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

By Christine Tran, 2020 Get It Back Campaign Intern

You can visit GetCTC.org to claim any stimulus checks you haven’t gotten. You can also sign up for advance Child Tax Credit Payments worth up to $1,800 per child in 2021 for parents and caregivers.

If you didn’t get your first or second stimulus check, don’t worry — you can still claim the payments in 2021 as a tax credit and get the money as part of your tax refund. The stimulus checks are a federal tax credit for the 2020 tax year, known as the Recovery Rebate Credit.

There are two ways to get the Recovery Rebate Credit:

1. If you’re required to file taxes, you can get the Recovery Rebate Creditby filing your taxes in 2021 for Tax Year 2020. 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.”

2. If you’re not required to file taxes, you can get the Recovery Rebate Credit using GetCTC.org, a simplified tax filing portal for non-filers. GetCTC is an IRS-approved service created by Code for America in partnership with the White House and U.S. Department of Treasury. You can use the portal even if you’re not signing up for the Child Tax Credit advance payments.

Filing your taxes or submitting your information to GetCTC.org will also ensure that you receive your third stimulus check if you haven’t yet. The third stimulus check will be deposited or sent separately from your tax refund.

First Stimulus Check

If you aren’t normally required to file taxes and didn’t file a 2018 or 2019 tax return, you may be missing your first stimulus check because the IRS doesn’t have your information in the tax system to send you a payment. If you’re not required to file a 2020 tax return (which you file in 2021), you can claim the Recovery Rebate Credit using GetCTC.org.

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

Second Stimulus Check

If you aren’t normally required to file taxes and didn’t file a 2019 tax return, you may be missing your second stimulus check because the IRS doesn’t have your information in the tax system to send you a payment. If you’re not required to file a 2020 tax return (which you file in 2021), you can claim the Recovery Rebate Credit using GetCTC.org.

If you’re required to file taxes and you did not qualify for the second stimulus check based on your 2019 taxes, you can also 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) or use GetCTC.org if you’re not required to file taxes.
  • If your second stimulus check was sent to a bank account that is closed or no longer active, the IRS will not be reissuing the payment by mail. Instead, you will have to file a 2020 tax return to the claim the payment as the Recovery Rebate Credit or use GetCTC.org if you’re not required to file taxes.
  • If your second stimulus doesn’t reflect all of your qualifying dependents or if your income decreased in 2020 and you only received a partial stimulus check because of your 2019 income, you could claim the additional money when you file your 2020 federal tax return or use GetCTC.org.

Third Stimulus Check

If you aren’t normally required to file taxes and didn’t file a 2019 tax return (in 2020), you may be missing your third stimulus check because the IRS doesn’t have your information to send you a payment. Although the current Recovery Rebate Credit is only used to claim your first and second stimulus check, the IRS will automatically determine your eligibility for the third stimulus check. If you’re not required to file a 2020 tax return (which you file in 2021), you can claim the Recovery Rebate Credit using GetCTC.org.

If you’re required to file taxes and you did not qualify for the third stimulus check based on your 2019 taxes, you may still qualify for the third stimulus check based on your 2020 taxes. If you have not received your third stimulus check, file a 2020 tax return.

To minimize any fees, file a 2020 tax return by October 15, 2021. 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. If you don’t owe taxes, there is no penalty for filing late.

Your third stimulus check will come as a separate deposit or check from your regular tax refund.

How do I claim the Recovery Rebate Credit using the IRS Non-filer Portal?

You can use either GetCTC.org or the IRS Non-filer Portal to claim your Recovery Rebate Credit. Use these tools only if you’re not required to file a 2020 tax return (which you file in 2021).

Code for America’s GetCTC.org

Visit GetCTC.org, a simplified tax filing portal, to submit your information to the IRS to claim your Recovery Rebate Credit. This tool is user- and mobile-friendly and is an alternative to the IRS Non-filer Portal. It is also available in Spanish.

You can use GetCTC.org to get missed stimulus checks even if you’re not signing up for the Child Tax Credit advance payments. If you use GetCTC.org, the tool will automatically calculate your Recovery Rebate Credit.

This is an example of how to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit through GetCTC.org.

If you didn’t receive the amounts you are eligible for, you will be taken through these next steps.

 

You will do the same for the second stimulus payment. If you need help finding the amount of your first and second stimulus check, click here.

Then, GetCTC.org will automatically calculate the total amount you are owed.

IRS Non-filer Portal

Alternatively, you can visit the IRS Non-filer Portal to create an account and fill out the IRS Non-filer form. You can use this guide for step-by-step instructions (with screenshots) on how to fill out the form.

On the form, there will be a line called “Recovery Rebate Credit Amount.” You will have to manually calculate the amount you are owed from the first and second stimulus checks. There are instructions in this guide on how to calculate the Recovery Rebate Credit.

GetCTC.org is easy to use, mobile friendly, has IRS-certified chat support, and calculates the amount of your Recovery Rebate Credit automatically. These features mean that it may be a more useful option.

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

You can claim the Recovery Rebate Credit when you are filing your tax return. 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. Note that most sites are closed now since it is outside of tax season.

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

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

Finding the amounts of your first and second 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 1444 shows how much you received from the first stimulus check and IRS Notice 1444-B shows how much you received from the second stimulus check.
  • Check your bank statements. If you had your payments direct deposited, you can find the amount of your first and second stimulus check using your bank statements. They should be labeled as: “IRS TREAS 310.”
  • 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 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 first and second stimulus check 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.

After providing the amount of your first and second stimulus check, GetCTC.org or the tax software will calculate the total amount that you are owed.

If you are doing your taxes without the help of software or using the IRS Non-filer portal, 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 2020 tax refund. If you electronically file your tax return, including using the Non-filer portal, 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.

Need help with your taxes?

  • This Free Tax Filing pagecan help you find the best resource to file your taxes for free.
  • If you’re not required to file a tax return, visit GetCTC.org to submit your information to the IRS to get any missing stimulus checks with the help of IRS certified volunteers. It is also available in Spanish. Or, you can use this guide to manually fill out the Non-filer form by yourself on the IRS Non-filer portal.

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