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Stimulus check: IRS plus-up payment status, schedule deadline update and more to know

A new batch of stimulus checks is arriving this week. Here's how to check your payment delivery status with the IRS and if you're due a "plus-up" payment as part of the American Rescue Plan.

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Do you already have your third check? You may be eligible for a plus-up stimulus payment, too.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The IRS is sending another batch of stimulus check payments this week, for more than $2 billion. This new wave includes nearly $1 billion worth of "plus-up" payments. Know that IRS is not finished sending this third round of checks, if you're waiting for your money still. Since the American Rescue Plan passed in March, the IRS has made more than 164 million payments, for $386 billion. The IRS is keeping to this weekly payment schedule -- as direct deposits to banks or paper checks in the mail -- for those who qualify for a payment. And this third check may not be all you could get from the IRS.

You may also be eligible for a "plus-up" payment -- along with the check up to $,1400 -- if the IRS underestimated your dollar amount by using an older tax return when it calculated your payment. Once you receive your payment, look for a letter signed by President Joe Biden with information on your third check. See below for why you want to hold on to this confirmation letter. (You may still be waiting for your tax refund, too. Here's how to check on that using the IRS tracker.) Included in the payments the IRS has cued up are checks for those who receive SSI and SSDI benefits and for nonfilers -- people who don't normally file a tax return.

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, watch for child tax credit payments for up to $3,600 to start this summer, and how to claim up to $16,000 for child care expenses. Also, here's how to check on the status of your tax refund. Here's how to see if the IRS has a tax refund you need to claim and what we know about a fourth check. This story is frequently updated.

Plus-up stimulus payments going out each week with third round of checks

Did you already get the third stimulus check you qualified for? The IRS may owe you a plus-up payment too. The IRS sent 570,000 of these supplemental payments this week. Depending on which year's tax form the IRS used when it did the math on your third payment, The IRS may have calculated the amount of your payment using an older tax form instead of your 2020 filing. If this is your situation, once the IRS receives your 2020 tax return and calculates your third payment again, under the American Rescue Plan, you could be due more money based on information from your current filing -- or on other factors if you don't usually file.

The IRS said it will automatically send these plus-up stimulus payments if it needs to square up the amount it owes you, but to double-check the math, you may want to confirm how much money you should expect this stimulus round, and then track your payment.

IRS stimulus check timeline through December 2021

Most of the third stimulus check payments have gone out from the IRS and US Department of the Treasury based on what 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 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


Direct deposit Paper checks EIP Card Direct Express Card Plus-up
1st payment batch -- March 17 90 million ($242 billion) 150,000 ($442 million) Not disclosed Not disclosed Not disclosed
2nd payment batch -- March 24 17 million ($38 billion) 15 million ($34 billion) 5 million ($11 billion) Not disclosed Not disclosed
3rd payment batch, including Social Security -- April 3 2 million ($5 billion) 2 million ($5 billion) Not disclosed Not disclosed Not disclosed
4th payment batch, including first plus-up payment -- April 7 24 million ($33 billion) 1 million ($3 billion) Not disclosed 3.1 million 1 million ($2 million)
5th payment batch, including nonfiler veterans -- April 14 1.2 million ($2 billion) 800,000 ($1.4 billion) Not disclosed Not disclosed 700,000 ($1.2 billion)
6th payment batch -- April 21 900,000 ($1.5 billion) 1.1 million ($1.8 billion) Not disclosed Not disclosed 700,000 ($1.2 billion)
7th payment batch -- April 28 1.1 million ($2.5 billion) 850,000 ($1.8 billion) Not disclosed Not disclosed 730,000 ($1.3 billion)
8th payment batch -- May 5 600,000 ($1.1 billion) 500,000 ($900 million) Not disclosed Not disclosed 570,000 ($1 billion)

Use the IRS tracker to get an update on the status of your stimulus check

Knowing the status of your payment is an important part of making sure you know where your full payment stands. With the IRS Get My Payment tracker tool, you can get a daily update on the status of your payment. The online app can also alert you with a message if there's a problem with your payment that you may need to address.

It can't, however, give up an update on your plus-up payment status from the IRS.

If you expect your payment is coming in the mail, you use a free tool from the US Postal Service to track your mailed stimulus payment.

Keep that Biden stimulus letter from the IRS

Hold on to that IRS letter signed by Biden that confirms your stimulus payment, including 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.

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The IRS could owe you money from the first and second 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. You have until Tax Day to do that, which in 2021 is May 17. We suggest making sure you also know where to find your adjusted gross income. Tax nonfilers may need to be proactive about claiming a new dependent, too.

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What if you have a problem with your stimulus payment? Start here to see an update on its status

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 arrived (try filing a payment trace), direct deposit payments that go to the wrong account and other issues.

Did you get less money than you expected in your check?

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).

Why your stimulus money may not have arrived

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.

Stimulus check delivery start and end dates

First direct deposits made March 17 (official)
First paper checks sent Week of March 15
First EIP cards sent Week of March 22
First Social Security, SSI, SSDI payment 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)

Your 2020 tax return really does make a big difference in your payment total

Taxes are 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. 

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Millions may wind up getting a smaller check than they're owed, depending on their 2020 taxes.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Stimulus check details for Social Security SSI and SSDI recipients and for veterans

Veterans receiving VA benefits and people who get SSDI and SSI benefits are now 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. 

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If you had a new baby in 2020 or 2021, you could get additional stimulus money.

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.