Stimulus check payments aren’t over yet for everyone.
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.
Stimulus plus-up payments: What you need to know
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
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.
Stimulus check 3: How much money you’ll get
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).
Millions could end up receiving a smaller stimulus check than they’re owed.
Other important information about stimulus checks
Stimulus checks aren’t necessarily a one-size-fits-all situation. Here are guides for: