- The government has sent three rounds of stimulus checks since the Covid-19 pandemic began.
- Yet some people may be missing a check or feel the payments they received were too low.
- There is still time to claim any missing funds by filing a federal tax return by May 17.
If you're missing one or more stimulus check payments, there is still time to claim the money.
But the deadline is fast approaching.
The IRS is urging individuals who still have not received their stimulus checks, or received less than they anticipated, to file a federal tax return to claim it.
This year, the deadline to file has been pushed to May 17 from the traditional April 15 tax day.
Submitting a return can help if you are still due the recent $1,400 stimulus payment. It can also help resolve the situation if you are missing either or both of the first two checks for up to $1,200 or $600.
How your return can help with a $1,400 stimulus check
Since March, the government has been deploying new batches of stimulus checks weekly.
Each of those rounds has included payments to people that were prompted by the IRS processing their 2020 tax returns.
That goes for people who do not typically file tax returns, but did so this year in order to get their $1,400 checks. Once those forms were processed, the IRS sent their payments.
In addition, people who already received their third stimulus check, and who are due more money after the IRS completed their latest return, received "plus-up" payments from the agency.
That could happen if their financial circumstances changed since their 2019 return, such as their income declining last year.
Not everyone needs to file a federal return in order to get their stimulus checks. If you receive federal benefits and do not typically file, you should get your payment automatically. However, you may want to file a return in order to submit information on eligible dependents.
In addition, if you used the IRS online non-filer tool last year, you should not have to resubmit your information.
The non-filer tool has not been reopened this year. Instead, the IRS has urged people who it does not already have on record to file tax returns, which can help the agency evaluate whether or not you may be eligible for other tax credits.
How to claim your missing $600 or $1,200 payments
The stimulus checks are generally advance payments of a tax credit.
The 2020 tax returns now offer a section where you can claim the recovery rebate credit for either the first $1,200 stimulus check or the second $600 payment if that money is due to you — line 30 of Forms 1040 or 1040-SR.
On that part of the return, filers can start with the amount of stimulus money they already received and calculate any more funds which they are due. That can be done either through a worksheet provided with the tax form or through tax preparation software.
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Once the IRS receives the return, the tax agency will also tally your recovery rebate credit, which means it may correct the amount you claim.
If there is a discrepancy, that could lead to a "slight delay" in processing the return, according to the tax agency.
However, for people who still do not understand why they received less money than they thought they were due, or no money at all, the process could help resolve the confusion.
The IRS will mail letters to filers in this situation to explain what prompted the correction.
Some reasons why the IRS might correct the credit amount include not providing a valid Social Security number or if you were claimed as a dependent on a 2020 tax return. If a dependent was age 17 or over as of Jan. 1, 2020, they will not be eligible for either of the first two checks.
Math errors in the rebate calculations could also prompt a correction.
You're generally eligible for each stimulus check, so long as your adjusted gross income is up to $75,000 if single, $112,500 if you file as head of household or $150,000 if married and filing jointly.
However, each stimulus check comes with its own set of eligibility rules, particularly with regard to income phase-outs and dependent eligibility. To find out more about why you may or may not qualify for the money, the IRS has information on the first $1,200, second $600 and third $1,400 payments on its website.
The IRS also offers information on the options you have for filing electronically, including free filing and tax preparation services.