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Stimulus check: Americans getting $3.5 billion in new payments

Small change lying on top of a government check.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Stimulus check 3 is still being distributed in weekly batches — the IRS sent out more than 1.8 million payments totaling more than $3.5 billion between May 19 and May 26. 

These latest two rounds included approximately 900,000 payments sent to individuals for whom the IRS previously did not have enough information to determine stimulus check eligibility, but whose 2020 tax returns have now been processed.

The remaining 900,000 payments were "plus-ups" — supplemental funds distributed to taxpayers who have already received stimulus check 3 but who qualified for more money based on their recently filed tax returns. 

More than $391 billion in stimulus relief has gone out to 167 million individuals and families since the passage of the Biden administration’s American Rescue Plan in early March. 

While the official May 17 tax-filing deadline has passed, the IRS is continuing to process returns and distribute relief checks to eligible Americans, who can claim stimulus funds until Oct. 15

In particular, people who don’t normally submit tax returns — including individuals with little to no income and those who lack a permanent address — are encouraged to file for 2020, especially if they can claim dependents who qualify for stimulus money. 

File to claim additional stimulus credits

If you’ve already filed your taxes and you made less in 2020 than you did in 2019, you may need to amend your return to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit, which makes up the difference in what you would have received with stimulus checks 1 and 2 if eligibility had been based on 2020 income. 

If you haven’t filed your 2020 tax return yet, see the instructions for Line 30 of Form 1040 and Form 1040-SR to determine if you qualify for the credit. 

Another reason to get your tax return done (or amended): The IRS will use the 2020 return to determine eligibility for the 2021 Child Tax Credit advance payment, which begins in July. The Biden administration’s relief plan expanded the child-tax credit for 2021 from $2,000 per child per year to $3,000 for children ages 6–17, and $3,600 for those under age 6. Anyone who qualified for stimulus check 3 will get half of this credit spread out over six months  direct payments continuing through December. 

The amounts for the child-tax credit phases out as income increases. Use this child-tax-credit calculator to see how much you might qualify for. 

Emily Long
Emily Long is a Utah-based freelance writer who covers tech, security, and personal finance. She has strong opinions on what passes for good coffee and would rather be hiking right now.