) 15 million ($34 billion) 5 million ($11 billion) Not disclosed Not disclosed
3rd payment batch, including Social Security — April 3 2 million ($5 billion) 2 million ($5 billion) Not disclosed Not disclosed Not disclosed
4th payment batch, including first plus-up payment — April 7 24 million ($33 billion) 1 million ($3 billion) Not disclosed 3.1 million 1 million ($2 million)
5th payment batch, including nonfiler veterans — April 14 1.2 million ($2 billion) 800,000 ($1.4 billion) Not disclosed Not disclosed 700,000 ($1.2 billion)
6th payment batch — April 21 900,000 ($1.5 billion) 1.1 million ($1.8 billion) Not disclosed Not disclosed 700,000 ($1.2 billion)
7th payment batch — April 28 1.1 million ($2.5 billion) 850,000 ($1.8 billion) Not disclosed Not disclosed 730,000 ($1.3 billion)
8th payment batch — May 5 600,000 ($1.1 billion) 500,000 ($900 million) Not disclosed Not disclosed 570,000 ($1 billion)
9th payment batch — May 12 500,000 ($946 million) 460,000 ($854 million) Not disclosed Not disclosed 460,000 ($800 million)
10th payment batch — May 19 $809 million $949 million Not disclosed Not disclosed Not disclosed

Is that IRS letter on the third payment worth keeping? 

We think you should hold on to that IRS letter signed by President Joe Biden that confirms your stimulus payment, including the amount and how the IRS sent your money. That letter from the IRS — Notice 1444-C — is your proof that the IRS sent a payment in case you don’t actually receive it or if you received less than you qualify for and need to claim the missing amount later. Here’s more on what to do with that IRS letter.


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Start here if there’s a problem with your stimulus payment

The IRS doesn’t want you to call if you encounter a problem with the delivery or amount of your stimulus check. So what to do instead? Our guide walks you through how to report stimulus check problems, including checks that never arrived (try filing a payment trace), direct deposit payments that went to the wrong account and other issues.

Why is there a delay with your stimulus check?

Here’s more information on problems you might encounter with your stimulus check.

Stimulus check delivery start and end dates

First direct deposits made March 17 (official)
First paper checks sent Week of March 15
First EIP cards sent Week of March 22
First Social Security, SSI, SSDI payment sent Weekend of April 3, most arriving April 7
First plus-up payments Weekend of April 3
VA benefits for veteran nonfilers Week of April 14
IRS deadline to finish sending checks Dec. 31, 2021 (mandated by the bill)
Last date to receive a check January 2022 (if mailed checks sent late December)
Final claims for missing stimulus money 2021 tax season likely (in 2022)

What if your check is less than you expected?

The IRS isn’t particularly big on communicating how much money it calculates for your stimulus check. You won’t find that figure in the agency’s online tracking tool, but you will see it in the confirmation letter you’ll receive in the mail. (And here’s why you got the payment size you did.) 

So what happens if you use our stimulus check calculator and notice the numbers seem way off, or the IRS letter quotes an amount you didn’t receive? Start by triple-checking your qualifications to make sure you’re eligible for the total you expect. Remember the IRS is automatically sending plus-up payments and that happens after the agency receives your 2020 tax return. If you had a baby or otherwise added a dependent in 2020, you won’t need to file an amended tax form to claim the supplement.

The IRS could open up claims for missing stimulus money before its Dec. 31 deadline to stop sending checks. If not, you might have to wait a year to claim it — when you file your 2021 taxes in 2022 (even if you’re a nonfiler who isn’t typically required to file taxes).

How does your 2020 tax return affect your payment total?

Taxes were due May 17. So how will the IRS figure out how much it owes you? It will calculate your total (you can also do that here) based on the most recent tax filing it’s processed when tabulating the amount of your stimulus check.

If you know your tax return was already processed, your total will likely be based on your 2020 adjusted gross income, not on your 2019 AGI. That presents complications if the difference between the two years disqualifies you from getting a third stimulus check

On the flip side, if the IRS uses your 2019 taxes and you’re owed more money based on your 2020 AGI and dependents, you could get a plus-up payment. If you got more money than you’re owed, you’ll only need to return it to the IRS in some cases. 

What if the IRS owes you for the first two stimulus checks?

Plus-up payments are going out weekly along with the third round of checks, but they may not be the only money you’re due. For money missing from the first two checks, you need to claim that on your 2020 taxes. We suggest making sure you also know where to find your adjusted gross income. Tax nonfilers may need to be proactive about claiming a new dependent, too.

009-cash-money-third-stimulus-checks-biden-federal-unemployment-1400-300-payments

Millions may wind up getting a smaller stimulus check than they’re actually owed.


Sarah Tew/CNET

What should SSI, SSDI recipients and veterans know?

