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Third Stimulus Check Plus Up Payments: What Happens When the IRS Owes You Money?


The IRS based your third stimulus check on your 2019 or 2020 tax return, whichever was on file. But once your 2020 declaration has been processed, it can change the amount due.

Sarah Tew / CNET

The IRS is in the thick of it sending the third stimulus check to millions eligible AmericansMore than 130 million people have already received payment for it up to $ 1,400 per person in their household (track your payment through the IRS, or via USPS if you expect a check by mail). But with the checks arriving in the middle of an already complicated tax season, things can quickly get confusing.

Whether you have your check or are still waiting, you may be wondering: Will your be eligible for the new payment based on your 2019 or 2020 taxes? What if you did not file tax in 2019, or have you 2020 will return(Unless you request an extension, you must submit it to the new deadline of May 17.) What if your circumstances have changed since the last time you submitted an application earned less income in 2020, or if you had a baby

We have the details you need, including who is immediately eligible for a ‘plus-up’ payment from the IRS to correct any changes in incentive money you owe based on your Tax returns 2020, and what happens if the IRS owes you a catch-up fee down the line. Also here are 9 Unusual Facts About Stimulus Control, what we know about one fourth stimulus control until now and Brush up on your qualifications for the Child discount of $ 3,600.) This story has been updated with new information.

How does the IRS handle the third stimulus check calculations when it comes to earnings for both 2019 and 2020?

The Incentive Act for March states that the IRS would determine your total third stimulus payment based on your adjusted gross income, or AGI from your most recent tax return – either your return in 2019 or your 2020, if you filed the latter in time this year for the IRS to determine your payment.

This has several implications. For example, if you earned more in 2020 than in 2019, but the IRS uses your return for 2019 (and gives you more incentive money than you may qualify for), that money does not have to be returned (more below). This assumes you have not filed your 2020 taxes.

And if the agency owes you more money based on taxes for 2020 than in 2019, then you may find yourself waiting for one of the following two things. Either the IRS will automatically send a catch-up or “plus-up” payment between now and December 31, 2021 deadline for sending stimulus checksotherwise you will have to claim the money later.

The IRS is currently accepting tax returns for 2020 via May 17, the new tax day deadlineIf you are expecting a tax refund, includes hat lack of incentive money of the first two stimulus controls, we especially recommend set up a direct deposit with the IRS if you don’t have it yet, so you get your tax refund back much sooner

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This is what happens when the IRS owes you more incentive money

In many cases, the IRS will issue your check before it processes your 2020 tax return. If you filed your tax return and your circumstances changed in 2020 in a way that it would bring you more incentive money in this round – like when you earned less income, or if you had a baby or added one new dependent – you may owe a “plus-up” payment from the IRS.

For people who filed their taxes for 2020 is the IRS is currently issuing additional payments to people who use their third incentive payment in March based on their 2019 tax returns, but qualify for a larger payment based on their recently processed 2020 tax returns – basically making up for the difference in what you owe. These payments have already started for some, with a good portion of it direct deposit updates issued around April 7. Plus-up payments will continue on a weekly basis, the IRS said.

If you owe an additional payment, you shouldn’t file an amended tax return or do anything else to claim it, other than file your 2020 tax return as soon as possible. The IRS should send it automatically once it processes your new return, likely against it direct deposit or by paper check, if you do not have your account information on file.


With tax returns and third-party stimulus checks happening simultaneously, the IRS has its hands full.

Angela Lang / CNET

What happens if my additional payment never arrives?

The IRS has until December 31, 2021 to complete the sending of stimulus check payments, including the catch-up payments for people who still owe stimulus money. But if the automatic adjustment never comes, what should you do?

The first is to make sure you know how much incentive money to expect, using our stimulus calculator as a baselineIf the amount the IRS tells you to expect is very different from it totally, the IRS said it gave you in a letter of confirmation, you should watch out for payment adjustments.

If the extra money never arrives, you may have to file a claim, either later in 2021 (if the IRS opens an adjustment window) or possibly a year from now on your 2021 tax return – just like the current one Credit for chargeback discount in front of missing stimulus check money from the first two rounds of incentive payments.

We’ve contacted the IRS for more information on how long it can take to send all of these additional payments and what to do if your additional payment never arrives. We will update the story as we get more information.

What about if the IRS uses my 2019 tax return, but I made more money in 2020?

If you qualify for the full amount third incentive payment based on your 2019 taxes, but does not qualify based on your 2020 taxes – assuming the IRS used your 2019 return – you will not must refund the IRS for that discrepancy. Here are situations where you would must return money to the IRS


If your circumstances changed in 2020, you may owe more incentive money from the IRS.

Sarah Tew / CNET

What to know if the IRS never processed your 2019 tax return

Due to pandemic-related delays, the IRS continues to work through a backlog of paper tax returns from 2019. At the end of January 2021, there were 6.7 million individual income tax returns for 2019 pending processing, according to the agency. These processing delays can be the result of a number of things, including an error, missing information, or suspected identity theft or fraud. If the IRS contacts you for more information, you should get a letter. Solving the problem then depends on how quickly and accurately you get back to the desk.

However, the new bill states that a third stimulus check is based on your 2019 or 2020 tax return – not your 2018.

The bill says:

Based on the information available to the secretary, based on that information will determine the amount of the advance payment in respect of that person.

If your 2019 tax return is still being processed, the best thing to do now is to do so submit your declaration electronically for 2020 as soon as possible, according to Janet Holtzblatt, a senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center. But if the delay in processing your 2019 tax return is due to an issue that also occurs with your 2020 tax return, your 2020 tax return could be delayed, which can delay your payment, Holtzblatt said.

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What if my third incentive payment never arrives, or if money is missing?

If you qualify for a third stimulus check, but yours never comes along direct deposit paper check EIP card or Direct Express card (for example, if you receive SSI, SSDI or veterans benefits), you probably have to take one more step to claim that money. This happened to millions of people during the first and second round of payment in front of different reasons, including IRS errors, outdated bank information, or addresses and nonfilers who don’t go the extra mile to get the IRS their information.

As with the first and second check, you can likely claim some missing money from the third check that is due to you or your family members during tax season. The next year, 2022. However, the IRS has yet to say whether there will be a possibility instead claim to miss money in 2021The best thing to do right now to make sure your third check arrives is to go to file your tax return as soon as possibleeven if you don’t usually need to submit one.

Learn more about dos and don’ts if you are still waiting for your third stimulus check, and what we know about one so far possible fourth incentive payment

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