The latest round of payments were initiated under President Joe Biden's American Rescue Plan Act, which was signed into law in March. The act authorized payments of up to $1,400 per eligible adult, plus $1,400 per eligible dependent.
Since the legislation was enacted, the IRS says more than 169 million payments have been issued. In all, they're worth nearly $395 billion. The tax agency says it will continue to issue the payments to eligible Americans on a weekly basis.
Here's who should be on the lookout for a check in this latest round of payments.
Headlining the latest round of checks are 1.1 million "plus-up" payments, collectively worth more than $2.5 billion. These payments are adjustment checks for Americans who received less money than they should have, or no money at all, from at least one of the three rounds of federal stimulus payments.
The "plus-up" payments come as the IRS processes 2020 tax returns, which were due on May 17. Each round of stimulus checks had its own eligibility thresholds, for which the IRS relied on a person's most recent tax returns, as far back as 2018. But these prior-year tax returns may not have reflected how the pandemic affected your finances in 2020.
For example, if your income dropped in 2020, you had a new child, or you added a new dependent on your tax return, you may have become eligible for a payment that your 2018 or 2019 returns didn't reflect.
The IRS says it has already distributed 8 million of these "plus-up" payments in 2021 and it will continue to send out more on a weekly basis as it processes tax returns.
The IRS sent out 900,000 checks, worth $1.9 billion, to individuals who recently filed their tax returns and who did not previously have their information on record with the agency.
Filing your federal tax return for 2020 gives you the option to claim stimulus aid in the form of a tax credit called the Recovery Rebate Credit. If you've already filed your taxes and didn't claim the credit, you may need to consider an amendment or talk to a tax professional about your options.
Video by Jason Armesto and Euralis Weekes
The IRS is encouraging people who don't normally file a tax return, including low-income Americans, to file their 2020 taxes in order to claim stimulus money. If you fall below a certain income threshold, you may be eligible to use the IRS' free tax-preparation services.
There are other benefits to filing a 2020 tax return, too. Starting July 15, the IRS will begin sending out payments of up to $300 per child per month as part of a new expanded Child Tax Credit. Additionally, filing a return will help the IRS determine if you are eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit, which was also expanded under the American Rescue Plan Act.
"Tax returns get us the information, so we know the amount of the credit that we are to provide by law under both the CTC and the EITC," IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig said April 13 in testimony at a Senate committee hearing.
As many Americans continue to struggle with the economic downturn caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, some lawmakers have called for more stimulus payments. Biden, however, hasn't expressed support for another round of stimulus payments. Instead, the White House has been touting the president's proposed American Families Plan and American Jobs Plan, which offer other forms of support.
Asked about the prospect of a fourth stimulus check on June 3, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that Biden is "happy to hear from a range of ideas on what would be most effective and what's most important to the economy moving forward ... but he's also proposed what he thinks is going to be the most effective for the short term, for putting people back to work, to getting through this pivotal period of time, and also to making us more competitive over the long term."
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