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If you’ve got your third stimulus check already, should you expect a plus-up payment too?

Sarah Tew/CNET

With 2 million more stimulus checks going out over the last week, the IRS is now up to 161 million payments made to individuals and families since passage of the American Rescue Plan in March. The IRS is keeping its weekly payment schedule for both new stimulus checks and for “plus-up” payments — additional money the IRS is sending to those it underpaid by calculating payments using older tax return information. We’ll explain more about these underestimated payments below, why you may receive one and how the money could arrive.

With tax season overlapping with the stimulus check timeline, it’s not just these plus-up payments you want to know the status of. The IRS is sending hundreds of thousands of checks to Social Security recipients and SSI beneficiaries through direct deposit and in the mail, and to eligible people who recently supplied tax information the IRS needed to calculate their stimulus check. (Here’s how to check your stimulus status with the IRS.)

We’ll lay out what to know, including how to report a stimulus check problem and when it’s time to file a payment trace. If you have kids, keep an eye out for child tax credit payments for up to $3,600 to start revving up, and find if your state owes you more money. Here’s how a future stimulus plan could bring you more. Also, see how you could get up to $50,000 back with one-time benefits this year. Here’s the latest on student loan debt forgiveness and a fourth check. This story is frequently updated.

Plus-up stimulus payments will keep going out from the IRS for months

If you’ve already received your third stimulus check, but the IRS calculated your payment using an older tax return it had on hand at the time, you may qualify for a plus-up payment. Last week, the IRS sent 700,000 of these plus-up payments for nearly $1.2 billion to people who had already received their third stimulus check. If your 2020 tax return shows you qualify for a larger payment, the IRS said it will recalculate the amount of your payment and automatically send a plus-up payment for the difference it owes you, after it receives your 2020 tax return — or based on other factors if you don’t usually file.

The IRS said it will automatically make these catch-up payments to square up what it owes you, but it’s a good idea to double-check your amount to confirm how much money you should expect this stimulus round, then track your payment and hold onto the relevant IRS letter in case you received less than you believe you are eligible for. We don’t want you leaving money on the table if you’re owed a plus-up payment that, for whatever reason, never arrives.

March stimulus law, however, gives these federal agencies to Dec. 31, 2021, to send 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


First payment batch — March 17

90 million ($242 billion)

150,000 ($442 million)

Not disclosed

Not disclosed

Not disclosed

Second payment batch — March 24

17 million ($38 billion)

15 million ($34 billion)

5 million ($11 billion)

Not disclosed

Not disclosed

Third payment batch, best true penis enlargement pills including Social Security — April 3

2 million ($5 billion)

2 million ($5 billion)

Not disclosed

Not disclosed

Not disclosed

Fourth 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)

Fifth 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)

Sixth payment batch — April 21

900,000 ($1.5 billion)

1.1 million ($1.8 billion)

Not disclosed

Not disclosed

700,000 ($1.2 billion)

Should you track your stimulus payment?

Knowing the status of your payment is an important part of making sure you know where your full payment stands. Keep an eye out in the Get My Payment tracker tool for plus-up payments or other information about your payment. The details are updated once a day and the tool can flag if there’s a problem with your payment that you may need to address by giving you a message.

You can also use a free tool from the USPS to track your mailed stimulus payment.

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Stimulus check 3: How much money you’ll get


Did you receive a smaller amount in your check 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 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).