The IRS announced Monday that it had sent out 130 million stimulus checks and promised that “more are on the way.” Anyone who is still waiting for their check can do a status check at the Get My Payment portal (some users who originally were unable to track their payments had luck with this tip.)
However, in a lengthy release on the agency’s website, the IRS spelled out several reasons why people might have been expecting one number on their check, but ended up with a different amount in their bank account.
What if my stimulus check is for the wrong amount?
The biggest reason is that the IRS was working from old information. That may have happened because either you haven’t filed your 2019 return yet, or you did file but it was not yet processed when the IRS calculated your stimulus payment (in which case the agency would default to using information from your 2018 return).
In that case, changes (such as higher or lower income, or the birth or adoption of a child) would not have been captured. The agency explains: “In many cases, however, these taxpayers may be able to claim an additional amount on the 2020 tax return they file next year. This could include up to an additional $500 for each qualifying child not reflected in their Economic Impact Payment.”
Why didn’t I receive the $500 child credit?
Another reason the amount you received may be different from what you were expecting could be a discrepancy in whether your claimed dependent was in fact eligible for the $500 child credit. To claim the credit, the taxpayer must be related to the child, live with them for more than half the year, and provide at least half their support.
Another note: “Parents who are not married to each other and do not file a joint return cannot both claim their qualifying child as a dependent.” Also, college students generally do not qualify for the additional $500 credit.
Why was my stimulus check reduced?
Another reason your check could be lower than expected? The IRS clarified that past-due child support may have been deducted from a payment, as well as garnishments by creditors.
What can I do if my stimulus check amount is wrong?
The agency recommends everyone keep the copy of the letter they receive from the IRS (sent after the payment arrives). “In many instances, eligible taxpayers who received a smaller-than-expected Economic Impact Payment (EIP) may qualify to receive an additional amount early next year when they file their 2020 federal income tax return,” according to the agency.