Americans who missed out on a third-stimulus-check payment in 2021 may be able to claim the money in their tax return this year.
Sent out as part of President Biden’s $1.9tn American Rescue Plan, which was signed into law in March 2021, the third stimulus check saw eligible US taxpayers receive up to $1,400 each, with households getting an additional $1,400 per dependent.
Same initial income thresholds as previous stimulus checks - but lower phase-out limit
As was also the case with the first and second stimulus checks - which were approved in April and December 2020, respectively - the full amount went to individuals on up to $75,000 a year and joint filers with an annual income under $150,000.
However, fewer higher earners were eligible for a smaller payment: individuals with an annual income over $80,000 and joint filers earning anything above a combined $160,000 a year were left out.
This compares to a final phase-out limit of $99,000/$198,000 in the first round of stimulus checks, and $87,000/$174,000 in the second.
Over 170 million third stimulus checks sent out
As of July 2021, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) said it had distributed over 171 third-stimulus-check payments totaling more than $400 billion - and these figures are now likely to rise during tax season in 2022.
That’s because, while eligibility for the third stimulus check was initially based on Americans’ 2019 or 2020 tax returns, the information in taxpayers’ 2021 declarations will now also be used to determine whether they qualify for a payment.
This means that if, for example, a worker’s earnings were too high in 2019 and 2020 but in 2021 they fell below the income threshold, they will now be able to claim the third stimulus check in the tax declaration they submit this year.
The same is also true of families who in 2021 added dependents to their household. Dependents of all ages are eligible for the $1,400 additional credit.
A further group who can use a 2021 tax return to get their third stimulus check is eligible Americans who did not file a return for the 2019 or 2020 tax years and also did not claim a direct payment by using the IRS' online tool for non-filers.
Taxpayers can claim stimulus check with Recovery Rebate Credit
In each of the above cases, taxpayers can claim the third stimulus check they’re owed by filing for a Recovery Rebate Credit in their 2021 tax return.
You’ll want to check any documentation that the IRS sent regarding the EIP3 or “plus-up payments” received. If you lost the letter that the agency sent, through the IRS website you should be able to find the information in your federal tax account. If you try to claim more of the credit than you are due, it could delay processing of your tax return and thus your refund if you have one coming.
More information on claiming a Recovery Rebate Credit
"Your 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit will reduce any tax you owe for 2021 or be included in your tax refund," the IRS says.
Almost time for tax season in the US
Tax season begins in the US at the end of January (the IRS has not confirmed the opening date on which it will be accepting 2021 returns). Americans will have until 18 April 2022 to file their taxes.