IRS payments that aren't stimulus checks or tax refunds?
May 7, 2021 8:33 AM   Subscribe

A good friend received a payment from the IRS on May 1. She's already received the three stimulus payments and her tax refund, so she's confused. IRS customer service wasn't super helpful. Any ideas?

A friend of mine is a little bit hippie and she's off in another country as a volunteer pastor. As you might imagine, she doesn't earn a lot of money.

She received her first US IRS stimulus payment ($1200) roughly on time, the second stimulus payment ($600) very belatedly this January, and the third stimulus payment ($1400) on time in April. She also received a small tax refund in April. Then, on May 1 she received another $600 payment from the IRS.

That's one too many payments -- three stimulus checks and a tax refund, sure, but not another check beyond that.

I gave her the IRS customer service number and she called, but the person she reached wouldn't discuss individual bank accounts or specifics with her. The customer service person apparently said something about the poverty line and my friend maybe getting extra money due to that.

There's no children in the picture. My friend is fairly certain all five transactions (three stimulus payments, refund, mystery) came from the normal IRS account info.

My friend, understandably, is very hesitant to spend this windfall if the money will be taken away once the IRS determines it was a mistake. Any advice on how to proceed - particularly the magic code words to talk to the IRS - would be welcome!
posted by librarylis to Law & Government (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: The IRS has a status checking website for the covid relief checks. It tells you the date of the last payment you should have received. That website is here. Then from the final page you can also choose to log into your IRS account and see the dates and amounts of every payment issued to your SSN. That's data straight from the IRS and your friend can check it against what she's actually received.
posted by phunniemee at 8:52 AM on May 7, 2021 [1 favorite]

This happened to me. Apparently I overpaid my taxes last year, and they sent me a fairly substantial refund check, totally out of the blue. I'm a little nervous about it, and I'm sitting on it and not spending it. But maybe they did some kind of review and found that a lot of people overpaid their taxes?
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 9:07 AM on May 7, 2021

Did she claim unemployment insurance benefits at any time last year, and if so, did she have them withhold federal tax?

If your answer to both those questions is yes, that could explain it - part of Biden's Covid relief package involved making unemployment insurance benefits tax-exempt up to a certain point. But because he didn't announce it until after some people had already filed their taxes, the IRS is now going to have to refund those withholdings to some of the people thus affected.

(I am not an accountant and I am not a tax expert - but I am one of the people who will be getting such a refund at some point, I have just been informed. A small one, but still.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:08 AM on May 7, 2021 [5 favorites]

She also received a small tax refund in April.

Was this from the IRS or was it perhaps from a state? Not sure whether "came from the normal IRS account info" answers my question.
posted by JimN2TAW at 9:40 AM on May 7, 2021

Plus up payment?
posted by AugustWest at 11:41 AM on May 7, 2021

Best answer: Does she live in California? California had its own stimulus program in addition to the Federal stimulus. If her income was low enough that she normally qualifies for the California Earned Income Tax Credit she would be eligible for a $600 Golden State Stimulus around the timeframe you describe.
posted by RichardP at 12:09 PM on May 7, 2021 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for the responses, all! We spent a few days chatting through the answers and it seems like RichardP has it and phunniemee provided a major clue as well. My friend would like to pass on her thanks and I would as well. We never would have figured it out without y'all. Thanks again, MetaFilter.
posted by librarylis at 6:58 PM on May 14, 2021

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