Stimulus checks: Plus-up payments, IRS deadlines, everything more to know – CNET

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If you already got your stimulus check, should you expect a plus-up payment too?


Sarah Tew/CNET

Stimulus check money continues to pour out, and whether you got your $1,400 maximum-per-person payment weeks ago, or you’re still waiting for it to arrive, there may be more money on the way. You can thank the extended tax season for the ongoing stimulus check delivery window, which has made “plus-up” payments possible. These are supplemental checks when the IRS owes you more than it paid out, and we’ll explain much more below, including why you’d get one and how the money should arrive.

In addition, the IRS is still calculating and sending hundreds of thousands of checks to Social Security recipients and SSI beneficiaries, and eligible people who filled in some information gaps the IRS needed to calculate a stimulus check (here’s how to check your stimulus status with the IRS). 

We’ll lay out what to know, 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 stimulus check. This story has been updated.

Stimulus plus-up money will come for months

Nearly 700,000 people who have already received a third stimulus check got a plus-up payment this week, as part of the IRS continuing effort to square up payments based on 2020 tax returns. If the IRS calculated your stimulus amount using older tax information for you, the agency is sending plus-up payments for the difference it owes you, after it receives your  2020 tax return this year — or based on other factors if you don’t usually file.

While the IRS said it is making these catch-up payments automatically, it’s in your best interest to keep track of how much money you should expect this stimulus round, make sure you track your payment and then 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.

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Note that while stimulus plus-up payments are now going out weekly, these payments are just the third check. For <span class="link" section="shortcodeLink"><a href="https://www.cnet.com/personal-finance/claim-missing-stimulus-money-on-your-tax-return-asap-heres-how/">money missing from the first two stimulus checks</a></span>, you need to claim that on your taxes this year. We suggest making sure you also know where to&nbsp;<span class="link" section="shortcodeLink"><a href="https://www.cnet.com/news/agi-stimulus-checks-taxes-ctc-why-this-number-is-the-key-to-everything-and-where-to-find-it/">find your adjusted gross income</a></span>. Tax <span class="link" section="shortcodeLink"><a href="https://www.cnet.com/news/how-nonfilers-can-get-stimulus-checks-including-those-experiencing-homelessness/">nonfilers</a></span> may need to be proactive about claiming a&nbsp;<span class="link" section="shortcodeLink"><a href="https://www.cnet.com/news/dependents-and-stimulus-checks-everything-new-and-different-you-need-to-know-including-amount/">new dependent</a></span>. 

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).

                                <h2><span>Stimulus check payments made to date</span></h2>
                        <div class="chartWrapper">
        <table>
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            <thead>

                                    <tr>



                                                                                    <th>
                                                                        <br></th>



                                                                                    <th>
                                                                        Direct deposit
                                                                </th>



                                                                                    <th>
                                                                        Paper checks
                                                                </th>



                                                                                    <th>
                                                                        EIP Card
                                                                </th>



                                                                                    <th>
                                                                        Direct Express Card
                                                                </th>



                                                                                    <th>
                                                                        Plus-up
                                                                </th>
                                                                                                                                    </tr>

                                                                                                                                                                        </thead>
                                                                                            <tbody readability="2">

                                    <tr readability="2">



                                                                                    <th>
                                                                        <strong>First payment batch -- March 17</strong>
                                                                </th>



                                                                                    <td>
                                                                        90 million ($242 billion)
                                                                </td>



                                                                                    <td>
                                                                        150,000 ($442 million)
                                                                </td>



                                                                                    <td>
                                                                        Not disclosed
                                                                </td>



                                                                                    <td>
                                                                        Not disclosed
                                                                </td>



                                                                                    <td>
                                                                        Not disclosed
                                                                </td>
                                                                                                                                    </tr>


                                    <tr>



                                                                                    <th>
                                                                        <strong>Second payment batch -- March 24</strong>
                                                                </th>



                                                                                    <td>
                                                                        17 million ($38 billion)
                                                                </td>



                                                                                    <td>
                                                                        15 million ($34 billion)
                                                                </td>



                                                                                    <td>
                                                                        5 million ($11 billion)
                                                                </td>



                                                                                    <td>
                                                                        Not disclosed
                                                                </td>



                                                                                    <td>
                                                                        Not disclosed
                                                                </td>
                                                                                                                                    </tr>


                                    <tr>



                                                                                    <th>
                                                                        <strong>Third payment batch, including Social Security -- April 3</strong>
                                                                </th>



                                                                                    <td>
                                                                        2 million ($5 billion)
                                                                </td>



                                                                                    <td>
                                                                        2 million ($5 billion)
                                                                </td>



                                                                                    <td>
                                                                        Not disclosed
                                                                </td>



                                                                                    <td>
                                                                        Not disclosed
                                                                </td>



                                                                                    <td>
                                                                        Not disclosed
                                                                </td>
                                                                                                                                    </tr>


                                    <tr>



                                                                                    <th>
                                                                        <strong>Fourth payment batch, including first plus-up payment -- April 7</strong>
                                                                </th>



                                                                                    <td>
                                                                        24 million ($33 billion)
                                                                </td>



                                                                                    <td>
                                                                        1 million ($3 billion)
                                                                </td>



                                                                                    <td>
                                                                        Not disclosed
                                                                </td>



                                                                                    <td>
                                                                        3.1 million
                                                                </td>



                                                                                    <td>
                                                                        1 million ($2 million)
                                                                </td>
                                                                                                                                    </tr>


                                    <tr>



                                                                                    <th>
                                                                        <strong>Fifth payment batch, including nonfiler veterans -- April 14</strong>
                                                                </th>



