Brand-new stimulus checks and 'plus-ups'

Closeup woman filling form of Individual Income Tax Return,
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The IRS said Wednesday that it has distributed another 2.2 million direct payments over the last six weeks under the COVID-19 rescue package that Congress passed and President Joe Biden signed way back in March.

The latest stimulus checks had official payment dates through July 21, and all were paid out with help from tax returns the recipients recently filed.

More than 900,000 of these fresh stimulus checks are what the IRS calls "plus-up" payments: bonus money for people who previously got third-round stimulus checks, though not the full $1,400.

If you'd gotten a shrunken payment, it may have been based on your 2019 tax return. If the tax agency now has your 2020 return, and it shows you made less money last year than the year before, you may qualify for a plus-up.

Meanwhile, about 1.3 million of the new payments are going to Americans who hadn't received any stimulus from the latest round because the IRS didn't know how to reach them. Because those people recently filed their taxes, the tax agency got the information it needed to send the money.

Don't usually file taxes? You could miss out

Focused young couple looking at computer screen, holding papers.
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The brand new batch of stimulus payments is worth more than $2.2 billion, and brings the total number from the third round to 171 million — valued at approximately $400 billion.

If you don’t normally file taxes and haven’t yet received any stimulus check from the last round, the IRS urges you to submit a 2020 return. You could receive not only a relief payment but also other benefits, including the new monthly payments for families from this year's expanded child tax credit.

Stimulus payments will continue to go out on a weekly basis this summer, the tax agency says in a news release.

To receive a full $1,400 stimulus check, you need to file a tax return showing adjusted gross income (AGI) — your total income minus some deductions — of $75,000 or less. If you and your spouse file jointly, the AGI threshold is $150,000.

If you're not getting a stimulus check this time

Family of three with baby having quarrel over money at home
Iakov Filimonov / Shutterstock

Most Americans will come up empty-handed from the latest wave of stimulus funds. If you could really use a check but don't get one, you have a number of ways to give yourself a financial boost.

  • Refinance your mortgage. If you’re a homeowner and haven't refinanced during the past year of ultra-low interest rates, you could be losing out on game-changing savings. At current rates, 13.9 million homeowners can save an average $293 a month by refinancing, the mortgage data and technology provider Black Knight recently said.

  • Slash your insurance payments. While you’re reducing the cost of homeownership, look at what you’re paying for homeowners insurance. A little comparison shopping could save you hundreds of dollars next time you have to renew your coverage. The same strategy can help you find a better deal on car insurance.

  • Diminish your debt. Credit cards may have been a life-saver during the pandemic, but their high interest costs could gum up your finances for years. Rolling your balances into a lower-interest debt consolidation loan can help you pay off your debts more quickly and affordably.

  • Get serious about saving. Cancel monthly subscriptions you're not using, resist the urge to have your meals delivered, and go to the grocery store with a list you can stick to. When you shop online, try your luck with a free browser add-on that automatically hunts for better prices and coupons.

  • Grow your pocket change. You don't need a check from the IRS to earn returns in today’s red-hot stock market. A wildly popular app allows you to invest in a diversified portfolio using nothing more than "spare change" from your everyday spending

About the Author

Clayton Jarvis

Clayton Jarvis


Clayton Jarvis is a mortgage reporter at MoneyWise. Prior to joining the MoneyWise team, Clay wrote for and edited a variety of real estate publications, including Canadian Real Estate Wealth, Real Estate Professional, Mortgage Broker News, Canadian Mortgage Professional, and Mortgage Professional America.

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