Is your stimulus payment correct or are you owed a plus-up payment? Here is how to check

As another round of COVID-19 stimulus payments is deposited into the checking accounts of millions of Americans, some may be getting direct payments they did not realize they are owed.

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In addition to the third round of stimulus payments, the Internal Revenue Service is in the process of sending out “plus payment,” or payments that are aimed at people who received a lower-than-expected COVID-19 stimulus payment.

How do you know if you should be looking for a plus payment? Here’s what we know now.

What is a plus-up payment?

According to the IRS, the plus-up payment is “the first of ongoing supplemental payments for people who earlier in March received payments based on their 2019 tax returns but are eligible for a new or larger payment based on their recently processed 2020 tax returns.”

Who gets one?

The IRS will be assessing tax information to determine who gets the plus-up payments. The agency will be looking at those who have filed their 2020 tax return and may qualify for a larger stimulus payment because their income dropped significantly in 2020.

“These payments could include a situation where a person’s income dropped in 2020 compared to 2019, or a person had a new child or dependent on their 2020 tax return, and other situations,” according to the IRS website.

How can you check to see if you are getting a payment?

First, you need to determine if you are getting a stimulus payment by looking at who qualifies for the payments.

You will get a $1,400 payment per person (including your dependents) if your adjusted gross income is:

  • Less than $75,000 for individual filers
  • Less than $112,500 for those filing as head of household
  • Less than $150,000 for couples filing jointly

You are not eligible for a stimulus payment if:

  • You file as an individual and make more than $80,000
  • You file as head of household and make more than $120,000
  • You file jointly as a couple and make more than $160,000

What if you qualify but did not get the proper amount?

You could be getting a lesser amount in your check if the IRS has not processed your 2020 tax return or if you have not filed one. If the IRS has not processed your 2020 return and used a 2019 return that would reduce your check based on the criteria above, don’t worry. The IRS is reviewing payments made using 2019 returns and will send a plus-up payment automatically if the payment is smaller than it should be. Tax filers do not have to do anything to get those payments.

If you do not normally file a return and have not gotten a payment, then you may need to file a 2020 return to get the payment.

How can I see what I should have gotten?

You can check the status of your third check by using the IRS tool called Get My Payment.

You enter your Social Security number, date of birth, street address and ZIP code, then the tool will give you a message about your payment. Get My Payment will allow you to see if your money was sent or is scheduled to be sent; how it is to be sent (direct deposit, debit card or paper check) and when your money is to be sent.

If Get My Payment cannot give you the information, it will give you an error message. Most of those messages will mean that the IRS does not have the information needed to get your payment to you, or, your payment has not yet been processed. You will have to keep checking back for that information.

What if I have not seen my check or gotten information on it?

According to the IRS, “Some federal benefits recipients may need to file a 2020 tax return, even if they don’t usually file, to provide information the IRS needs to send payments for a qualified dependent. Eligible individuals in this group should file a 2020 tax return to be considered for an additional payment for their qualified dependent as quickly as possible.”

You may be eligible for a check if you “don’t normally file a tax return and don’t receive federal benefits may qualify for these Economic Impact Payments. This includes those experiencing homelessness, the rural poor, and others. Individuals who didn’t get a first or second round Economic Impact Payment or got less than the full amounts may be eligible for the 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit, but they’ll need to file a 2020 tax return.”

The IRS suggests you go to the special section on IRS.gov for help, “Claiming the 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit”, if you aren’t required to file a tax return.