Stimulus check: More payments on the way

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A fifth wave of stimulus checks provided by the Biden administration's American Rescue Plan is on its way to bank accounts and mailboxes — nearly 2 million payments in total. 

If you're still waiting on stimulus check 3 or are expecting a supplemental, "plus-up" payment, the IRS is processing and distributing payments every Wednesday. The most recent official payment date was Wednesday, April 14. 

This latest round includes more than 320,000 payments to Veterans Affairs (VA) beneficiaries and 72,000 payments to Social Security recipients whose checks were delayed due to bureaucratic red tape. 

The IRS also processed more than 700,000 plus-up payments for taxpayers who received less than they should have. This includes people whose original third stimulus check was calculated using their 2019 return but who are eligible for more relief based on their 2020 income. 

Finally, nearly 850,000 people for whom the IRS previously didn't have enough information but whose 2020 tax returns were recently processed are receiving payments in this wave. 

The bottom line: File your 2020 tax return sooner rather than later. Payments are being sent out as returns are processed, so the quicker yours is submitted, the quicker you'll see your check. 

Tax returns due by May 17

The IRS delayed the filing deadline for most individuals from April 15 to  May 17 and will be processing returns for plus-up payments until August 16. The agency is already facing a backlog, and filing electronically could get your return processed faster than if you send in a paper form. 

If you're expecting a payment but haven't received a check or direct deposit, you can use the IRS Get My Payment app to look up the status. 

How to (possibly) get more stimulus money

If you think you may be eligible for more than you actually received with stimulus checks 1 and 2, you may be able to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit on your 2020 tax return. This credit makes up the difference if you would have qualified for larger payments based on your 2020 income than you did with your 2019 return. 

To claim the credit, you'll need to collect some paperwork and use Line 30 of your Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR. The funds will be sent out as a rebate or applied to your tax balance. If you've already filed your 2020 tax return, you can submit an amended return using Form 1040-X. 

Note that the IRS will not send you this credit automatically — you must claim it on your tax return. 

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.