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When the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) authorized COVID-19 stimulus payments for struggling Americans in late-March, the IRS sprung into action. It distributed the funds to many Americans via direct deposit or check.

The agency used information from tax returns filed in 2018 and 2019 to find out who was eligible and where to send the money. It also got details about beneficiaries who don't necessarily file taxes from the Social Security Administration and Veterans Administration. Through these efforts, the IRS was able to reach most people and provide their payments.

But, most isn't all. In fact, an estimated 9 million people don't yet have their stimulus money. The good news is, if you're one of them, you can still get it this year. But the bad news is that you'll have to take action by tomorrow.

Nov. 21 is the last day to claim your stimulus money this year

If you did not receive a coronavirus stimulus payment and believe you are entitled to one, you'll need to fill out a form online. Complete an IRS form for non-filers online to get your money. You should use this form only if:

  • You did not already file a 2019 tax return and don't plan to file one
  • Your 2019 income did not exceed $12,200 or $24,400 for a married couple
  • You are not filing a separate tax return from a spouse who you were married to at the end of 2019
  • You were a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or qualifying alien at the end of 2019

The form will require you to provide your name, address, Social Security number, and information about qualifying dependents -- which include children under the age of 17. It is available in both English and Spanish. The IRS will use the details you submit to determine if you should receive a stimulus payment and how much it should be.

The online form for non-filers is much simpler than a tax return, and it also represents your last chance to obtain your COVID-19 money this year. If you miss the Nov. 21 deadline, you can still get the funds available to you, but only by filing a tax return for the 2020 year. If you aren't otherwise required to file a return, that's a lot of extra paperwork. And you won't be able to submit the forms until at least January 2021 when the IRS begins accepting 2020 returns.

Rather than waiting months and taking on the extra hassle, it's best to act quickly. Complete the online form for non-filers by tomorrow so you can get the funds you need to help you through the recession.

Make smart use of your stimulus funds

Whether you've already received a coronavirus stimulus check or are waiting for one, it's a good idea to use this money wisely to shore up your financial situation.

Like many Americans, you may need the cash to pay for essentials like rent and food or to cover upcoming holiday-related costs. If not, and you don't already have an emergency fund, putting extra money in a savings account could help you cover any unexpected expenses. On the other hand, if you're already well-prepared for any surprise costs or drops in income, investing the funds on the stock exchange could be a good option. The right choice will depend on your situation. But whatever you do, make sure you claim the money the government has provided to see you through these troubled times.