                                                                                    <td>
                                                                        1.2 million ($2 billion)
                                                                </td>



                                                                                    <td>
                                                                        800,000 ($1.4 billion)
                                                                </td>



                                                                                    <td>
                                                                        Not disclosed
                                                                </td>



                                                                                    <td>
                                                                        Not disclosed
                                                                </td>



                                                                                    <td>
                                                                        700,000 ($1.2 billion)
                                                                </td>
                                                                                                                                    </tr>


                                    <tr readability="2">



                                                                                    <th>
                                                                        <strong>Sixth payment batch -- April 21</strong>
                                                                </th>



                                                                                    <td>
                                                                        900,000 ($1.5 billion)
                                                                </td>



                                                                                    <td>
                                                                        1.1 million ($1.8 billion)
                                                                </td>



                                                                                    <td>
                                                                        Not disclosed
                                                                </td>



                                                                                    <td>
                                                                        Not disclosed
                                                                </td>



                                                                                    <td>
                                                                        700,000 ($1.2 billion)
                                                                </td>
                                                                                                                                    </tr>

                                                            </tbody>

                                        </table>
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IRS stimulus payment schedule from now until December

While the IRS and Treasury say they’ve sent the bulk of stimulus check payments (at least the initial sums), the text of the March stimulus law gives these agencies until Dec. 31, 2021, to send all the third checks. That buys time to finish processing 2020 taxes, including for people who are owed plus-up payments, 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 your 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.

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<h2>Should you keep tracking your stimulus payment?<br></h2>Knowing the status of your payment is an important part of making sure you know where your full payment stands. Keep an eye out in the&nbsp;<span class="link" data-track="anchorLink"><a href="https://www.cnet.com/personal-finance/no-stimulus-check-yet-track-your-1400-payment-with-this-irs-app-and-check-its-status/" data-component="linkTracker" data-link-tracker-options="{&quot;action&quot;:&quot;link_anchor&quot;}">Get My Payment tracker tool</a></span>&nbsp;for plus-up payments or other information about your payment. The details are updated once a day and the tool can flag if there's a&nbsp;<span class="link" section="shortcodeLink"><a href="https://www.cnet.com/news/your-stimulus-check-hasnt-arrived-heres-what-you-should-and-shouldnt-do/">problem with your payment</a></span>&nbsp;that you may need to address by giving you a message.

You can also use a free tool from the USPS to track your mailed stimulus payment.

Did you get a smaller stimulus check 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 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).

Do you have a stimulus check problem? Start here

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.

Why all or part of your stimulus money didn’t arrive

Also, here’s what to know if the IRS sent a letter confirming it sent your stimulus payment, but the money never arrived. Here’s more information on problems you might encounter with your stimulus check.

                                <h2><span>Stimulus check delivery start and end dates</span></h2>
                        <div class="chartWrapper">
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            <tbody readability="5">

                                    <tr>



                                                                                    <th>
                                                                        First direct deposits made
                                                                </th>



                                                                                    <td>
                                                                        March 17 (official)
                                                                </td>
                                                                                                                                    </tr>


                                    <tr>



                                                                                    <th>
                                                                        First paper checks sent
                                                                </th>



                                                                                    <td>
                                                                        Week of March 15
                                                                </td>
                                                                                                                                    </tr>


                                    <tr>



                                                                                    <th>
                                                                        First EIP cards sent
                                                                </th>



                                                                                    <td>
                                                                        Week of March 22
                                                                </td>
                                                                                                                                    </tr>


                                    <tr readability="3">



                                                                                    <th>
                                                                        First Social Security, SSI, SSDI payment sent
                                                                </th>



                                                                                    <td>
                                                                        Weekend of April 3, most arriving April 7
                                                                </td>
                                                                                                                                    </tr>


                                    <tr>



                                                                                    <th>
                                                                        First plus-up payments
                                                                </th>



                                                                                    <td>
                                                                        Weekend of April 3
                                                                </td>
                                                                                                                                    </tr>


                                    <tr>



                                                                                    <th>
                                                                        VA benefits for veteran nonfilers
                                                                </th>



                                                                                    <td>
                                                                        Week of April 14
                                                                </td>
                                                                                                                                    </tr>


                                    <tr readability="3">



                                                                                    <th>
                                                                        IRS deadline to finish sending checks
                                                                </th>



                                                                                    <td>
                                                                        Dec. 31, 2021 (mandated by the bill)
                                                                </td>
                                                                                                                                    </tr>


                                    <tr readability="2">



                                                                                    <th>
                                                                        Last date to receive a check
                                                                </th>



                                                                                    <td>
                                                                        January 2022 (if mailed checks sent late December)
                                                                </td>
                                                                                                                                    </tr>


                                    <tr readability="2">



                                                                                    <th>
                                                                        Final claims for missing stimulus money
                                                                </th>



                                                                                    <td>
                                                                        2021 tax season likely (in 2022)
                                                                </td>
                                                                                                                                    </tr>

                                                            </tbody>

                                        </table>
    </div>

Yes, your 2020 taxes could make a big difference in your payment total

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 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. 

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

Stimulus check details for veterans, SSI and SSDI recipients

Veterans receiving VA benefits and people who get SSDI and SSI benefits began 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. 

 010-cash-stimulus-child-tax-credit-3600-calculator-cnet-2021-2020-federal-government-money-baby-family-pacifier-sippy
If you had a new baby in 2020 or 2021, you could get additional stimulus money, once the IRS calculates your dependent.


Sarah Tew/CNET

There’s more: Extra rules and exceptions to know

Stimulus checks aren’t necessarily a one-size-fits-all situation. Here are 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 law can bring you more money.

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