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How to Claim Missing Incentive Money on Your 2020 Taxes: IRS Recovery Rebate Credit


If the IRS owes you money from the first or second stimulus check, you can still claim it this year.

Sarah Tew / CNET

With the 17-day window now closed to automatically update your second stimulus control from the IRS and Treasury Department, your next chance to get the incentive money that the government owes you of both the second and the first payments for economic consequences is next month when you file your tax return for 2020.

However, before you start collecting all of your tax papers, the first thing to do is confirm your payment status online through the IRS. If the free service says your payment met the deadline and was sent by mail, you can track it through the USPS . If you don’t find out the confusing messages the IRS tool tells you, if it appears some kind of mistake has been made, or if you seem to be missing money for your family members, it may be time to turn to the IRS recovery credit for your upcoming taxes.

If you were claiming your money on your taxes, you wouldn’t be sending a separate check. However, it would either increase the size of your total tax returns or reduce the amount of taxes you owe. In some cases, you may need a payment tracking on your stimulus check instead. Here’s an overview of what you need to know about applying for a Recovery Rebate Credit. And here are details on one third stimulus check. This story was recently updated with new information.

How and when can I file a claim for an incentive payment due?

If you belong to one of the groups below or estimated your total for the first incentive payment or used our calculator to get an idea of ​​your payment for the second and think the IRS did not send the full amount for which you are qualified, you have another chance this year to claim missing stimulus check money through an IRS Recovery Rebate Credit.

You apply for the credit if you receive your federal tax returns this year. The IRS said it will begin processing the 2020 tax returns on February 12, and the federal tax returns must be filed on April 15. (In 2020, the IRS extended the deadline to July 15th due to the COVID-19 pandemic).

While the IRS doesn’t yet have definitive instructions for every personal situation (more on this below), the agency does say that people filing taxes can use what’s called the Recovery Rebate Credit on the 2020 Form 1040 or the 1040-SR form to claim catch-up. The IRS will provide a recovery discount worksheet to help you determine if you are missing a payment and for how much.

To begin submitting a partial check discount, you will need the amount calculated by the IRS from the letter sent by the IRS to confirm that your payment has been sent. Note 1444 for the first payment and Note 1444-B for the second payment when you apply this year.

If you apply for the credit and owe money, you will see either the amount of your tax refund increased or the amount of tax you owe reduced, depending on the amount of incentive money for which you are eligible.

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If you don’t need to file a federal tax return, here’s what you can do

Last fall, the IRS sent letters to 9 million Americans who may be eligible for a payment but may not have known they had to register to claim it. This group – which the IRS categorizes as “non-affiliates” – includes people who did not file a tax return in 2018 or 2019, such as older adults, retirees, SSDI or SSI receivers and individuals with an income of less than $ 12,200. Those in this group were required to file a claim using the Non-Filers tool by November 21. The IRS said if you missed the deadline, you can claim payment through the Recovery Rebate Credit when you file a federal income tax return for 2020:

When you file a 2020 Form 1040 or 1040SR, you may be eligible for the Recovery Rebate Credit. Keep your IRS letter – Notice 1444 Your Economic Impact Payment – with your 2020 tax information. You will need the amount of the payment in the letter when you apply in 2021.

If you meet the requirements, you can get started with your claim using the IRS’s free tax filing service.

Are you missing out on incentive money for a dependent child?

Each qualifies under the CARES Act child dependent – those 16 and under – were eligible for a check for $ 500. But some people’s payments were $ 500 short for any eligible dependent.

If you claimed it before November 21, 2020, you should receive payment in December of last year. You can use our stimulus check calculator to get an idea of ​​how much you might owe.

As with the non-affiliates, the IRS said that if you missed the deadline, you can claim payment on your 2020 federal tax return this year by filing a 2020 Form 1040 or 1040-SR.

Note that in some cases, where parents are divorced or divorced and share custody of a dependent, any parent can receive a payment of $ 500 or $ 600 per eligible child, for the first and second check, respectively, so you may not even know you’re eligible for the payment to begin with.

Was your stimulus check garnished accidentally?

Although there are a few instances where the federal government or a debt collection agency could seize your first payment to cover an outstanding debt, in general, if you are eligible for a check, it is up to you to spend or save as you wish. One area in which the federal government can garnish the first check is for child support backlog. You cannot confiscate your second check for overdue support. If it parents are divorced or divorced, only the spouse who owes child support may have the check seized.

According to the IRS, the parent who does not owe child support should receive their share of the initial payment without taking any action. If you haven’t received your check, the IRS said it works to send the missing payments. While you can’t rely much on IRS decisions, you can also try the Non-Filers tool to make a record of your claim.

What to do if you are using our stimulus calculator and think you have received the wrong payment amount

Finally, if you use our first stimulus check calculator or second payment calculator and find that you may be eligible for a larger payment than you received, you can use the IRS Get My Payment tool to see if a check is in the works. If the IRS is waiting for information from you that it needs to make your payment, you can still claim your money this year.


There are still unclaimed stimulus controls.

Sarah Tew / CNET

What to do if you are a US citizen who resides abroad, resides in US territory, or is not a citizen

The IRS has rules governing payment terms for US citizens living abroad and non-US citizens working in the US – along with spouses of non-resident aliens. We have a guide running through the different eligibility scenarios along with what to do if you qualify but did not receive a check.

People who are in prison or prison may be eligible for a court order

Since April, when it first started sending payments, the IRS has been going back and forth on whether those in US prisons and prisons are eligible for an incentive check.

A ruling last fall by a federal judge in California seemed to have provisionally resolved the question and required the IRS to contact those in prison who can file a claim for a stimulus check. The deadline for submitting a claim in 2020 – by mail or online – has passed. As with others who miss a payment, the IRS said that if you don’t receive a payment by December 31, 2020, you may be able to claim it this year by filing a 2020 Form 1040 or 1040-SR.

To know everything about the first payment, see our guide to the first round of checks. We also have an idea of ​​how much money you can get in one a third stimulus check, the current situation is with one third incentive payment and all benefits that the next stimulus package could bring.

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