Did you get the wrong amount in your stimulus check? Help may be available sooner than you think.
Initially, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) advised that individuals who received the wrong payment amount in their Economic Impact Payment (EIP, or stimulus check) had to wait until 2021 for a fix. And for most taxpayers, that’s still the case.
However, in April of this year, the National Taxpayer Advocate Erin M. Collins advised that she was actively encouraging the IRS to find a way to get updated payments, including the correct amount of child benefits to qualifying individuals this year. There has been some progress.
According to Collins, while the IRS has not agreed to resolve all stimulus check related issues now, it has established procedures for dealing with some specific problems. For now, the IRS has committed to working to help correct missing or incomplete stimulus checks in the following five situations:
- Those individuals who normally do not have to file a tax return, registered for a stimulus check using the Non-Filer Tool, and claimed at least one qualifying child but did not receive the child’s portion of their stimulus checks.
- Those individuals who filed Form 8379, Injured Spouse Allocation (or can complete and return the Form 8379) and did not receive their portion of the stimulus checks. Typically, you are an injured spouse if your share of your tax refund as shown on your joint return was, or is expected to be, applied against your spouse’s past-due federal debts (including student loans), state taxes, or child or spousal support payments. Since the CARES Act made it clear that the only reason a stimulus check might be offset was for past-due child support, many spouses had their share of the stimulus checks yanked.
- Those individuals whose stimulus check was based on a 2018 or 2019 tax return where the IRS adjusted the return for a math error that negatively impacted the original amount of the stimulus check. Examples include errors involving a qualifying child, Adjusted Gross Income (AGI), and filing status. According to Collins, the IRS can work with the taxpayer to resolve the math error and, if appropriate, issue a payment for the additional stimulus check amount.
- Those individuals who were victims of identity theft and, as a result, did not receive a stimulus check or did not receive the correct stimulus amount. The IRS will adjust the stimulus check once the identity theft issue is resolved.
- Those individuals who did not receive a stimulus check because they filed a joint return with a deceased or incarcerated spouse and their stimulus payment was not issued, was returned, or was canceled. The IRS will recalculate the stimulus check and issue it only to the non-deceased/non-incarcerated spouse.
For individuals who fall into those categories, the IRS will begin making direct deposits and mailing checks in the upcoming weeks. If you have already received part of your stimulus check and you qualify for an additional payment, that payment generally will be made in the same manner as before. However, if you previously received your stimulus check on a debit card, the reissued stimulus check will be sent via paper check.
Previously, the IRS did not have a process to resolve these cases. That also meant that there was nothing that the Taxpayer Advocate Service could do. However, the TAS will now accept cases for taxpayers whose stimulus check issues fall within one of the categories described above and who otherwise meet TAS criteria.
The TAS will begin accepting those cases on August 10, 2020.
More information will be issued in the coming weeks, including more specifics about whether you might qualify for help in 2020, or if you will need to wait until they file your 2020 tax return in 2021.
The TAS will also provide additional information about the best way to reach the TAS for assistance. In the meantime, if you have other questions, you can visit the Taxpayer Advocate Service Coronavirus (COVID-19) Tax Updates webpage.
The TAS is in place to protect your rights as a taxpayer and to help you with tax problems you can’t resolve on your own (you can check out the TAS website here).
And one more thing: if you’re looking for information about a second stimulus check, as of today (August 6), there is still no additional stimulus package. However, both Republicans and Democrats have introduced bills that would include another round of $1,200 checks. Keep checking for more information.