Although the IRS sent out millions of stimulus checks, the agency was unable to locate some recipients. If you haven’t received yours, here’s what to do to claim it.
In February the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced that it had sent out “all the stimulus checks” but some people never received the second payment and some never even received the first. The reason is that the IRS had no information on file and because of the CARES Act rules that authorized the economic impact payments some time later.
Whatever your case, if you did not receive the full amount you will have to claim your money through a Recovery Refund Credit when you file your taxes this year.
The reason millions of people did not receive their stimulus check is because the IRS may have made an error, the check was garnished or perhaps the agency did not use information from 2018 and 2019 tax returns.
During the first round only those with a Social Security number were eligible to receive a payment. This affected mixed-status families who filed jointly. This group did not receive a payment, however, the pandemic relief law corrected that problem and payments were made retroactive for everyone in a mixed-status family with a Social Security number.
During the second round of stimulus checks millions of payments were mistakenly sent to temporary bank accounts used by online tax filing firms when processing taxpayer returns. The IRS and the companies corrected the error days later and the recipients received the payments.
In all cases those who were entitled to one or both of the stimulus checks were able to check with the IRS to see how much money they received. In late January, the agency updated its Get My Payment website to reflect the final payments.
How to claim your lost stimulus check
The IRS began processing 2020 tax returns on Feb. 12, creating a delay from the usual Jan. 15 start. The IRS has made its Free File tool available. You can direct file your tax return through the IRS if you make less than $72,000 a year.
If you are missing one or both of your stimulus payments, be sure to fill out the recovery credit section of the return after you enter personal information such as your name, address and Social Security number. Most tax software programs available through the Free File tool will guide you on whether you have received the full amount of money you are due.
The refund credit ties the stimulus money to your tax return. That means you won’t receive a separate check, but you may get a larger tax refund or pay a smaller tax bill. If you don’t usually file taxes (for example, if you receive SSI or SSDI, or if you’re retired), you’ll have to do so this year. Have your paperwork handy and in order before you start filing your taxes.
The first step to getting your recovery refund credit is to confirm your payment status online through the IRS Get My Payment tool. If you see a message or a possible error, you may be eligible to receive a payment refund.
To receive your refund more quickly, the IRS recommends that you e-file your return and use the direct deposit option. Otherwise, the IRS will take longer to process your paperwork and you will have to mail a physical check. Filing your return will help ensure that you receive your third stimulus check.
If you do not normally file your income tax return this year, you should do so. By filing a return the IRS will have your information on file which could give you access to the tax provisions of the new pandemic bill being discussed in Congress and future payments.
Congress is set to pass legislation based on the Biden Administration’s $1.9 billion American Bailout Plan, which includes a $1,400 stimulus check. There are also proposals to extend the child tax credit and the earned income tax credit. The expanded child tax credit could see households receive up to $300 or $250 per child per month, depending on their age, for six months beginning in July.
The IRS will send these payments automatically based on information the agency has without requiring you to do anything. Remember, the deadline to file your tax return is April 15, and the sooner you do it, the better chance you have of receiving your new stimulus check and back payments.