Declare lacking stimulus cash in your 2020 tax refund now. This is how

Claim missing stimulus money on your 2020 tax refund now. Here's how

If the IRS owes you cash from the primary two stimulus checks, you may get it by submitting a restoration Rebate Credit score.


Angela Lang/CNET

A third stimulus test is probably going on the best way for you, if you have not already obtained a fee of as much as $1,400 per particular persontogether with dependents. Nonetheless, whereas the IRS continues to ship cash to tens of hundreds of thousands extra People (this week checks went out for SSI and SSDI recipients, and subsequent week, these for veterans receiving VA advantages will, too), some individuals nonetheless want to say lacking cash from the primary or second stimulus checks

Now that tax season is prolonged to Might 17, you may have to file a Restoration Rebate Credit score in your 2020 return if that you must declare any of the $1,200 or $600 from the earlier two checks. After submitting, you might obtain your cash as a bigger tax refund or a smaller tax invoice in case you owe taxes. You also needs to contemplate signing up for direct deposit to get your refund again sooner. Nonetheless, remember that the IRS may garnish some or your whole refund to cowl excellent money owed.

We’ll clarify what that you must learn about beginning the Restoration Rebate Credit score declare course of. For those who suppose you are lacking cash from the third test, this is what that you must learn about what may maintain up your test, the way to report a fee drawback and when to request an IRS fee hint. Moreover, this is what we learn about a fourth stimulus test and when you might begin getting your 2021 baby tax credit score, if you and your kids qualify. Listed here are different tax credit that would carry you more cash this 12 months. This story was lately up to date.

File for a Restoration Rebate Credit score in your tax return to get your lacking stimulus cash — this is how

For those who suppose the IRS owes you a full or partial stimulus test for any motive (and there are many situations beneath), you have got another likelihood this 12 months to say lacking stimulus test cash by submitting a Restoration Rebate Credit score as a part of your 2020 taxes. It could be that your test whole would not match your estimated whole for the primary stimulus fee or the second test (calculate that right here), or possibly there was a supply error, or an unintended garnishment, or a dependent was not noted, like a new child not represented on final 12 months’s taxes.

To begin the Restoration Rebate Credit score declare course of, first affirm your fee standing on-line by the IRS. For those who see a complicated message or a attainable error, you could be a candidate for a rebate or a fee hint

You must file for the credit score while you submit your federal tax returns this 12 months. The IRS began processing 2020 tax returns on Feb. 12, and federal tax returns shall be due Might 17 because of an extension the IRS accredited. 

File to your lacking cash from the primary and/or second stimulus on the 2020 Kind 1040 or Kind 1040-SR. The tax return directions embody a worksheet to determine the quantity of any Restoration Rebate Credit score for which you are eligible, based on the IRS. Nonetheless, this worksheet requires you to know the quantities of your stimulus funds. Once more, CNET’s stimulus test calculators for the second and first funds can present an estimate.


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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

You can claim missing stimulus money even if you don’t usually file taxes. Here’s what to do 

Last fall, the IRS sent letters to 9 million Americans who may have qualified for a payment but perhaps didn’t know they needed to register to claim it. This group — which the IRS categorizes as “nonfilers” — includes people who didn’t file a tax return in 2018 or 2019, such as older adults, retirees, SSDI or SSI recipients and individuals with incomes less than $12,200. People in this group needed to file a claim using the Non-Filers tool by Nov. 21. The IRS said if you missed the deadline you can claim the payment through the Recovery Rebate Credit when you file a 2020 federal income tax return: 

When you file a 2020 Form 1040 or 1040SR you may be eligible for the Recovery Rebate Credit. Save your IRS letter — Notice 1444 Your Economic Impact Payment — with your 2020 tax records. You’ll need the amount of the payment in the letter when you file in 2021.

That means even if you don’t usually file taxes, you will have to do so this year to claim any missing stimulus money. If you meet the requirements, you can get started with your claim using the IRS’ free tax-filing service. We have more detailed instructions for how nonfilers can file a tax return to claim missing stimulus money here.


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If you used CNET’s stimulus calculator and qualify for more money than the IRS sent, you should be able to claim it

If you use our first stimulus check calculator or second payment calculator and find you may have qualified for a larger stimulus payment than you received, you’ll likely be able to claim your money this year as a Recovery Rebate Credit.

Unfortunately, the IRS Get My Payment tool is no longer available for the first and second stimulus payments, so you won’t be able to find your information there.

If your Recovery Rebate amount is not what you expect, here’s what might have happened

If you claim a Recovery Rebate Credit on your tax return, the IRS will determine your eligibility and the amount of the credit based on two things: your 2020 tax return, and the amounts of any stimulus payments issued previously (if you got them). 

