Stimulus checks: IRS plus-up payments, delivery deadlines, everything more to


If you have your third stimulus check from the IRS has already, could you be due a plus-up payment, too?

Sarah Tew/CNET

Like clockwork, the IRS sent another wave of the third stimulus payments this week, for more than $4.3 billion. But the agency is not done sending the money as part of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan and is scheduling weekly rounds of payments to both those who qualify for the third stimulus check and those who are due a “plus-up” payment if the IRS underestimated their check amount after receiving their 2020 tax return. (In a Wednesday night speech, President Joe Biden talked about what could come with the next two stimulus bills.)

This year, tax season goes a few more weeks, to May 17, and the IRS is processing tax refunds along keeping to it stimulus check payment schedule. Among those hundreds of thousands of stimulus checks are payments to Social Security recipients and SSI beneficiaries, and to eligible people who recently supplied tax information the IRS needed to calculate their stimulus check. (Here’s how to check your stimulus status with the IRS.)

Here’s what to know about the IRS timeline for payments, including how to report a stimulus check problem and when it’s time to file a payment trace. If you have kids, keep an eye out for child tax credit payments for up to $3,600 to start revving up, and find if your state owes you more money. Here’s how a future stimulus plan could bring you more. Also, see how you could get up to $50,000 back with one-time benefits this year. Here’s the latest on student loan debt forgiveness and a fourth check. This story is frequently updated.

Plus-up stimulus payments on a weekly delivery schedule, for months more from the IRS

If the IRS used an older tax return it had on hand when it determined your third payment from the American Rescue Plan, you could be due more money once the IRS receives your 2020 tax return and calculates your third payment again. If this is your situation, you may qualify for a plus-up payment.

The IRS said it will automatically make these plus-up stimulus payments to square up what it owes you, but it’s a good idea to double-check your amount to confirm how much money you should expect this stimulus round, then track your payment and hold onto the relevant IRS letter in case you received less than you believe you are eligible for. We don’t want you leaving money on the table if you’re owed a plus-up payment that — for whatever reason — never arrives.

Last week, the IRS sent 700,000 of these plus-up payments for nearly $1.2 billion to people who had already received their third stimulus check. If your 2020 tax return shows you qualify for a larger payment, the IRS said it will recalculate the amount of your payment and automatically send a plus-up payment for the difference it owes you, after it receives your 2020 tax return — or based on other factors if you don’t usually file.

If your stimulus payment arrived by direct deposit, that’s how you should expect to receive your plus-up money, too. If the IRS doesn’t have your details on file, you may get a paper check instead. (Here’s how you’ll track it in the mail.)

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IRS stimulus payment timeline through December 2021

The majority of the third stimulus check payments have gone out from the IRS and US Treasury, at least based on what the IRS has on hand to determine payment amounts. The March stimulus law, however, gives these federal agencies to Dec. 31, 2021, to send 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 file a 2020 tax extension and other groups, like those 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

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