Many companies featured on Money advertise with us. Opinions are our own, but compensation and
in-depth research may determine where and how companies appear. Learn more about how we make money.

Published: Apr 08, 2021 5 min read
Woman holding a stimulus check with the word supplement printed on it
Money; Shutterstock

Like a friend completing a lingering Venmo request, the government is gradually settling up with Americans it owes money from the last round of coronavirus stimulus checks.

In a Wednesday news release, the IRS confirmed that it sent out over 1 million supplemental payments to people whose 2020 tax returns qualified them for additional funds this week. These so-called "plus-up" payments total more than $2 billion, meaning the average deposit was roughly $2,000.

The supplemental payments are not a fourth stimulus check. They're actually part of the third set of Economic Impact Payments (EIPs) — the $1,400-per-person ones passed in the American Rescue Plan in March.

In order to quickly distribute these payments, the IRS automatically calculated people's third stimulus checks using data from their 2019 or 2020 taxes (whichever were filed most recently). This allowed the government to deliver EIPs relatively fast, but it also meant that tons of taxpayers were issued payments based on outdated information. If your income level dropped or your family size changed, for example, and the IRS didn't know about it yet, you might not have received the correct amount of aid.

With the first and second checks, people just had to wait until they filed their 2020 taxes in order to claim missing stimulus money. But for this third round, the American Rescue Plan specifically included a workaround.

The law set up an "additional payment determination date" that was supposed to fall either 90 days after the tax filing deadline or on Sept. 1, whichever came first. However, it now appears to be a rolling situation. The first batch of supplemental payments went out last week, and the agency said Wednesday that they "will continue on a weekly basis going forward as the IRS continues processing tax returns from 2020 and 2019."

That's right: Not only is the IRS giving people more money, but it's seemingly also doing so weeks ahead of schedule.

"We are sending these payments to eligible persons as soon as we can, by direct deposit where possible," IRS spokesman Clay Sanford says.

Third stimulus check delivery update

In the past month or so, the IRS has sent Americans about 156 million EIPs worth about $372 billion. Most of the $1,400 payments have gone out via direct deposit to people's bank accounts, though some are being mailed as paper checks and debit cards.

The IRS is issuing the third stimulus check in batches. The first batch went out March 12, the second on March 19, and the third March 26.

The most recent batch is the fourth, which started processing on April 2. It largely targeted Social Security beneficiaries without 2019, 2020 or Non-Filers tax data on file with the IRS. It included Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) beneficiaries.

Next up are Veterans Affairs (VA) beneficiaries who don't typically file tax returns. This batch of payments should drop on April 14.

Still waiting on your third stimulus check? You can see the status of your payment here.

What to do if your third stimulus check was wrong

The IRS didn't answer Money's questions about what will happen with the additional payment determination date mentioned in the law. But if your third stimulus check was too small because it was based on your 2019 tax data, you should file your 2020 taxes to get in line for the extra money. The federal filing deadline is May 17.

This also isn't your last chance to fix the amount of your third stimulus check. If you qualify for more aid based on your 2021 taxes — because, say, your income drops or you have a baby by the end of the year — you can claim the Recovery Rebate Credit next spring.

As a reminder, if you're in the opposite situation, and you received a bigger third stimulus check than you should have, the IRS isn't expecting the funds back.

But if you think you're owed more money based on your 2020 tax return, your full stimulus check may be coming sooner than you think.

More from Money:

How Much Should You Save For Retirement?

How to Get a Personal Loan

How Much House Can You Afford?