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Does the IRS owe you a plus-up payment? How to check your stimulus total

You want to make sure you received the right amount in your third stimulus check.

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You can calculate your stimulus payment yourself to double-check the amount from the IRS.

Sarah Tew/CNET

If you already have your third stimulus check from the IRS or are still waiting, you'll want to make triple sure you got the right amount. The IRS looks at a number of factors to calculate your payment. Depending on the information the agency has on hand, it might actually owe you a larger stimulus check total -- the IRS is currently sending these out as so-called plus-up payments. Our calculator below can estimate how much money you're really meant to have.

In 2020, did you make less money? Have a baby? Gain a dependent? Any of those things could mean a bigger third stimulus check, especially if the IRS still needs to rebalance your payment. We'll explain the details below. And here's the deal with a possible fourth stimulus check, and how to calculate your child tax credit total for up to $3,600 per kid. This story was recently updated.

Exactly how much stimulus money should you get this time? Calculate now

The IRS looks at a lot of figures to calculate how much your qualify for, including if your adjusted gross income, or AGI, is less than $80,000 (for single taxpayers), $120,000 (as heads of household), or $160,000 (for couples filing jointly) and how many dependents you have and their ages. You do math for you, our calculator takes everything into account to give you an estimate. The calculator does not retain your personal details.

Proposed $1,400 stimulus calculator

Use details from your 2019 or 2020 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

Below we show who will get the full stimulus amount and when you'll completely phase out of receiving a payment. As an individual or couple's income goes up, the size of the partial payment gets smaller. (Here's our first stimulus check calculator and here's the calculator for the $600 second check.)

If you think the check size you receive is in error and doesn't match your below estimate, it's possible you may need to claim the rest of your payment at a later time.

Stimulus check income limits


Full $1,400 per person maximum (based on AGI) Not eligible (based on AGI)
Individual taxpayer Less than $75,000 $80,000 or more
Head of household Less than $112,500 $120,000 or more
Married couple filing jointly Less than $150,000 $160,000 or more

What if your stimulus payment doesn't match the estimate above?

There many reasons your stimulus check might be smaller than you were expecting -- or why you've not received on at all. Maybe you are a veteran who get VA benefits and not received your check yet. Or perhaps your payment was based on your 2019 taxes instead of 2020 (see below for more on this situation.) Checks that are missing altogether can be tracked using a few tools and missing money can be claimed in a few different ways. Read our guide to stimulus check problems for solutions to these and other issues.

What is a plus-up payment?

If you've already received your third stimulus check but the IRS underestimated the size of your payment, you could be due a plus-up payment that will make up the difference between what you received and what you are now eligible to receive. Among the reasons you could qualify for more money is if the IRS used your 2019 tax forms to determine your amount but your income dropped in 2020 compared to 2019 or you added a child or dependent on your 2020 tax return. If this is the case, the IRS will send you a separate payment to cover the difference you qualified for this year.

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Important guidelines to remember about dependents

These new rules for the third stimulus check will affect you if you have dependents. 

  • Each dependent counts for $1,400.
  • Dependents are no longer restricted by age. College students, adult children with disabilities and older adult relatives will now count toward $1,400 each. 
  • Unlike the rules around the first two stimulus checks, you can't receive any money if you exceed the upper income limit, even if you have dependents. 

An extreme example of the last one: a single parent of four who makes $120,000 won't qualify, where a single parent with four dependents who makes $119,000 will still get some amount of money. The amended bill also includes families with mixed citizenship status; that is, where at least one family member is a US citizen.

Expanding qualifications to dependents of any age makes approximately 13.5 million more adult dependents count toward their household total, according to The People's Policy Project.

For more information on stimulus checks, here's what to know about the IRS timeline for sending checks, what parents of 2020 babies should do to recoup missing money from the first two payments, and everything we know so far about a potential fourth stimulus check

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