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Stimulus money, how does a family know the proper amount has been paid?

From neighbor chit-chat:

With the understanding that thresholds of income and children/dependents as filed with one's most current IRS tax filing, will provide a variety of stimulus payment amounts; a question arose about an electronic deposit.

---Relative to the 2 most recent stimulus payments, the following would apply and is the easy math:

Joint filing (married couple), no dependents, upper income level below cut off amount; allowing for a full $4,000 for a couple. Nice and understandable.

The (1st stimulus, CARES ACT) had guidelines that household dependents/children over age 16 received no monies. The last two stimulus have changed the $ amounts and age guidelines.
Our question to one another regarding other family members with children: How do the parents having an electronic deposit know that the math is correct for the total value of the stimulus payment for their family???

Aside from being able to view the total amount deposited in a bank/cu account; does the tax payer/family receive some form of notification as to how the total payment amount is calculated???

Thank you for your time.


  • From what I read, the second economic impact payment (EIP2) guidelines did not change the child age eligibility:
    A qualifying child is a child who meets the following conditions: ...
    The child was under age 17 on December 31, 2019

    This is the same as for the first payment (EIP1):

    Technically taxpayers do receive notification as to how the total payment is calculated, but you won't like the answer.

    The EIP1 and EIP2 were advance payments against a 2020 income tax credit. The 2020 income tax instructions that taxpayers received includes the Recovery Rebate Credit Worksheet . This walks them through the calculations for the credit. Of course one must use 2019 AGI instead of 2020 AGI (line 11) to calculate the advance payments, and don't skip lines 5-10.

    From this worksheet, one should be able to read off the EIPs: line 15 of the worksheet should be the amount calculated for EIP1 and line 18 the amount calculated for EIP2.

    Since EIP3 is an advance of a 2021 tax credit, there will be a similar worksheet in the 2021 tax filing instructions (nine months from now). But it won't be as "easy" to read off the calculation. For 2021, EIP3 may be followed by EIP4 if the former was based on 2019 AGI, the latter on 2020 AGI and AGI dropped. Good luck! May the force be with you.

    Finally, AFAIK, the only official notifications one receives are Notice 1444-B (EIP2) and Notice 1444 (EIP1). These just tell you the amount of the payments, not how they were calculated.
  • Thank you, @msf.

    NOTE: I don't know of anyone who has received the "Notice 1444".

    I help a couple of elderly folks with tax filing, who have very simple tax calculations. They use paper filing, always owe the Fed's a little money and always have a small refund from the state, due to allowed credits. Pretty much a wash of owe and refund money. However, I ran into the stimulus payment section in the Fed. form and the formula section to indicate stimulus payments or not.
    They received the Cares Act, 1st payment ($1,200) via check. But, have not received the 2nd ($600), nor the 3rd ($1,400) payments. As filing has been extended to May 17, I suggested they wait to file; as hopefully, they will receive #2 and #3 checks.
    Fun times for sure to have all of this activity due during filing season and stimulus money floating around.

    Take care,
  • @catch22

    Based on my experience as a certified VITA tax preparer, I wouldn’t recommend waiting to file their returns - this will just delay the receipt of their stimulus money. (If they haven’t gotten the first or second payment it’s likely not coming without additional action.)

    If a taxpayer didn’t get the first or second stimulus payment, they should indicate as such on their tax return and it will be included on their return as a payment, either increasing any refund or decreasing any amount due.

    (I’m sure you already know this but filing by paper will significantly delay the processing of the return. If there is any way of e-filing I would recommend it.)

    The third stimulus payment is a separate matter and the receipt, or lack thereof, is not included on the 2020 tax return.
  • I filed my daughter’s return last week using TurboTax. She worked only part of the year full-time, having just graduated from college, and she had not received either payment #1 or #2. TurboTax computed her refund and added $1800 to the total. It amounts to a decent sum for someone about to start med school. I suspect she’s entitled to payment #3, as well.
  • msf
    edited March 2021
    I agree with @MrRuffles that if one hasn't gotten EIP1 or EIP2 by now, the checks likely aren't coming. The money can be claimed as a Recovery Rebate Credit on one's 2020 tax return.

    Timing on filing is another matter. Generally, file early if one is expecting a refund, and delay filing if one is going to have to pay. (Though one can't extend the payment due date by requesting a filing extension.)

    This simplifies things. It doesn't matter whether you're getting some credits (including the Recovery Rebate Credit). What matters is the bottom line. If, after accounting for all your tax credits you still owe money to the IRS, hold off paying quickly. You too can earn 0.01% on that money in your pocket for an extra month.

    2021 is a different story. Say that your 2019 AGI is $80K (individual), 2020 is $75K, and 2021 is projected to be $80K. Based on the 2019 AGI you would get nothing for EIP3.

    Let's assume the IRS has already processed you for EIP3. So it's too late to rush to file your 2020 return. Not to worry, the IRS will follow up with EIP4 later this year. It will be an incremental payment if you should get more based on your 2020 return than on your 2019 return (EIP3). But to get an EIP4 payment, you must have filed your 2020 return by Aug 15th (three months after the filing deadline this year of May 15th).

    Suppose instead you ask for an extension and don't file your 2020 return until after Aug 15th. Then you won't get any payment based on 2020 income. Not EIP3, not EIP4, and not a Recovery Rebate Credit on your 2021 tax return. That's based on your 2021 AGI. Given the hypothetical AGIs above, you won't see any money.

    So there could still be a reason to file your 2020 tax return in a reasonable amount of time, i.e. don't delay past Aug 15 if your largest possible payment is based on your 2020 AGI.

    (I expect that the vast majority of tax filers won't be in the situation of losing money because of such fine points.)

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