CORONAVIRUS STIMULUS CHECKS

How to claim your stimulus check on 2020 tax return

Didn’t get your second stimulus check? Never fear, you can claim your missing payment as part of your 2020 tax return through Recovery Rebate Credit.

How to claim stimulus check on 2020 tax return
STEFANI REYNOLDS / POOL EFE

The first stimulus checks, sent out in April 2020 were paid out up to $1,200 per person plus up to $500 per dependent. The second stimulus payment made in December 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.

However not everyone can receive their checks first, so some are still waiting. 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 that 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.

How to claim missing stimulus check via 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, it's called Recovery Rebate Credit.

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 the Recovery Rebate Credit 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. Have your paperwork handy and 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 could a third stimulus check be sent out?

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 be over a month before it's passed.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Friday that she aims to pass the package in two weeks, before handing the bill over to the Senate, where the Democrats plan to push through a vote without Republican support. When asked whether the bill would meet the previous forecast deadline of 14 March Pelosi responded "Absolutely...without any question. Before then."

Democrats want to get the bill out before the extended unemployment benefits expire in mid-March. Once the Senate passes the final covid-19 relief bill it will be sent to President Biden to sign into law. He would have 10 days to sign the bill or veto it, but would most likely not waste time and could be expected to sign and pass a bill as soon as the same day.

“I believe the American people are looking right now to their government for help to do our job, to not let them down. So I’m going to act and I’m going to act fast,” Biden said.

Once Biden signs the bill the IRS will start sending out the stimulus payments. The agency now has experience sending out direct payments from the previous two rounds. If everything proceeds apace in Congress avoiding getting bogged down in negotiations, on that timeline Americans could see a third stimulus check hitting their bank accounts sometime between mid-March and early April.

A group of 55 House progressive Democrats is calling on the White House to push for recurring monthly stimulus payments instead of a one-off payment.