Stimulus checks: IRS deadlines, plus-up payments, everything else to know

Stimulus checks: IRS deadlines, plus-up payments, everything else to know

Received your third check? You could qualify for a plus-up stimulus payment, too.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Still waiting for your stimulus check? Since March, the IRS has sent out more than 165 million payments to those who are eligible. But if your check for up to $1,400 hasn’t arrived yet, you may be asking when you could expect your stimulus payment to show up. Here’s what we know about the weekly payment schedule and what could be holding up your payment.

Along with these third checks, the IRS is sending “plus-up” payments each week to those who qualify for the supplemental payment under the American Rescue Plan. That stimulus package passed in March also includes others ways you could receive money this year, such as through the child tax credit and unemployment benefits extended to September.

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. Here’s what we know so far about the IRS portals for the advance credit. Also, here’s how to check on the status of your tax refund. Here’s what we know about a fourth check. This story is updated frequently.

Who is the third round of checks and plus-up stimulus for?

The IRS sent nearly 1 million stimulus payments out this week to those who are eligible. Included in this wave were 500,000 payments to eligible individuals whom the IRS didn’t have information for and who recently filed a tax return. This week’s new batch also included 460,000 plus-up payments, for $800 million more.

What are plus-up stimulus payments? 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 the 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’s automatically sending 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.

The IRS tracker can give you a daily update on the status of your stimulus payment

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

IRS payment 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. This week, that includes 500,000 payments to those the IRS just received a tax return for. 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 people 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)
9th payment batch — May 12 500,000 ($946 million) 460,000 ($854 million) Not disclosed Not disclosed 460,000 ($800 million)

What’s happening with a fourth stimulus check?

The American Rescue Plan had barely become law in March when lawmakers started pushing for a fourth stimulus check, either in the form of another one-time payment or as recurring payments for the duration of the pandemic. Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and 19 other members of the Senate earlier this spring sent a letter to President Joe Biden urging him to include recurring direct payments in his upcoming stimulus proposals.

Others in Washington, such as Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal, are proposing $1,000 recurring monthly payments to help those who continue to struggle through the pandemic.

Biden has not committed to another round of payments, and White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the administration will look to Congress for a proposal for a fourth 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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Stimulus plus-up payments: What you need to know



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The IRS may owe you money for 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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Stimulus check 3: How much money you’ll get



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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 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.

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 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 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.

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