Veterans receiving VA benefits and people who get SSDI and SSI benefits are now receiving stimulus checks from the IRS and Treasury. Delivery details should now be available in the Get My Payment tool

You might get your stimulus money by direct deposit to existing Direct Express cards if this is how you normally receive benefits, and if you didn’t file taxes in 2019 or 2020. Otherwise, the money could come in the mail (here’s what to look for so you know it’s legit). The SSA says that Social Security beneficiaries like SSI and SSDI groups will not receive an EIP debit card

If you’re a tax nonfiler and you used the IRS’ Non-Filers tool by November 2020 to submit information, you may have already received your check before other Social Security recipients. 


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Read more about rules and exceptions 

Stimulus checks aren’t necessarily a one-size-fits-all situation. Here are guides for:

Could there be a fourth stimulus check this year?

The American Rescue Plan had barely become law in March when lawmakers started pushing for a fourth stimulus check, either in the form of another one-time payment or as recurring payments for the duration of the pandemic. Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and 19 other members of the Senate earlier this spring sent a letter to President Joe Biden urging him to include recurring direct payments in his upcoming stimulus proposals.

Others in Washington, such as Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal, are proposing $1,000 recurring monthly payments to help those who continue to struggle through the pandemic.

Biden has not committed to another round of payments, and White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the administration will look to Congress for a proposal for a fourth payment.

Stimulus examine standing replace: IRS cost schedule, when your plus-up cash will arrive

The $1,400 stimulus checks are still going out, but you might find yours is only a partial payment, or delayed.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Whether you’re waiting for a new stimulus check or a plus-up payment because the IRS still owes you money (calculate your stimulus total here), we have answers that can help you know what to expect about the IRS’ plans for stimulus check delivery going forward, and what could hold up or stop your complete payment. For example, if you’re sure you meet the requirements, but got a smaller amount than expected or feel there’s an issue with your check, we can help explain what the problem might be.

We’ll go over:

Read on for more details. In the meantime, here’s the current discussion on a fourth stimulus check and student loan forgiveness. You might also get more stimulus money from the American Rescue Plan Act through upcoming child tax credit 2021 payments (here’s how much money you can get and who’s an eligible dependent) and savings on health care and insurance. This story was recently updated.

Stimulus plus-up payment: What is it and when yours could arrive

A plus-up payment is a supplement to the stimulus money the iRS already paid out. But if you didn’t get the right amount the first time, the agency is sending automatic pay bumps to correct the error. You might get a plus-up payment if the IRS used your 2019 taxes to calculate your third stimulus check and then finds it underpaid you after processing your 2020 taxes. For example, perhaps you had a lower AGI this time — or added a new dependent.

If you got your stimulus payment via direct deposit, that’s how you’ll get your plus-up money, too. If the IRS doesn’t have your details on file, you may receive a paper check instead.

Plus-up payments will continue on a weekly basis as the IRS processes 2020 tax forms and reevaluates checks. The batch going out this week includes 1 million plus-up payments totaling more than $2 million.

Stimulus check payments so far

Direct deposit Paper checks EIP Card Direct Express Card Plus-up
First payment batch — March 17 90 million ($242 billion) 150,000 ($442 million) Not released Not released Not released
Second payment batch — March 24 17 million ($38 billion) 15 million ($34 billion) 5 million ($11 billion) Not released Not released
Third payment batch, including Social Security — April 3 2 million ($5 billion) 2 million ($5 billion) Not disclosed Up to 30 million to come Not released
Fourth payment batch, including “plus-up” money — April 7 24 million ($33 billion) 1 million ($3 billion) Not disclosed 3.1 million 1 million ($2 million)

This is how the IRS will send your stimulus payment now

If you’re getting your new stimulus check delivered now (and not a plus-up), expect to receive it in the mail (how to track it) as a paper check or EIP debit card. However, if you’re an SSI or SSDI recipient who has a Direct Express benefits card, you should get an electronic transfer. Otherwise, look for a check in the mail, but not an EIP card, according to the SSA. (More details below.)

Note that it could take days between the date the IRS or Treasury processes your stimulus money and when you receive it, especially if your check is arriving through the mail. If you moved recently, you need to tell the IRS and USPS.


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Track your payment online and in the mail like this

The IRS updates its Get My Payment tracker tool for stimulus checks daily. This online app shows the status of your payment, including when a check is scheduled for delivery. You can also use a free tool from the USPS to track your mailed stimulus payment.

The IRS portal also flags if there’s a problem with your payment that you may need to address, but it doesn’t tell you the amount you’ll receive. You’ll see your payment status in the tracker if you receive SSI and SSDI benefits. VA beneficiaries who are veterans and don’t file taxes can check the status of their payments the weekend of April 10 and 11. 

Why all or some of your stimulus money could be delayed

Here’s more information on problems you might encounter with your stimulus check.

