January 19, 2021
Some people will receive an interest payment from the IRS in 2020. See if you'll get one

Some people will receive an interest check from the IRS in 2020. See if you’ll get one


The IRS is sending out more checks this year.

Angela Lang/CNET

If you filed your taxes after April 15, there might be more money coming your way from the IRS in the form of an interest check. Tax Day was July 15 due to the tax agency moving the filing due date in response to theCOVID-19 outbreak. And that was just one of several unconventional policy changes the federal government undertook to help struggling Americans during the pandemic. It also issued stimulus checks, which were sent to qualified taxpayers back in April. (If you haven’t received one yet, check out our guide on how to track your stimulus check.) 

President Donald Trump signed four executive actions on Saturday to give additional relief, including one for a payroll tax holiday and another for an extra $400 per week of unemployment benefits (a potential extension — at a lower amount — of the $600 provided in the CARES Act, which expired July 31). Democrats and Republicans have been in negotiations over additional relief included in the HEALS Act, introduced in late July, which would include a second round of stimulus checks

But the stimulus payments are wholly separate from tax refunds, millions of which are still being processed by the IRS. The 2020 tax deadline extension, which provided all taxpayers with more time to fill out paperwork, calculate refunds and scrape together payments, will also result in some taxpayers getting a few more dollars from the government. Read on to find out if you can expect to receive a second tax refund payout from the IRS — and when it might show up in your bank account or mailbox. 

Why is the IRS sending a second check to some households?

Every year, the IRS pays interest on refunds that take extra time to process, with interest accruing from April 15 until whenever the agency cut your check (or dropped your direct deposit). If you haven’t yet received your refund check, you’re not alone: The IRS said back in June that it had a backlog of 4.7 million returns

This year, the interest accrual period began on April 15, as usual — even if you didn’t file until July 15. So, in effect, there was a modest but real advantage to filing later this year. Couple that with the IRS backlog, and it means more people than usual will get a tax interest payment from the IRS this year. 

Are these payments from the IRS different from the stimulus payments?

Yes. The CARES Act provided a one-time stimulus payment to eligible US residents, designed to bring financial relief to the millions of people impacted economically by the pandemic. It’s a bit confusing — because the stimulus checks were issued by the IRS, and based on a taxpayer’s individual’s 2019 adjusted gross income. But they’re totally separate and different from this year’s tax refunds and tax interest payments.

Who will receive a tax interest payment? 

Taxpayers eligible for a refund — who didn’t receive it by April 15 — will accumulate some amount of interest. The sum of that interest may be sent out as a second check or direct deposit. 

How much will I get? 

As usual, the IRS will pay 5% annual interest, compounded daily through June 30. On July 1, the interest rate decreased to 3%. For every $1,000 due back to you, you can expect to collect about 14 cents in interest per day between April 15 and June 30 and 8 cents a day thereafter.  

When will I get my tax interest payment? 

The IRS says that tax interest payments could come in a second check or direct deposit — though they could also be added into a forthcoming refund. In an email to CNET, the IRS said: “The exact timing is yet to be determined, but it will be later this summer. “

Is there a catch? 

There’s always a catch. 

“The interest is taxable,” said Pamela Lucina, chief fiduciary officer and head of the trust and advisory practice at Northern Trust Wealth Management. “This means you will receive a 1099-INT for 2019 and will pay taxes on it when you file your 2020 return.”

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