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Was Your Stimulus Check Too Small? Blame the IRS.

An unfortunate error is delaying full stimulus payments to families in need.

After Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act, the COVID-19 relief bill that dominated the first few months of his presidency, payments started going out to eligible Americans surprisingly quickly. But the now the fairly smooth rollout has hit a snag: an IRS glitch that’s causing only part of folks’ stimulus payments to make it to their accounts.

Here’s what you need to know about the glitch.

What exactly is the glitch causing?

Many couples who are eligible for a stimulus payment have received a payment of just half of what they’re owed. Many of them have taken their understandable concern to the Half Stimulus Missing/Received Status group on Facebook.

The good news is that the smaller-than-expected first payment is due to be augmented by an unexpected second payment that will make up the difference. Still, having payments delayed by technical snafus is a less-than-ideal situation if one that is to be expected when you ask the IRS to do something—provide direct payments to hundreds of millions of Americans—that it wasn’t really set up to do.

Who is affected by the glitch?

The glitch affects married couples where one person has filed an injured spousal claim, form 8379. An injured spouse is one whose tax overpayment would otherwise be used to offset any “legally enforceable past-due federal tax, state income tax, state unemployment compensation debts, child support, or a federal nontax debt, such as a student loan” of the other spouse. By filing the form, the injured spouse can get back all or part of their share of the joint refund.

What can those affected do?

Affected couples should check their individual payment statuses using the Get My Payment tool on the IRS website. It won’t get them their money any faster, but it will let them know when they can expect their second payment, which will most likely arrive in the same manner (e.g. direct deposit or paper check) as the first.