Stimulus check delivery start and end dates

Stimulus bill signed into law March 11
First direct deposits made March 12 (provisional), March 17 (official)
First paper checks sent Week of March 15
First EIP cards sent Week of March 22
Last day to get direct deposit March 24, unless you receive a “plus-up” adjustment for 2020 taxes
First Social Security, SSI, SSDI payment sent Weekend of April 3, most arriving April 7
First plus-up payments Weekend of April 3
VA benefits for veteran nonfilers April 14
IRS deadline to finish sending checks Dec. 31, 2021 (mandated by the bill)
Last date to receive a check January 2022 (if mailed checks sent late December)
Final claims for missing stimulus money 2021 tax season likely (in 2022)

What if you’re missing stimulus money from your $1,400 check?

There are several reasons the IRS may owe you stimulus money after it sends out the third round of checks.

For example, the agency may have processed your 2019 tax return before it received 2020 tax forms and you’re entitled to a bigger payment. If this is your situation, the IRS said it will automatically evaluate if you qualify for more money after it receives your 2020 tax return. It will then send you a supplemental payment for the difference between what you originally received and the amount you now qualify for. You don’t need to take any action to receive this supplemental payment, according to the IRS.

If you had a baby or added a dependent in 2020, the IRS said it will also automatically send you a supplement payment once it receives your taxes this year.

But what if a clerical error accidentally left out a new dependent? Or perhaps your payment never arrived or was accidentally garnished? The IRS may provide a way to file for missing stimulus money before the Dec. 31 deadline. If not, you might have to wait a year to claim it, when you file your 2021 taxes in 2022 (even if you’re a nonfiler who isn’t typically required to file taxes).

19-2021-cash-money-stimulus-bill-600-dollars-check-americans-congress-signed-law-direct-deposit-mail

If you don’t get all your stimulus check money right away, you may need to address the issue down the road.


Sarah Tew/CNET

How to report a payment problem, and what not to do

The IRS doesn’t want you to call if you have any issue with the delivery or amount of your stimulus check. So what to do instead? Our guide walks you through how to report stimulus check problems, including checks that never arrive (try filing a payment trace), direct deposit payments that go to the wrong account and other issues.

Social Security, SSDI, SSI and veterans: More to know about your stimulus money

After a weeks-long holdup, the IRS is now making payments for SSDI and SSI recipients and retired railroad workers, many of whom automatically qualify for the third check. The first payments started going out April 3, with the majority of payments made electronically — either through direct deposit or to existing Direct Express cards (PDF) — by April 7, according to the IRS.

For those who receive veterans benefits, the IRS said it’s reviewing data for Veterans Affairs benefit recipients and expects to start making payments by April 14. VA beneficiary payment information will be available in the Get My Payment tool this weekend, the IRS said.

Note that you’ll most likely get the electronic payment transfer if this is how you normally receive benefits, and if you didn’t file taxes in 2019 or 2020. But some in this subset of nonfilers could receive an automatic payment sooner if they got a previous check by using the IRS’ Non-Filers tool, which is now closed. The SSA says this group will not receive an EIP debit card. Here’s our complete guide to stimulus checks for people receiving Social Security benefits.

009-cash-money-third-stimulus-checks-biden-federal-unemployment-1400-300-payments

Millions may wind up getting a smaller check than they’re owed, depending on their 2020 taxes.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Why your 2020 tax return is tied to this stimulus check

Taxes are now due May 17. So how will the IRS figure out how much it owes you? It will calculate your total (you can also do that here) based on the most recent tax filing it’s processed at the time it’s ready to tabulate the amount of your stimulus check.

If you filed your 2020 taxes early and you know your tax return was already processed, your total will likely be based on your 2020 adjusted gross income, not on your 2019 AGI. That presents complications if the difference between the two years disqualifies you from getting a third stimulus check

On the flip side, if the IRS uses your 2019 taxes and you’re owed more money based on your 2020 AGI and dependents, you’ll need to claim the difference at a later date. Note that if you filed your 2020 taxes after you got your stimulus payment, this IRS is now sending the catch-up payments now. (Learn more about some of the stimulus check exceptions and catches here.)

Stimulus money could still arrive through the end of 2021

Although the IRS and Treasury are sending stimulus checks now, the agencies have until Dec. 31 to complete distributing the third payments. That’s good news in the sense they aren’t facing a compressed deadline to send out all the checks, as they did for the second stimulus check in December, which only gave them a 17-day window to get the payments out. 

On the other hand, the nearly nine-month delivery window also means some people may find themselves waiting for their payment, for a variety of reasons. We’ll have to wait and see how the IRS deals with any fringe issues that arise, such as the need to claim missing money. 

Additional information for people in these payment groups

Stimulus checks aren’t necessarily a one-size-fits-all situation. Here are additional guides for:

And here’s everything you need to know about the third stimulus check, how to calculate your stimulus total and every way the stimulus bill can bring you more money.