Explained: How Do “Plus-Up” Stimulus Payments Work?
These additional payments are meant for those who incorrectly got a lower amount due to a change in their tax income from 2019 to 2020.
President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan in early March, which among many other provisions distributed $1,400 stimulus checks, officially known as “Economic Impact Payments,” to most Americans. It’s the third major rescue/stimulus package to pass since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, and the first under the Biden presidency.
As of earlier this week, 25 million more stimulus checks had gone out, bringing the total from the Rescue Plan to 156 million payments, worth $372 billion. The majority of the distributions have been delivered via direct deposit.
There’s also something included in the stimulus called “plus-up” payments. What are those, exactly?
Essentially, the plus-up checks are payments for people whose economic picture changed between 2019 and 2020 and are now eligible for larger payments.
“This batch includes 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,” the official IRS website says, of the payments that were processed in the later part of March. “These ‘plus-up’ 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.”
Those payments, as well as other ones “for people for whom the IRS previously did not have information to issue a payment but who recently filed a tax return and qualify for an Economic Impact Payment,” will continue to roll out on a weekly basis, as the government continues processing tax returns, the IRS said.
The first two rounds of stimulus were both distributed in 2020, and relied on tax returns from 2019, while the American Rescue Plan checks rolled out during tax season in 2021. The government announced last month that it was pushing back the filing deadline from the traditional date of April 15, following a letter from members of Congress pushing for such a change.
An article in CBS News recently looked at plus-up payments, and explained why they might not be as large as some people were expecting. That article added that “about 25 million payments, worth $36 billion, were distributed with an official payment date of April 7, although only about 1 million of those represent ‘plus-up’ payments.”
“The IRS is continuing to work on getting stimulus checks to Veterans Affairs beneficiaries. People who receive VA benefits and do not typically file tax returns could get their payments by mid-April, the IRS estimates,” the CNBC article said of the checks.
Those unclear on when their checks will arrive can visit the IRS’ Get My Payment page.
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.