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How to claim a missing stimulus check on your 2020 tax return

The Senate will soon vote on the third stimulus check, but it is not too late to get any previous direct payments paid as a Recovery Rebate Credit by the IRS.

The Senate will soon vote on the third stimulus check, but it is not too late to get any previous direct payments paid as a Recovery Rebat Credit by the IRS.

As Congress continues to discuss the future of the third round of stimulus checks, the IRS has confirmed that they have sent out “all legally permitted” payments from the first two rounds of the direct payments.

However this does not mean that every eligible American has received the financial relief that they are entitled to, and it is thought that millions are still without at least one of the payments. This could be due to administrative errors, incorrect filings details being submitted or simply a distribution problem.

But all hope is not lost, anyone who has not yet received a stimulus check that they were eligible for can claim the missing money in the form of a Recovery Rebate Credit. Here’s everything you need to know…

How to claim missing stimulus check money

Both the stimulus check distribution and the administration of the tax filing system are overseen by the IRS, so they offer a relatively easy way to get any missing stimulus checks taken into account when you submit your returns.

Tax season 2021 began on 12 February and the IRS have received huge numbers of early filers, desperate to get their tax affairs in order ahead of the new stimulus checks.

If you want to get a missing stimulus check as a tax refund, simply use the Recovery Rebate Credit section on your return. Most tax software programmes available on the Free File tool will give you all the support you need to get through the process.

Unlike the usual stimulus check the money will not be distributed as a stand-alone payment, and will instead be treated as a tax credit. This means you could either get it added to an existing tax refund or used to decrease the size of your tax bill.

The first step to getting your Recovery Rebate Credit is confirming your payment status online with the IRS' Get My Payment tool.

Filing early could boost your stimulus check entitlement

President Joe Biden hopes to have his $1.9 trillion stimulus bill signed into law before 14 March, at which point the third round of stimulus checks will officially become a reality. It seems like the IRS will base eligibility for the $1,400 payments on the most recent details they have on file when the bill is signed.

Therefore if you have suffered a loss of income since you last filed taxes you should get your tax returns submitted as soon as possible to make sure you get your full entitlement. A lower income may make you eligible for a stimulus check if you weren’t in the past or could boost your entitlement.

This is even more crucial after a late change to the stimulus check requirements lowered the top income limit for eligibility. Individuals earning over $80,000 or couples who earn more than $160,000 will no longer be able to receive any money from the third stimulus check. This could see up to 12 million Americans miss out on the direct payments.


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