Will you get a stimulus check 'plus-up'?

Parents Sitting On Floor At Home Playing With Baby Son
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The IRS has previously explained that these plus-up payments are designed to provide "supplemental" support for Americans whose 2020 tax returns qualify them for a new or larger amount of relief.

Think of it as a "booster shot" of stimulus cash.

Whether you’ll get a plus-up payment depends largely on how much you received in your third stimulus payment — if you got one at all.

In mid-March, when the checks first started going out, the IRS would have determined your eligibility for a payment based on the most recent data it had on you. That likely would have been your 2019 tax return.

But if your income dropped last year because of the pandemic and you've recently filed your 2020 taxes, you may now qualify for a bigger stimulus check. The IRS will send you a plus-up to make up the difference.

Individual taxpayers whose returns show adjusted gross income (total income minus some deductions) of up to $75,000 qualify for the full $1,400 stimulus check. The same goes for couples who file jointly and have AGI of as much as $150,000.

How else might you get a stimulus plus-up?

The tax agency says you may also be eligible for a plus-up payment if you:

  • Recently filed a 2020 tax return that includes a new child or dependent.
  • Got married last year and have filed a joint return for the first time — as long as you fall under the income limit of $150,000.
  • Were previously exempt from filing your taxes and instead used a nonfiler tool to claim your first stimulus check last year.
  • Are a veteran receiving disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs and weren’t required to file a tax return for 2019 but have now submitted one for 2020.

The IRS says it will continue sending out stimulus money in weekly batches.

The 730,000 plus-up payments in the latest batch (the seventh so far) represent just a fraction of the 163 million or so stimulus checks that have gone out since March 12. Approximately $384 billion has been distributed directly to Americans in about seven weeks.

What if you need cash but aren’t getting a plus-up?

Young couple looking at finances at kitchen table
WAYHOME studio / Shutterstock

If you’ve already received all the stimulus support you qualify for, but you’re still short on cash, you have some options to free up some funds right now.

  • Cut the cost of your debt. If you've been relying on your credit cards during the pandemic, you've got plenty of company. Slash your credit card debt — and pay it off sooner — by rolling your balances into a debt consolidation loan at a lower interest rate.

  • Make savings your policy. Because so many drivers have been using their cars less frequently during COVID, some auto insurance companies have been offering discounts. If your insurer isn’t cutting you a deal, it's time to find a policy at a better price. You also could save hundreds on homeowners insurance by shopping around for a lower rate.

  • Trade in your mortgage for a cheaper one. If you’re a homeowner and haven't refinanced your loan in the last year, you could be missing out on some truly game-changing savings. An estimated 13 million homeowners still have the potential to save an average $283 a month with a refi, according to mortgage and data technology provider Black Knight.

  • Turn your pennies into profits. Don’t assume your financial well-being is entirely dependent on cutting costs. You can generate extra income in the stock market — and you don’t have to be rich. One popular app helps you invest your "spare change” to grow a diversified portfolio.

About the Author

Sigrid Forberg

Sigrid Forberg

Staff Writer

Sigrid is a staff writer with MoneyWise. A graduate of Carleton University's journalism program, she spent the better part of the last six years writing about business and retail. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, baking and riding her bicycle.

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