Was your Stimulus Payment Less than Expected? Here’s why.

On its website, the IRS listed some common scenarios to help explain why your stimulus check was less than expected.

You did not file a 2019 tax return or the IRS has not processed your 2019 return

The IRS automatically sent payments to taxpayers who filed their 2018 or 2019 tax returns.

The IRS used information from your 2019 tax return, if available. If not, then the IRS used the 2018 return.

So, if the IRS used your 2018 return and you had life changes in 2019, such as a lower income or the birth of a child, that information would not be reflected in your stimulus payment.

Your dependents were not eligible for an additional $500 payment

Only children eligible for the Child Tax Credit qualify for the $500 additional payment per child.

To claim a Child Tax Credit and to get the $500 additional payment, all the following requirements must be met:

  1. You must be related to the child
  2. You must have lived with the child for more than half the year
  3. You must have provided more than 1/2 of the child’s support
  4. The child must be under the age of 17 at the end of the year for the tax return that the IRS based its payment
  5. The child must have a SSN

Divorced or separated parents

Parents who are not married to each other and do not file a joint return cannot both claim their qualifying child as a dependent.

The parent who claimed their child on their 2019 return may have received an additional stimulus payment for their qualifying child.

The parent who did not receive an additional payment can file their 2020 tax return next year and claim the $500 per-child amount on that return if they qualify to claim the child as their qualifying child for 2020.

You were claimed as a dependent on someone else’s return

If you were claimed as a dependent on someone else’s return, you would not have qualified for the $1,200 payment.

Past-due child support was deducted from the payment

The Covid-19 stimulus is offset only by past-due child support. The Bureau of the Fiscal Service would send the taxpayer a notice if an offset occurs.

For taxpayers who file married filing jointly and filed an injured spouse claim with their tax return, half of the total payment will be sent to each spouse. Only the payment of the spouse who owes past-due child support should be offset.

There have been issues where taxpayers who filed a injured spouse claim still saw their payment offset by the other spouse’s past due child support. Apparently the IRS is aware of the issue and is working to resolve it.

The IRS states that “[i]f you filed an injured spouse claim with your return and are impacted by this issue, you do not need to take any action. The injured spouse will receive their unpaid half of the total payment when the issue is resolved. We apologize for the inconvenience this may have caused.”

Garnishments by creditors reduced the payment amount

Stimulus payments are not protected from garnishment from creditors under federal law once the proceeds are deposited into the taxpayer’s bank account.

What to do if the amount of your stimulus payment is incorrect?

First, review the stimulus payment eligibility requirements for yourself and your family members to ensure that you meet the criteria.

Eligible taxpayers who received smaller payments than they were entitled to may qualify to receive an additional amount when they file their 2020 tax returns next year. The IRS will provide further details on its website on any actions such taxpayers may need to take.

1 thought on “Was your Stimulus Payment Less than Expected? Here’s why.”

  1. please help me! I received my support check, but it accidentally went through the laundry. I have photos of the remnants.


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