Some people may still be owed money not included in their third stimulus check. Here’s how to find out if you qualify.
If you’ve recently seen a deposit in your bank account from the IRS, you might think there has been a fourth stimulus payment from the federal government. Actually, that’s not the case. It’s really a “plus-up” payment.
Of course, if you’ve never heard of a plus-up payment, and if you haven’t received one, you may be seeing dollar signs and getting excited. But you should probably rein in your excitement. Plenty of people will not be receiving a plus-up stimulus check.
Keep reading, and we’ll explain.
What Is a Plus-Up Payment?
First, to make it clear, this isn’t a fourth stimulus check. A plus-up stimulus check is money you’re still owed from the third stimulus check.
“The stimulus payments have always been a tax credit paid in advance. In other words, the credit is based on the tax year it was issued. Stimulus checks one and two were (for) tax year 2020, and stimulus three is tax year 2021,” says Logan Murray, a certified financial planner and tax preparer based in Tempe, Arizona, and owner of Pocket Project, a financial management planning company.
Murray adds that the original payment had to be based on something concrete to make the advanced payment, and the previous year’s tax return was the most logical thing for the IRS to base it on.
So the IRS tied the stimulus payment to a taxpayer’s adjusted gross income on their tax returns. So a plus-up payment is simply money owed to you if you didn’t get the right amount in the last stimulus payment.
Who Will Get a Plus-Up Payment?
“Some taxpayers will be entitled to plus-up payments when they file their 2020 tax return if their income in 2020 was lower than that in 2019, allowing them to fall into the appropriate eligibility thresholds, or if they added a dependent in 2020,” says Cassandra Kirby, Partner, chief operating officer, chief compliance officer and wealth advisor at Braun-Bostich & Associates in Pittsburgh.
Kirby offers an example of who might get additional stimulus money from a third payment.
“Let’s say a married couple with one child had adjusted gross income of $165,000 in 2019, and because their income was more than $160,000, they are not eligible for any portion of the third payment. However, in 2020, they had another child and their adjusted gross income dropped from $165,000 to $155,000,” she says.
In this case, she says, they would fall within the $150,000 to $160,000 threshold with an additional dependent and would be eligible for $2,800 in stimulus money.
There are other scenarios in which you could receive additional funds from the IRS. For instance, if you got married in 2020 and filed your 2020 taxes jointly this year, there may be a scenario in which you receive a plus-up stimulus check or deposit.
If I Think I’m Owed a Plus-Up Payment, Is There Anything I Should Do?
You can put away the calculator.
“The IRS is evaluating this eligibility for plus-up payments after they process your 2020 return, and you do not have to do anything to receive the payment if you are eligible,” Kirby says.
Will Everyone Receive a Plus-Up Payment?
If you filed a tax extension you may be wondering: Will I get a plus-up payment if I still haven’t filed my 2020 taxes?
Maybe. While the date to file extended taxes is Oct. 15, your 2020 return needs to be filed and processed by Aug. 16 to receive a plus-up payment. So you don’t want to drag your feet on filing your 2020 taxes for too long.
That said, taxpayers who don’t ultimately receive a plus-up payment or the third stimulus check and are owed one can claim the money as a recovery rebate credit in 2022 when they file a 2021 tax return.
I am Due a Plus-Up Stimulus Payment. Why Hasn’t It Arrived?
On April 1, the first plus-up deposits began hitting taxpayers’ bank accounts. If you haven’t received a plus-up deposit, it probably has to do with the timing of when you filed your 2020 tax returns – and with the backlog at the IRS. The agency is catching up on 2020 tax returns and also reportedly working on a backlog of unprocessed 2019 paper tax returns.
Possibly dragging things out even more, if you’re expecting a payment in the mail, the U.S. postal service has also had a lot of delays lately.
So there are some minuses to contend with before you see your plus-up payment, but assuming the IRS owes you money, it should make your way to your bank account or mailbox sooner or later.
Is There a Fourth Stimulus Check?
Right now, your guess is as good as ours. Nobody knows. That said, there are reports of it being discussed in the White House and among Congress. If nothing else, families with children 17 and younger can expect a monthly child tax credit for 2021 starting in July, depending on income parameters. Qualifying families will receive $3,000 to $3,600 for each child, depending on their age. Those families will receive monthly partial payment checks or deposits of between $250 and $300, with the rest of the money coming in 2022. But right now, talk of a fourth stimulus check is just talk.