The IRS began sending its most recent round of $1400 stimulus checks – the third stimulus since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic – in March. By now, this process has mostly been concluded, with upwards of $380 billion in the hands of Americans.
However, as a bonus to the stimulus check, the IRS began to send out additional payments last week, in the form of “plus-up” payments to qualifying taxpayers.
What is a “Plus-Up” Payment?
A “plus-up” payment is an additional payment that the IRS sends to certain classes of people. These checks are supplementary assistance, sent to individuals who already received the main check, but who qualify for additional benefits.
The first round of benefits, sent out from March until the present, have been based on Americans’ 2019 tax returns – indicating their age, marital status, and any qualifying benefits they were receiving at the beginning of 2020. However, many Americans’ circumstances will have changed between then and the present; some will have married and had children, for instance, entitling them to larger payments.
Therefore, the “plus-up” payments have been based on Americans’ just-filed 2020 tax returns. Since the end of April, 5 million of these additional payments have been made, together worth an estimated $11 billion (roughly $2200 apiece). The IRS has stated that it will continue to send these out as additional 2020 tax returns are processed.
How to Get a Plus-Up Payment
Most Americans probably don’t qualify for additional payments from the IRS. However, you might if your status changed during the pandemic – and you haven’t let the IRS know already.
Fortunately, finding out is fairly easy – the IRS lists the conditions for plus-up payments on their website. More conveniently, they have gone out of their way to send money to recipients that qualify, so you might receive a plus-up payment, even if you were not expecting one. The most reliable way to enter the running for one is to file your 2020 tax return, even if you don’t expect to receive anything.
If you qualify, it is unclear when your benefits will arrive. 2020 has been an extremely busy year for the IRS, which already had a backlog of 12 million tax returns at Christmas. However, it has been observed elsewhere that people who e-file their taxes and commit to refunds via direct deposit will get theirs faster than those relying on snail mail.
Trevor Filseth is a current affairs writer for the National Interest.