Stimulus Check Update: More Payments Go Out

by Maurie Backman | Updated July 25, 2021 - First published on April 23, 2021

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$100 bills surround a stimulus check from the U.S. Treasury

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The IRS has been busy making sure stimulus cash goes out to everyone who's eligible for it.

For well over a month now, the IRS has been busy issuing stimulus checks to eligible Americans. Though fewer people were entitled to a stimulus this time around due to lower income cutoffs, most of the people who qualified for an initial stimulus are still eligible this time around. In fact, those stimulus payments have already hit millions of bank accounts. Here's the latest on the payments that have gone out.

A sixth batch is on its way

Since the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan was signed into law, the IRS has been furiously blasting out stimulus payments in batches. This week, the IRS issued a sixth batch of $1,400 checks to reach more recipients. That brings the total number of stimulus payments issued to an impressive 161 million, which represents over $379 billion in actual stimulus funds.

Who's included in the latest round?

This recent batch of stimulus checks covers a lot of people who recently filed a 2020 tax return. Tax returns are normally due on April 15, but the IRS made the decision to delay this year's filing deadline when the American Rescue Plan was released and contained provisions that impacted tax returns, like a tax break on unemployment benefits. As such, tax returns are still trickling in, but for some people, they can mean more stimulus funds.

A lot of people saw their income decline in 2020 compared to 2019. The IRS was initially sending out $1,400 stimulus checks based on 2019 income since that's what it had on file. Now that it's seeing updated information, it's able to issue stimulus checks based on the income filers are showing for 2020. As such, this recent batch payment of stimulus funds includes people who became eligible for a payment based on their 2020 income, or became eligible for a higher payment than they initially received.

The IRS has been issuing catch-up payments known as plus-ups for those who didn't receive a full stimulus based on their 2019 income. With 2020 data in its pocket, the IRS is able to supplement those initial payments so recipients get the full stimulus they're entitled to. In fact, in this latest batch payment, about 700,000 stimulus checks were issued as a plus-up for a total of $1.2 billion.

The latest batch of payments also includes almost 1.1 million paper checks. Those who aren't eligible for direct deposit of their stimulus funds have to wait for a check in the mail, and those have been slower to reach recipients than electronically transferred funds. But it seems like the IRS is doing a good job of sending out physical checks as well.

What to do if you haven't gotten your stimulus

If you're still waiting on a stimulus, you may want to file your 2020 tax return as soon as possible -- even if your income is low enough that you're not required to do so. Submitting that return could spell the difference between getting a stimulus check or not. If you earn $72,000 or less, you're eligible to file your federal tax return for free.

The IRS also has programs to help certain groups complete their tax returns, such as Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, or VITA. VITA is available to those who earn $57,000 or less, or who have disabilities or limited ability to speak English.

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