Some people will get a $500 stimulus check from the IRS this summer: Here's why

For many Americans, the first stimulus checks mistakenly excluded $500-per-child credits. Here's who was affected by the IRS error and how to claim the cash if you're entitled to it.


If your first stimulus check was short, you may soon have money coming your way.  

Under the CARES Act, which was signed into law in mid-March, eligible Americans were entitled to receive up to $1,200 per individual and up to $2,400 for married couples. Families were eligible for an additional credit of up to $500 for each child under 17. But many who were entitled to it never received that $500 dependent credit.

On August 5, the IRS started sending out checks to some of those people affected by the error, according to an IRS statement issued Friday. The agency is also reopening its non-filer online portal to get information from other eligible families. 

Find out if you're eligible to receive more cash and how to claim your money. 

Many Social Security recipients were affected

To date, an estimated 160 million stimulus checks have been sent out, according to the Treasury Department. The check amount was based on the adjusted gross income reported on your 2018 or 2019 tax return, whichever you filed last. 

That created a problem for Americans with dependents who don't normally file a tax return. That often includes folks who receive some sort of tax-advantaged federal benefit, such as:

  • Social Security retirement, survivor, or disability benefits
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Railroad retirement benefits 
  • Veterans Affairs disability compensation or pension benefit recipients

Now the IRS is reopening the registration portal so that those people can submit information on their dependents. The IRS non-filer tool will be open to those federal benefit recipients through September 30.

The problem was, the IRS had no way of knowing if non-filing Americans receiving federal benefits had qualifying dependent children, says Tim Gagnon, an associate professor of accounting at Northeastern University. By using information from agencies like Social Security, "the government thought they would have have enough information to give [non-filers receiving federal benefits] the correct amount of money, but they didn't," Gagnon explains. 

This applies to Americans of all ages, Gagnon points out. "Most of the time when people think of Social Security, they think of seniors, and seniors don't always have young dependents. But if you're on Social Security Disability Income (SSDI), you may be young and you may have eligible dependents," he says. 

Use this stimulus check calculator to figure out how much you were eligible to receive under the CARES Act.

Payments are expected by mid-October

People eligible for the dependent stimulus money will need to visit the IRS non-filers tool website and enter information about their children by September 30 to receive the $500 dependent credit. The agency says it expects to issue the "catch-up payments" by mid-October.

Those who receive federal benefits and who previously used the non-filer tool after May 5 to enter information on their eligible children do not have to take any further action, the IRS said in its statement. And, if you meet that criteria, your check may have already arrived or it might be on its way to you. 

Additionally, you don't need to use the non-filer tool if you have, or plan to file, either a 2018 or 2019 return, according to the IRS. 

If you are required to enter this information and you don't register by the September 30 deadline, you'll have to wait until 2021 to claim the $500 dependent credit when you file your 2020 tax return.

Make sure the IRS has your address and banking info

Everyone should make sure the IRS has your current address and up-to-date banking information, Chad Hooper, the national president of the Professional Managers Association (PMA), which represents managers at the Internal Revenue Service, told Grow earlier this month.

In the event that lawmakers reach a deal on a second stimulus check, this information will help the IRS distribute payments as quickly as possible, Hooper explains. Filing your 2019 taxes "is the fastest, most reliable way to ensure the IRS has your most current information in its databases," he adds. 

The fate of a second stimulus check is unclear, and Republicans and Democrats in Congress remain deadlocked.

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