The ABCs of Stimulus Checks: What You Need to Know Now

May 21, 2021 by Chevron Federal Credit Union

Did you get your latest stimulus payment yet?

 federal government’s third round of Economic Impact Payments —otherwise known as stimulus checks—hit the mailboxes and savings accounts of many Americans this month. So far, the IRS has sent about 165 million payments totaling $388 billion in the third stimulus rollout, and payments are being issued weekly.

But there are still some people who haven’t received the first or second payments or may not get the third because the IRS doesn’t have their account information, current address or latest tax return. What’s more, some taxpayers may be owed a bonus payment if prior amounts were underestimated.

So, how do you know if you’re receiving everything you should be? Read on for all the key facts you need to know about the status of stimulus so far—and the prospects for more.

How much stimulus has been disbursed?

Congress has authorized three waves of direct payments since the COVID-19 pandemic began last spring. The amounts of each round of stimulus payments vary. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Round one resulted from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act in March 2020 and was worth up to $1,200 per person ($2,400 for married couples), plus another $500 per child under age 17.
  • Round two was authorized by Congress under the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act in December 2020, with payments of as much as $600 per person and $600 per child.
  • Round three is the latest wave of payments, approved as part of the American Rescue Plan Act in March 2021, amounting to $1,400 per person ($2,800 for married couples), and $1,400 for each dependent no matter their age. (This includes college students and relatives who are claimed as dependents).

Who qualifies for stimulus?

Adjusted gross income, tax filing status and family size determine whether you qualify and for how much. Here’s how it works:

For rounds one and two, the total payment amount phased out by $5 per $100 of income
above these thresholds:

  • $75,000 singles
  • $112,500 heads of household
  • $150,000 married filing jointly

For round three, total payment phases out between these income levels:

  • $75,000-$80,000 singles
  • $112,500-$120,000 heads of household
  • $150,000-$160,000 married filing jointly

It’s also important to know that the third round is based on income information from your 2019 tax return—unless you’ve already filed your 2020 return. If your 2020 return is filed and processed after the IRS sends you a stimulus check, you’ll get a second payment (see more on this in the next section) for the difference between what your payment should have been – using information from the more recent return. Note: The tax filing deadline was pushed back this year to May 17, or Oct. 15 for those who sought an automatic extension.

How can I check on my stimulus status?

You can check the status of your third stimulus payment—including when and how the payment will be delivered (by direct deposit, check or debit card)—by using the IRS’ Get My Payment tool.

Note: The first and second stimulus payments no longer appear in Get My Payment, according to the IRS. To find the amounts of these payments,
view your online tax account . Or, check the letters you should have received by mail from the IRS describing both payments.

It’s also a good idea to calculate how much stimulus you qualify for to double-check the amount the IRS says it owes you. If the IRS underestimated your third stimulus payment because it used your previous year’s tax return, for example, you may now be due what’s called a “plus-up payment.”

Once your 2020 return is processed, the agency will automatically recalculate what you’re due based on the more recent information you filed. Then, it will issue a supplemental payment to make up the difference if your stimulus check was less than it should have been. These extra payments will continue to be sent out each week. But your 2020 return must be filed and processed by the IRS before Aug. 16, 2021 in order to receive a plus-up payment. (That’s the “
Additional Payment Determination Date ” of 90 days after the tax filing deadline, as described in the American Rescue Plan Act).

How do the stimulus payments affect my taxes?

Stimulus payments are not considered taxable income.

Didn’t get an earlier, round one or round two stimulus payment despite being eligible? Or received less than the maximum amount? If you haven’t yet filed your 2020 tax return, you may be able to recoup what you’re owed by claiming the
 Recovery Rebate Credit.

And if you don’t receive the third payment this year, you may be eligible to claim the 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit when you file your 2021 tax return next year in 2022.

Could a fourth round be on the way?

Congress authorized three waves of direct financial aid since the COVID-19 pandemic began in spring 2020. But while the public and some members of Congress say they support ongoing stimulus payments this year, neither chamber has committed to a fourth round at this time.

To stay on top of the latest stimulus information, check the
 IRS Economic Impact Payments site. Questions and answers about the third payment also are updated frequently. And consult with your tax advisor regarding your individual tax situation.


From everyday finance to life’s big money moments, it’s better when you belong.