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Stimulus Check Update: Could Americans Be Getting an Extra $650 Due to Stimulus Checks?

The Motley Fool logo The Motley Fool 2/28/2022 Christy Bieber
Young family smiles while looking through mail. © Getty Images Young family smiles while looking through mail.

In 2021, the American Rescue Plan Act provided a substantial amount of financial relief to Americans struggling due to the impacts of COVID-19.

To ensure that people got the money when it was needed, the stimulus payments were sent out as advances on tax credits. That meant the IRS was vested with depositing money into people's bank accounts during the year. But, for those who didn't receive all the money due, the tax credits could still be claimed when filing 2021 returns.

The 2021 filing season has since begun, and many Americans have already started submitting those returns. Now that the IRS has had time to process more than 35 million of them, the agency has released some data to provide a snapshot into its activities through Feb. 18, 2022.

This data revealed that the average refund issued so far in 2022 is substantially higher than the average refund sent out in 2021. While there are many reasons for this, the fact that millions are claiming unpaid stimulus funds could help explain why people are getting more than $650 extra back from the IRS compared with last year.

Is more stimulus money resulting in larger tax refunds?

According to the IRS data, the average refund issued so far in 2022 is $3,536. This is up from $2,880 in 2021. That means the typical American who has submitted their tax return so far has gotten an extra $656 back.

Of course, this is just an average, so some people may have gotten refunds that were smaller or unchanged while others received thousands more. And there's a very real chance the American Rescue Plan Act could result in many people getting hefty refunds that drive up the overall average amount the IRS sends out.


Video: Will You Owe Taxes on Last Year’s Stimulus Payment? (Money Talks News)

See, the COVID-19 relief bill provided $1,400 stimulus checks to eligible adults and their dependents. It also expanded the existing Child Tax Credit from $2,000 to $3,600 for children under age 6 and $3,000 for older children. While just part of the original Child Tax Credit was refundable, the full amount of the expanded credit is, so it means some people will get back considerably more than they paid in taxes.

People who didn't have their data on file with the IRS because they hadn't sent in recent returns, or individuals who added a dependent during last year, may not have received any of this money in 2021 even though the IRS sent out the entire amount of the stimulus checks and half of the expanded Child Tax Credit. If these individuals have been quick to file their returns to get their hands on this money, this could be a prime explanation for why the average refund is larger this year so far.

Now, things could change as it's possible that people due a refund just happened to send in their returns sooner than those who owe. If that's the case, the big bump up in the average refund sent in the 2022 filing season may not last. But, for now at least, the IRS data shows many Americans are getting more money back from the agency this year than they did just one year ago.

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