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Third stimulus check: Can you apply for the third payment if you have not done it for the previous ones?

Some 8 million people didn’t receive a stimulus check, unaware that they were eligible for one, simply because they didn’t file a tax return or apply.

Some 8 million people didn’t receive a stimulus check, unaware that they were eligible for one simply because they didn’t file a tax return or apply.

The direct stimulus payments, first under the CARES Act and then another authorized in December, are a tax rebate on 2020 income tax that were paid in advance. Eligibility was based on aggregate gross income (AGI) from tax filings in either 2018 or 2019, whichever the IRS had available at the time the measures were passed and the payments should have been sent out automatically.

Herein lies the crux, under the CARES Act certain groups were left out, primarily dependents 17 and older and mixed-status families, but then included in the second round. These and other groups were included in the second round with retroactive payments from the first round. On top of that there were individuals that don’t normally file tax returns like, but not exclusively, college students, low-income families and the homeless that were eligible but were unaware they needed to apply.

The IRS has been working hard to get all of the payments out to those who didn’t receive their payment but some will have to wait until they file their 2020 tax return.

When will there be a third stimulus check?

As of yet there is no third stimulus check, or the official term Economic Impact Payment (EIP), coming anytime soon. Biden’s American Rescue Plan called for a third direct payment, this time for $1400 to top up the payments authorized in December of $600 for a total of $2000. That plan must now work its way through Congress where it will encounter a couple hurdles.

On the Democrat side, a group of 55 House progressives is calling on the White House to push for recurring monthly stimulus payments instead of a one-off payment. How much these checks would be for, they haven’t specified but ballpark guess is $2000 based on past calls for stimulus. They also call for the payments to go to the most in need of the money, a condition set by Senator Joe Manchin too, so the money works to stimulate the economy and not sit in a bank account.

As for the GOP, they have shown interest in the further direct payments bringing the total up to $2000 with a third stimulus check. They would like to pass the measure in a stand-alone bill but that would take away leverage from the Democrats to pass less favorable parts of Biden’s plan, such as raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour or funding for the state and local governments, both measures the Republicans have strongly opposed.

Applying for a third stimulus check

When the measure gets through Congress, the third stimulus payment – or other stimulus measure - will most likely work as it has with past payments and go out automatically, if you have filed your tax return. With the 2020 tax return filing starting soon, you can get your paperwork ready right now using a Free File or another online tool. That way it will go straight to the IRS when the agency begins to collect and process people’s tax returns for the year 2020.

As an added benefit, if you were eligible for the previous stimulus payments and either didn’t receive them or not the full amount due, you can file for a Recovery Rebate Credit. This is a tax credit against what you may owe on your 2020 income tax bill, decreasing what you may owe and if receiving, increasing your tax refund. To check whether you got a payment unbeknownst to you, you can go to the IRS Get My Payment webpage to check.

Doing your taxes may be a little bit more rewarding this year.


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