Getting 2021 Expanded Tax Credits and Missing Stimulus Payments
It's not too late to claim 2021 expanded tax credits or any missed stimulus checks!

By Tatiana Johnson

To provide on-going relief due to COVID, the government passed historic expansions to several tax credits for 2021 only. The 2021 American Rescue Plan included changes to tax credits that made more money available to more people, including those who don’t usually file taxes.

Didn’t claim these benefits and think you may have been eligible? Don’t worry, it’s not too late! Here are key tax credits you don’t want to miss and how you can claim them.

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2021 expanded Child Tax Credit (CTC)

  • Available to families with a child that has a Social Security number (SSN).
  • Filers must have an SSN or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITIN).
  • No minimum earnings requirement, meaning you may qualify even if you didn’t have income from a job in 2021.
  • Worth up to:
    • $3,600 for each qualifying child under the age of 6
    • $3,000 for each qualifying child between the ages of 6 and 17

Learn more about the 2021 expanded Child Tax Credit.

2021 expanded Earned Income Credit (EITC)

  • Available to U.S. citizens who have income from a job.
  • Everyone listed on the tax return must have a Social Security number (SSN).
  • Available to individuals 19 years or older without qualifying children IF they were not a full- or part-time student for more than 5 months in 2021.
  • Qualified homeless youth or former foster youth who are at least 18 years old and work are also eligible even if they are a student.
  • Worth up to:
    • $1,502 for individuals without qualifying children
    • $6,728 for families with 3 or more qualifying children living with them. (Families with fewer children qualify for a smaller credit.)
  • The 2021 EITC Lookback rule: If your income in 2021 is less than your 2019 income, you can use your 2019 earned income to calculate your EITC. Choose the year that gives you the bigger refund.

Learn more about the 2021 expanded Earned Income Tax Credit.

2021 Recovery Rebate Credit

  • Available for stimulus payments you didn’t receive in 2021 for the third stimulus check.
  • Generally available to U.S. citizens who have a Social Security number (SSN)
  • No minimum earnings requirement, meaning you may qualify even if you didn’t have income from a job in 2021.
  • Worth up to:
    • $1,400 for each eligible adult and qualifying dependent

Get more information on the Recovery Rebate Credit.

2020 Recovery Rebate Credit

  • Available for stimulus payments you didn’t receive in 2020 for the first or second stimulus checks.
  • Generally available to U.S. citizens who have a Social Security number (SSN).
  • No minimum earnings requirement, meaning you may qualify even if you didn’t have income from a job in 2020.
  • Worth up to:
    • First Stimulus Check: $1,200 for individuals, $2,400 for married couples, and $500 for each qualifying dependent
    • Second Stimulus Check: $600 for each eligible adult and qualifying dependent

Get more information on the Recovery Rebate Credit.

What do I need to do to get these tax credits?

File a 2021 tax return by April 18, 2025, to claim the 2021 expanded Child Tax Credit, the 2021 expanded Earned Income Tax Credit, or the 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit.

For the 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit, you must file a 2020 tax return by May 17, 2024, to get any missed stimulus payments for the first and second stimulus checks. You must file your 2020 tax return by mail. You cannot submit it electronically.

Contact your local VITA site or call your local 211 to find free tax services in your area. Ask if they file past year tax returns. Some VITA sites only do this after April, once the busy tax season ends. In addition, tax preparers at GetYourRefund.org can help file past returns.

Learn more about filing prior year taxes.



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