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Who qualifies for stimulus check ‘plus-up’ payments?

The IRS are still sending out the direct payments, but have announced that some could be eligible for more money after filing their 2020 tax returns.

The IRS are still sending out the direct payments, but have announced that some could be eligible for more money after filing their 2020 tax returns.

On Wednesday the IRS announced that over one million ‘plus-up’ payments had been made, as part of the 25 million stimulus check payments that were distributed this week.

These ‘plus-up’ payments are of varying size and are basically used to amend any previous payments that were insufficient. But these one-off payments can be triggered for a number of different reasons and are usually linked to recent tax filings that alter the recipient’s status.

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What are ‘plus-up’ stimulus check payments?

In a recent press release, the IRS outlined in broad terms the point of ‘plus-up’ stimulus checks, describing them as “ongoing supplemental payments for people who earlier in March received payments based on their 2019 tax returns but are eligible for a new or larger payment based on their recently processed 2020 tax returns.”

The release continues: “These "plus-up" payments could include a situation where a person's income dropped in 2020 compared to 2019, or a person had a new child or dependent on their 2020 tax return, and other situations.”

These additional payments are not limited to the most recent round of stimulus checks, and can be used to provide supplementary cash for any of the three direct payments. For example someone who was above the income threshold for the $1,200 payment distributed last year, but who subsequently lost their job and fell below that threshold, will now receive a retroactive payment.

Who is eligible for a ‘plus-up’ payment?

A significant income decrease that sees your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) fall below the income threshold should result in a ‘plus-up’ payment being issued. This would also apply for married couples who file jointly if their combined AGI was to fall to below $160,000, the upper threshold for the recent $1,400 stimulus check.

If you are unsure whether you or your household’s amended AGI for 2020 will make you eligible for a ‘plus-up’ payment, personal finances advisor Grow has this handy Stimulus Check Calculator.

Another reason why a ‘plus-up’ payment might be issued if for households which have grown during the course of the pandemic. Anyone who gave birth to or adopted children since filing their tax return last year will have an extra dependent to claim. Any new children in the household could trigger a ‘plus-up’ payment worth up to $1,400.

Fortunately there is no complicated process to go through and your ‘plus-up’ payment will arrive automatically once the IRS have sorted through the year’s tax filings.

Janet Holtzblatt, senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, said: “The taxpayer should receive the additional amount automatically,” probably sometime between now and the summer.


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