Don't think that the child tax credit payments going out in just over two weeks are all the IRS is focused on. The tax agency continues to send weekly batches of the third stimulus checks, with more than $6 billion in stimulus payments going out just in June. 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 this year. 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 the extended tax due date, 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.
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 get sent a plus-up payment after your 2020 tax return is processed, the amount of your third payment will no longer show up in 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||March 17|
|First paper checks sent||Week of March 15|
|First EIP cards sent||Week of March 22|
|First Social Security, SSI, SSDI payments 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.
- There was a calculation error and you need to claim an adjustment or wait for a plus-up payment.
- You receive SSDI or SSI benefits or veterans' benefits and your check hasn't shown up.
- Your check is stuck in the mail. (Here's how to track it.)
- You may not receive money for all of your dependents, including a new baby or older adult.
- The IRS based your third stimulus check on your 2019 taxes and you're owed money for your 2020 AGI or dependents.
- You may be a nonfiler who needs to file a 2020 tax return to claim dependents.
- Your stimulus check was deposited in a closed or temporary bank account.
- You moved and the IRS doesn't have your correct mailing address to send a check.
- Your payment may have been garnished by private debt collectors.
- You accidentally threw away the mailed envelope.
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 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 until you file your 2021 taxes in 2022 to claim it -- 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 how to find out 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 familes that don't file taxes 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 nonfilers 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' records so as 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 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.
Don't throw away the IRS letter about your stimulus payment
Hold on to that IRS letter that confirms your stimulus payment, including giving 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).
Other important information about stimulus checks
Stimulus checks aren't necessarily a one-size-fits-all situation. Here are guides for:
- Households with dependents, including new 2020 or 2021 babies.
- People who live outside the US or aren't US citizens.
- People who aren't sure if they're qualified to receive their own stimulus check.
- Older adults and people who are retired.
- People who don't normally pay taxes (tax nonfilers).
- Families with child support situations.
- Families with mixed-status citizenship.