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Did you get the right stimulus check amount? You need to know before tax season begins

If you didn't receive the correct amount of your up-to-$600 per person stimulus payment, you can claim the difference with the IRS. Our calculator can help you estimate the amount you should've received, so you can go from there.

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If you got your second stimulus check already, check to make sure the numbers line up with your situation.

Sarah Tew/CNET

While the deadline is in the rearview mirror for the IRS to send out second stimulus checks for up to $600 per person (over 100 million were sent), it's not done issuing money quite yet. Fortunately, you'll be able to correct any errors, including checks going to temporary accounts instead of to real peoplemissing money for dependents or absent payments for up to 8 million tax nonfilers, when the IRS officially begins processing 2020 taxes on Feb. 12. (The same applies to the first stimulus check, too.)

With the IRS providing a way to claim any missing money when filing your 2020 tax return, it's worth double-checking your estimated total here, to make sure the amount you actually received with your second check lines up with this stimulus calculator, which uses the same formula taken from the December 2020 bill to calculate your total. Note, however, that there may be other qualification factors that the IRS uses to determine your actual sum.

Still, if there's a discrepancy, you might want to investigate the cause. That could mean filing a Recovery Rebate Credit with your taxes, or in some cases, requesting a payment trace -- you'll need information from this letter. If you have a problem, here's how to report your stimulus check issue with the IRS. If you got paid too much money in error, you'll need to return the excess. (P.S. Here's what to know about a third stimulus check, including when it might arrive. Here's how to estimate your next stimulus payment, based on what we know now.) This story has been updated recently.

Calculate the total of your household's '$600' stimulus check

To calculate how much you should get in your second stimulus payment, you'll need to enter:

CNET's stimulus calculator follows the same formula the IRS uses to tabulate your household's stimulus payment. The result should be considered an estimate, not a guarantee of the IRS' final check to you. This calculator tool will not store or share your personal information. 

Calculate your $600 stimulus check total

Use details from your 2019 tax return.

1. Choose your filing status below.

2. What was your adjusted gross income (AGI)?

3. How many qualified dependents did you claim in your taxes?

Calculate

Nonfilers: If you don't typically file taxes, here's what to know and do

The IRS automatically sent the $600 second stimulus checks to recipients, which is a double-sided coin. On the one hand, you weren't required to do anything to receive it, but on the other, there was no way to correct an error.

For tax nonfilers, people who don't normally file a tax return with the IRS, our best suggestion is to take your best guess in the calculator where it asks for your adjusted gross income, taking into account the yearly total of your income. This goes for older adultsSocial Security and SSDI and SSI recipients, certain veterans and railroad retirees.

Many nonfilers will receive the full $600 per person, but the calculation could be a little more complex with the AGI of a spouse or child dependents in your household. If there's an error or you don't get your stimulus check, you will need to file a tax return in 2021 in order to claim your share of the stimulus money in a Recovery Rebate Credit.

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Brush up on what the second stimulus check qualifications are

One interesting change was that the shift from a $1,200 check to a $600 check also disqualifies some households by lowering the income limit. The chart below demonstrates how, as you reach the upper AGI limit, the amount you're owed will decrease. 

$600 second stimulus check income limits


AGI to receive full amount (Both stimulus checks) Second stimulus check upper income limit (AGI) First stimulus check upper income limit (AGI)
Single tax filer Under $75,000 $87,000 $99,000
Head of household Under $112,500 $124,500 $146,000
Married, filing jointly Under $150,00 $174,000 $198,000

Here's our guide for a refresher on all the stimulus check qualifications. Remember, any dependent child under age 17 counts for an additional $600. Also, if you don't qualify for a second stimulus check based on 2019 data but you would qualify based on your 2020 financial situation, you will not receive a second check this year. However, you can get that amount as a credit against your 2020 taxes

If you qualify based on 2019 tax information but will be over the limit in 2020, you should have received a second check and do not need to repay it. Here are situations where you do need to return money to the IRS.

Some people may not qualify for a second stimulus check, even if they received a payment in the first round. If you are over the income limit, a nonresident alien or a dependent 17 years of age or older, you won't qualify for a check. The People's Policy Project think tank estimates 13.5 million adult dependents will be excluded under the requirements, including 7.3 million students, a qualification that may change in the third check. More than 13 million people in mixed-status families were also excluded.

For more information about stimulus checks, here's everything we know about a third stimulus check for possibly $1,400, and how people with payment problems can claim their money with the IRS during tax season 2020.