Stimulus check: $2 billion goes out in latest round of payments

(Image credit: Getty Images)

More than 1 million Americans were issued new stimulus checks this week in the latest disbursement of funds provided by the American Rescue Plan. 

The IRS has issued direct payments to eligible taxpayers every Wednesday since mid-March. Batches have included full stimulus checks — up to $1,400 per person — as well as "plus-up" payments for individuals and families who qualify for more money based on their recently processed 2020 tax returns. 

This latest round, which was officially paid out on May 5, included 1.1 million payments totaling $2 billion. More than 585,000 initial stimulus checks went out to people for whom the IRS previously did not have enough information to determine eligibility, and around 570,000 taxpayers received supplemental plus-ups. 

Approximately 600,000 payments were made via direct deposit, while the rest were distributed as paper checks by mail. 

The American Rescue Plan — the Biden administration's stimulus package passed earlier this spring — provided $1,400 per individual and dependent for tax-paying individuals making up to $75,000 ($150,000 for couples filing jointly) and prorated amounts of stimulus money for taxpayers earning up to $80,000 ($160,000 for couples). 

Why (and how) you should file your 2020 tax return

If you haven't yet received stimulus check 3 but believe you're eligible, filing your 2020 tax return will get you in line. The IRS is issuing checks every week as it processes returns. The filing deadline is May 17 for most taxpayers. 

There are several ways to get free support for filing your tax return. Individuals making up to $72,000 are eligible to use an IRS Free File partner, which will walk you through the process and may also submit your state tax forms. And if you make $57,000 or less, you qualify for more substantial free tax preparation help via the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. 

Taxpayers earning more than $72,000 can use the IRS' free fillable forms, which do not provide special guidance, to e-file their returns. 

You can also use your 2020 return to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit for any supplemental funds you may have received with stimulus checks 1 and 2 had your eligibility been based on 2020 income instead of 2019 earnings. 

When you do get your payment, it will be followed by a letter from President Biden notifying you of the amount of your payment and how you received it. It may seem redundant, but don't rip it up or throw it away. It's an official IRS tax notice, and you may need it for next year's tax season or to prove that you deserve more stimulus money than you received. 

Emily Long

Emily Long is a Utah-based freelance writer who covers consumer technology, privacy and personal finance for Tom's Guide. She has been reporting and writing for nearly 10 years, and her work has appeared in Wirecutter, Lifehacker, NBC BETTER and CN Traveler, among others. When she's not working, you can find her trail running, teaching and practicing yoga, or studying for grad school — all fueled by coffee, obviously.