If there is a mistake with the amount on line 30 of form 1040 or 1040-SR (where you claim the credit), the IRS will calculate the correct amount and process the return, according to an April 5 news release. This might delay the processing of your return, and the IRS will send you a letter explaining any changes. Some common reasons why the IRS may need to correct your credit are:

  • You were claimed as a dependent on another person’s 2020 tax return
  • You did not provide a Social Security number valid for employment
  • Your qualifying child was age 17 or older on January 1, 2020, and therefore not eligible for the first two payments
  • Math errors relating to calculating your adjusted gross income and any payments already received

If you think the IRS sent you the wrong amount, the agency recommends reading its Recovery Rebate FAQ page before contacting them. 

Reasons why your tax refund or missing stimulus money could be seized

Stimulus checks are technically considered a tax credit, no matter how you get them. Typically, the IRS can reduce a taxpayer’s refund to repay outstanding debts like past-due child support, unpaid student loans and certain other federal and state liabilities. The CARES Act stated that the first stimulus check could not be garnished for these purposes, except for overdue child support. 

The December stimulus package went a step further and protected the second round of stimulus checks from all garnishment, including child support. However, it also limited that exception only to advance payments, and retroactively revised the CARES Act’s rules as well — meaning that your Recovery Rebate Credit that arrives on your tax refund for missing stimulus money is treated differently from the stimulus money that arrived for others in the mail, according to the Taxpayer Advocate Service, an independent organization within the IRS.

For the third check, because of the way it was passed, it’s open to garnishment from private debt collectors, but not child support payments.

Bottom line: If you’re eligible for a stimulus payment through a Recovery Rebate Credit, but you have certain outstanding debts, some or all of your credit could be withheld to pay those debts, the Taxpayer Advocate Service wrote in a blog post.

What should you do if your stimulus check was mistakenly garnished?

Although there are a few cases where the federal government or a debt collector could seize your first payment to cover any outstanding debt, in general, if you qualify for a check, it’s yours to spend or save as you want. One area where the federal government can garnish your first stimulus check is for overdue child support. However, if the parents are separated or divorced, only the spouse who owes child support should have the check seized. You can’t have your second check seized for overdue support if it was sent as an advance check (see above).

According to the IRS, the parent who doesn’t owe child support should receive their portion of the first payment without having to take action. If you haven’t received your check, the IRS says it’s working to send out the missing payments. While you don’t have much recourse to appeal IRS decisions, you can also try the Non-Filers tool to create a record of your claim.

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There are still unclaimed stimulus checks.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Claim missing stimulus money for child dependents

Under the CARES Act passed in March 2020, each qualifying child dependent — those 16 years old and younger — was eligible for a $500 check. But some people’s payments were short $500 for each eligible dependent. If you claimed it by Nov. 21 of 2020, you should have received the payment in December 2020. 

As with the nonfilers, if you missed that deadline, the IRS says you can claim the payment on your 2020 federal tax return this year, by filing a 2020 Form 1040 or 1040-SR. Use our stimulus check calculator to get an idea of how much you may be owed.

In the second stimulus check, which went out in December, children under 17 were each allotted $600 as part of the family total.

Note that in a few cases, where parents are separated or divorced and share joint custody of a dependent, each parent can get a $500 or $600 payment per eligible child, for the first and second checks, respectively. So you may not even be aware you’re eligible for the payment to begin with.

What happens if you’re a US citizen living abroad or a noncitizen?

The IRS has rules that set the payment eligibility guidelines for US citizens who live abroad and non-US citizens who work in the US — along with spouses of nonresident aliens. We have a guide that walks you through the various eligibility scenarios along with what to do if you qualify but didn’t get a check. (And here’s how your status might change in a third check for mixed-status families.)

People incarcerated can receive a stimulus check, according to a court ruling 

Since April 2020, when it first started sending payments, the IRS has gone back and forth on whether those who are in US jails and prisons qualify for a stimulus check.

A ruling last fall by a federal judge in California, however, seemed to have settled the question for now and required the IRS to contact those incarcerated and let them know they can file a claim for a stimulus check. The deadline to file a claim in 2020 — either through the mail or online — has passed. As with others who are missing a payment, the IRS said if you didn’t receive a payment by Dec. 31, 2020, you may be able to claim it this year by filing a 2020 Form 1040 or 1040-SR.

For everything to know about the first stimulus payment, see our guide to the first round of checks. Also, here’s how much money you could get with the third check and what we know so far about a potential fourth stimulus check

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