by Maurie Backman | Feb. 18, 2021
Missing your stimulus check? You'll need to take action.
In December, after months of fruitless negotiations, lawmakers finally reached an agreement on a second coronavirus relief bill that extended unemployment benefits and allowed for a second round of stimulus checks worth $600 apiece. The IRS was quick to issue those checks once legislation was signed in late December, and by early 2021, a lot of people saw that money hit their bank accounts.
But if you haven't received your stimulus cash at this point, you'll most likely need to take action to get it. The IRS recently announced that it's finished sending $600 stimulus payments to all of the eligible recipients it has on record. While some people may still need to wait a bit for their stimulus checks or debit cards to arrive in the mail, for the most part, if you haven't gotten any stimulus money by now, it means you'll need to file a tax return to get it.
Single tax filers earning $75,000 or less and married couples filing jointly earning $150,000 or less were entitled to a full stimulus payment under the last bill. From there, those stimulus payments phased out so that singles without children earning more than $87,000 and couples without children earning more than $174,000 got no money at all.
If your income falls within the limit for stimulus eligibility but you never got your money, it could be because the IRS didn't have a recent tax return for you on record. Not everyone is required to file a tax return every year. If your earnings don't exceed the standard deduction and you're not self-employed, you can generally skip filing a return without any penalty. As such, if you didn't file a return for the past two years, you may not have made it onto the IRS distribution list.
The good news is that you can still get your stimulus money. The bad news is that you'll have to file a tax return to do so. Specifically, you'll need to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit on your return. As long as you don't owe any other tax, the IRS should issue your $600 stimulus in refund form.
Here's some more good news. If your income is $72,000 or less, you're entitled to file a tax return for free with certain IRS filing partners. And when you do so electronically, you can generally expect your refund within 21 days of submitting your return. Sign up for direct deposit, and you may have that money within 10 days.
While returns for the 2020 tax year aren't due until April 15, the IRS is already accepting them, and the sooner you submit yours, the sooner you'll get the stimulus cash you're due. Just as important, once you submit that return, the IRS will have your information on file so that once a third stimulus round comes through, which lawmakers are working on right now, you should get your money quickly without having to go out and ask for it.
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