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Second stimulus check: how to claim your missing payment

Didn’t get your second stimulus check? You can claim your missing payment as part of your 2020 tax return.

Master Bespoke Shoemaker Scott McKee works at British luxury shoemaker Trickers in Northampton, Britain, January 25, 2021. Picture taken January 25, 2021. REUTERS/Matthew Childs

The first stimulus payment in April 2020 was up to $1,200 per person plus up to $500 per dependent. The second stimulus payment made in late 2020 was up to $600 per person and up to $600 per dependent. If your second stimulus check was a no-show, you can file a Recovery Rebate Credit on your 2020 tax return.

If you're still missing a stimulus payment, you're not alone. Millions of qualified people never got their first or second stimulus checks. It's possible the IRS made an error, that you're missing money for your dependents, that your check was mistakenly garnished or that you're a tax non-filer who needed to take an extra step. However, you can claim your full stimulus check amount as a Recovery Rebate Credit when you file your 2020 tax return.

IRS E-file

The earliest you can file a tax return this year is February 12, a delay from the usual January 15 start, but the IRS has already made its free filing tool available to use.

You can file directly through the IRS if you make under $72,000 per year.

If you’re missing one or both stimulus payments, make sure you fill out this section of the return, which you’ll encounter after you enter personal information like your name, address, and Social Security number.

The rebate credit ties your stimulus money to your tax return. That means you won't get a separate check, but you could get either a larger tax refund or pay a smaller tax bill. If you don't usually file taxes (for instance, if you're on SSI or SSDI, or if you're retired), you'll need to file this year. It is recommend to have your paperwork in order before the IRS starts processing returns on February 12, filing your taxes early and signing up for direct deposit.

The first step to getting your Recovery Rebate Credit is to confirm your payment status online through the IRS. If you see a confusing message or a possible error, you may be a candidate for a rebate or a payment trace.

When will there be a third stimulus check?

A stimulus check of up to $1,400 has been included in new US President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan (ARP), but it may well be over a month before it is approved.

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 authorised 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.

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.