Tax season has arrived, and if you never got a first or second stimulus check or were missing any money for you or your dependents, it’s finally time to claim that payment as a Recovery Rebate Credit on your 2020 return. The earlier you file, the better: Not only will your missing stimulus money arrive sooner, as either a larger tax refund or a smaller tax bill, but signing up for direct deposit could also speed up how fast you get a third stimulus check, which Congress is aiming to approve by mid-March.
Millions of people who were eligible to receive a first or second stimulus check never got that money for lots of reasons, including IRS errors, accidental garnishment, and people who were tax nonfilers (like those on SSI or SSDI) not being aware they needed to take a necessary extra step to get their funds. Filing for Recovery Rebate Credit on your taxes is the best way to claim the money you are owed. However, you should know that in certain cases, the IRS could garnish some or all of your refund to cover outstanding debts. (We’ve got more information about what could happen if a third check arrives during tax season, and potential pitfalls to avoid.)
Below, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about how to start the Recovery Rebate Credit claim process (though there could be additional steps you need to take if you’re filing a tax extension this year). We’ve also got all of the information about how much money you could get in a third stimulus check, and when the third check might arrive.
How do I file for a Recovery Rebate Credit on my taxes to claim missing stimulus money?
If you belong to one of the groups outlined below, estimated your total for the first stimulus payment or used our calculator to get an idea of your payment for the second and think the IRS didn’t send the full amount you qualified for, you have another chance this year to claim missing stimulus check money through an IRS Recovery Rebate Credit.
To start the Recovery Rebate Credit claim process, first 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.
You need to file for the credit when you submit your federal tax returns this year. The IRS started processing 2020 tax returns on Feb. 12, and federal tax returns will be due April 15. (In 2020, the IRS extended the deadline to July 15 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. A House committee has asked the IRS for a nationwide extension this year as well, but the IRS has not yet granted it).
File for your missing money from the first and/or second stimulus on the 2020 Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR. The tax return instructions include a worksheet to figure out the amount of any Recovery Rebate Credit for which you’re eligible, according to the IRS. However, this worksheet requires you to know the amounts of your stimulus payments. Again, CNET’s stimulus check calculators for the second and first payments can provide an estimate.
To start filing for a partial check rebate, you’ll need the IRS’ calculated amount from the letter the IRS sent confirming your payment. This was called Notice 1444 for the first payment and Notice 1444-B for the second payment.
If you file for the credit and are owed money, you’ll either see the amount of your tax refund increased or the amount of tax you owe lowered, depending on the amount of stimulus money you’re eligible to receive…Read more>>