Stimulus Check Update: The IRS Has Sent Out Billions Since January 24

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  • The IRS has begun distributing tax refund checks.
  • It has sent out 4 million refunds totaling $10 billion.
  • Those who are owed stimulus payments can claim them as part of their tax refund.

Will you get more stimulus money from the IRS this year?

On Feb. 14, 2022, the IRS issued a news release indicating it had created a "special new page," providing filing alerts for the 2021 tax season. The tax filing season for the prior tax year began on Jan. 24, 2022 and tax returns are due by April 18.

A big part of the focus of the new IRS page relates to unclaimed stimulus money. The IRS has an entire section detailing what taxpayers must do in order to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit. This is the official name for the $1,400 stimulus checks made available to eligible individuals and dependents by the American Rescue Plan Act. It also provides information on the payments of the expanded Child Tax Credit, which was also authorized by the same Act and which provides payments of up to $3,600 per child.

In its news release related to the special page it created, the IRS also indicated it had already sent out billions of dollars in refunds just in the two weeks since the tax filing season opened for the year. Although the agency didn't provide specifics, it is very likely that some of this money it sent out included unpaid stimulus funds for those who didn't receive the full amount due last year.

The IRS has already mailed out billions -- are you entitled to a cut?

According to the IRS, the agency has sent out a total of 4 million tax refunds already since Jan. 24. This likely included mostly returns directly deposited into taxpayer bank accounts, as direct deposit is the fastest way to obtain a tax refund. In fact, most people who e-file returns and request direct deposit will receive their payment within 21 days while mailed returns or those requiring paper checks for a refund could take six or more weeks to process.

According to the IRS, the total amount of refunds that have been sent already are worth close to $10 billion. Now, some of this is standard refunds that people receive every year when they file their taxes. However, anyone who did not receive all of their stimulus money last year can claim it by filing a 2021 return as soon as possible. And since the stimulus payments can be worth thousands, those who missed out on getting the money sent over the course of the year will likely receive much larger refunds than normal.

Taxpayers who may be entitled to a big refund thanks to the expanded Child Tax Credit and the Recovery Rebate Credit include:

  • Those who hadn't filed a recent return, since the IRS may not have had their information to distribute payments during the year.
  • Those who saw their incomes decline substantially but who had previously exceeded the income limits for the stimulus check or Child Tax Credit.
  • Anyone who added a dependent in 2021, because the IRS wouldn't have known to send the stimulus check or Child Tax Credit for the new dependent.

Many of the 4 million taxpayers who submitted their returns and received their refunds already may have been among this group. And millions more taxpayers who submit returns in the coming weeks will likely qualify as well. If you suspect you may be one of them, it's a good idea to get your forms completed and sent ASAP so you can be included among the next batch of refunds the IRS issues.

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