The IRS has issued a reminder to those who may be entitled to the Recovery Rebate Credit to file a tax return and claim their money before the deadline.
I know what you’re thinking: wasn’t that a long (long) time ago? Yes.
In March 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act—or CARES Act—provided Economic Impact Payments—or EIPs—of up to $1,200 per adult for eligible individuals and $500 per qualifying child under age 17. The payments were reduced for individuals with adjusted gross income (AGI) greater than $75,000 ($150,000 for married couples filing a joint return).
The Tax Relief Act of 2020, enacted in late December 2020, authorized additional payments of up to $600 per adult for eligible individuals and up to $600 for each qualifying child under age 17. The AGI thresholds at which the payments began to be reduced were identical to those under the CARES Act.
The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, enacted in early March 2021, provided EIPs of up to $1,400 for eligible individuals or $2,800 for married couples filing jointly, plus $1,400 for each qualifying dependent, including adult dependents.
Most people received their EIPs, more commonly called stimulus checks, in 2020 and 2021. Those who didn’t receive checks, or received the wrong amount, could claim them by filing a tax return and claiming the Recovery Rebate Credit.
If you missed out initially, there’s still time: The deadlines to file a return and claim the 2020 and 2021 credits are May 17, 2024, and April 15, 2025, respectively. That’s because the 2020 credit would have been claimed on a return filed 2021, and the 2021 credit would have been claimed on a return filed in 2022. You typically have three years from the due date to claim a refund. That means you still have a little extra time to claim your refund if you didn’t file in 2021 or 2022.
You can’t claim the credit if you don’t file. It’s important to note that:
- Anyone who didn’t receive the full amount of both stimulus checks should include the amounts they received, before any offsets, when they file. This includes taxpayers who did not receive the proper amount for their dependents.
- The stimulus checks will not reduce the amount of your refund.
- The stimulus checks are not taxable.
If you need help remembering if you filed or received the credit (no judgment!), you can check your IRS Online Account.
Generally, to claim the 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit, a person must:
- Have been a U.S. citizen or U.S. resident alien in 2020;
- Not have been a dependent of another taxpayer for 2020; and
- Have a Social Security number issued before the due date of the tax return that is valid for employment in the U.S.
Generally, to claim the 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit, a person must:
- Have been a U.S. citizen or U.S. resident alien in 2021;
- Not have been a dependent of another taxpayer for 2021; and
- Have a Social Security number issued by the due date of the tax return, claim a dependent who has a Social Security number issued by the due date of the tax return, or claim a dependent with an Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number.
Claiming The Credit
You can file your returns electronically—the tax software will help you figure out your Recovery Rebate Credits—and receive your refund via direct deposit.
There is no penalty for a refund on a tax return filed after its due date.
If you didn’t file because you were worried about how it might impact your benefits, you should know that the credit can’t be counted as income when determining eligibility for federal benefits like Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). Additionally, claiming the credit will not affect your immigration status or your ability to get a green card or immigration benefits.
You can find online tax forms and instructions to file your past due return, or order them by calling 800-TAX-FORM (1.800.829.3676) or 1.800.829.4059 for TTY/TDD.
Once you file, be prepared to wait: The IRS says it takes approximately six weeks to process an accurately completed past due tax return.
If you need help, you can also find free one-on-one tax preparation help nationwide through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Tax Counseling for the Elderly programs. If you need to find a location near you, use the VITA Locator Tool or call 1.800.906.9887.
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