What do I do if I didn’t get my stimulus checks?

By Christine Tran, 2020 Get It Back Campaign Intern

In 2022, you can visit GetYourRefund.org to claim any stimulus checks you haven’t gotten. You will need to file a 2020 tax return to get the first and second stimulus checks and a 2021 tax return to get the third stimulus check.

If you didn’t get your first, second, or third stimulus check, don’t worry — you can still claim the payments as a tax credit and get the money as part of your tax refund. The stimulus checks are a federal tax credit, known as the Recovery Rebate Credit. You will need to file a tax return to get the Recovery Rebate Credit.

How do I claim the Recovery Rebate Credit on my tax return?

You can get the Recovery Rebate Credit by filing your taxes. The tax return you need to file will depend on which stimulus checks you need to get. Regardless of which taxes you must file, you can visit GetYourRefund.org to file your taxes for free.

First and Second Stimulus Check

You will need to file a tax return for Tax Year 2020 (which you file in 2021). The deadline to file your taxes this year was May 17, 2021. The tax filing extension deadline is October 15, 2021.

If you missed the filing deadline, you can still file your tax return to get your first and second stimulus checks. If you don’t owe taxes, there is no penalty for filing late. If you owe taxes, you may be subject to penalties and fines for not filing or not paying taxes. The government may reduce your tax refund to pay for any taxes you owe and other federal and state debts.

To learn more about your options if you think you owe taxes, read “Filing Past Due Tax Returns” and “What to Do if I Owe Taxes but Can’t Pay Them.”

Third Stimulus Check

You will need to file a tax return for Tax Year 2021 (which you file in 2022). The deadline to file your tax return is April 18, 2022.

Filing Your Taxes

Tax software, such as MyFreeTaxes, H&R Block, or TurboTax, will automatically help determine if you qualify for the Recovery Rebate Credit.

If your income is under $72,000, you can use IRS Free File to prepare and file your federal income taxes online for free. If you earn less than about $56,000, you can also use the IRS VITA Locator tool or visit AARP Foundation Tax-Aide to find a free tax site near you during the tax season.

If you received your first, second, and/or third stimulus check, you’ll need to know the amount you got for each check. If you need help finding the amount of your checks, click here. If you haven’t received your stimulus checks, you will be asked questions to help confirm your eligibility and the amount you are owed.

This is an example of how to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit through MyFreeTaxes tax software.

The following sections provides information about who may need to file to get each of the stimulus checks.

First Stimulus Check

If you did not qualify for the first stimulus check based on your 2018 or 2019 taxes, you can claim the Recovery Rebate Credit if you are eligible based on your 2020 tax return (which you file in 2021).

Here are some situations where you may need to take action to get the first stimulus check:

Second Stimulus Check

If you did not qualify for the second stimulus check based on your 2019 taxes, you can claim the Recovery Rebate Credit if you are eligible based on your 2020 tax return. Please note that some of the second stimulus check eligibility rules differ from the first stimulus check.

Here are some situations where you may need to take action to get the second stimulus check:

  • If you were claimed as a dependent on someone else’s 2019 tax return, you were not eligible for a stimulus check. However, if that changed in 2020 and you meet the other eligibility requirements, you can claim the credit on your 2020 federal tax return (which you file in 2021).
  • If your second stimulus check was sent to a bank account that is closed or no longer active, the IRS will not reissue the payment by mail. Instead, you will have to file a 2020 tax return to the claim the payment as the Recovery Rebate Credit.
  • If your second stimulus check didn’t reflect all of your qualifying dependents or if your income decreased in 2020 and you only received a partial stimulus check based on your 2019 income, you can claim the additional money when you file a 2020 federal tax return.

Third Stimulus Check

If you did not qualify for the third stimulus check based on your 2019 or 2020 taxes, you can claim the Recovery Rebate Credit if you are eligible based on your 2021 tax return.

Here are some situations where you may need to take action to get the third stimulus check:

  • If you were claimed as a dependent on someone else’s 2020 tax return, you were not eligible for a stimulus check. However, if that changed in 2021 and you meet the other eligibility requirements, you can claim the credit on your 2021 federal tax return (which you file in 2022).
  • If your third stimulus check was based on your 2019 return or information received from Social Security Administration, Railroad Retirement Board, or Veteran Affairs and you did not get the correct amount.
  • If your third stimulus check didn’t reflect all your qualifying dependents or if your income decreased in 2021 and you only received a partial stimulus check because of your 2019 or 2020 income, you could claim the additional money when you file your 2021 federal tax return (which you file in 2022).

Finding the amounts of your first, second, and third stimulus checks

To find the amount of stimulus payment(s) you’ve received, you can:

  • Refer to the IRS notices that were mailed to youIRS Notice 1444shows how much you received from the first stimulus check. IRS Notice 1444-B shows how much you received from the second stimulus check. IRS Notice 1444-C shows how much you received from the third stimulus check.
  • Check your bank statements. If you had your payments direct deposited, you can find the amount of your first, second, and third stimulus check using your bank statements. They should be labeled as “IRS TREAS 310” and have a code of either “TAXEIP1” (first stimulus check), “TAXEIP2” (second stimulus check), or “TAXEIP3” (third stimulus check).
  • Request an account transcript. You can request an account transcript sent electronically or by mail using Get Transcript. You can also call the IRS’ automated phone transcript service at 800-908-9946 or mail in Form 4506-T to have your transcript be sent by mail.
  • Create an account on IRS.gov/account. You can view your stimulus check amounts under the Tax Records tab. If you filed jointly with your spouse, you will only see your half of the stimulus check amounts. Your spouse will need to sign into their own account to see the other half of the stimulus check amounts.

To create an account, you will need:

  1. Basic information: full name, email, birthday, Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN), tax filing status, and current address.
  2. A number from ONE of your financial accounts such as the last 8 digits of your VISA, Mastercard, or Discover credit card or the loan account number of one of the following types of loans: student loan, mortgage loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, OR an auto loan.

If the above options don’t work for you, you can provide the amount of your stimulus checks based on memory. The IRS will correct the amount for you if you make a mistake, which may delay the processing of your tax return. The IRS will notify you of any changes made to your tax return.

If you are doing your taxes without the help of software, you can use the Recovery Rebate Credit Calculation Instructions here (go to Step 3 and click “Didn’t get your full stimulus check?”).

When will I get the Recovery Rebate Credit?

You will most likely get the Recovery Rebate Credit as part of your tax refunds. If you electronically file your tax return, you will likely receive your refund within 3 weeks. If you mail your return, it can take at least 8 weeks to receive your refund.

Claiming the Recovery Rebate Credit will not delay your tax refund. However, if you don’t claim the correct amount of the Recovery Rebate Credit, your refund may be delayed while the IRS corrects the error on your return. The IRS will send you a notice of any changes made to your return.

You can check on the status of your refund using the IRS Check My Refund Status tool.

Click here to learn how to get your stimulus checks.

Need help with claiming the Recovery Rebate Credit?

This Free Tax Filing page can help you find the best resource to file your taxes for free.


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