IRS Urges Eligible College Students to Register for Stimulus Checks by Nov. 21

by Christy Bieber | Updated July 25, 2021 - First published on Nov. 9, 2020

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The IRS urges college students to act so they don't leave their coronavirus stimulus money on the table.


On Nov. 5, the IRS issued an important alert to college students. The agency is urging eligible students to take action by Nov. 21 in order to obtain coronavirus stimulus money made available under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), signed into law in March.

The CARES Act provided for payments of up to $1,200 per adult and $500 per child dependent. While most people received their money automatically, many college students may not have. For students who are eligible, Nov. 21 is the last day to act to get the money this year. It's also the last opportunity to take advantage of a simplified process for obtaining the funds.

College students may have missed out on coronavirus stimulus money

College students first need to know that not every student is eligible for coronavirus relief. Only self-supporting students who are not declared as a dependent on their parent's tax return can claim the $1,200.

Unfortunately, many college students who are eligible didn't get their payment because the IRS used data from tax returns in 2018 or 2019 to determine who should receive stimulus money. And a substantial number of self-supporting college students who are eligible for payments didn't file tax returns in either year because their earnings were under the income threshold required to file. It's these students who need to act before Nov. 21 to get their money.

"College students in particular should be careful not to overlook these payments if they're supporting themselves and can't be claimed as a dependent on someone's tax returns," advised IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. "A few minutes of research could really help students."

The IRS also notes that recent college graduates whose parents previously claimed them as dependents may also be eligible for a payment if their parents do not claim them in 2020. Recent grads in that situation also need to file a tax return in 2021 to obtain the coronavirus stimulus money the CARES Act authorized.

What college students need to do to get their coronavirus stimulus checks

If you're a self-supporting student who wasn't claimed as a dependent, and you didn't get a coronavirus stimulus payment sent via check or deposited into your bank account, take action.

The IRS urges eligible students to submit their information using the online non-filers tool the agency created. However, this must be done by the Nov. 21 deadline. You should complete this form only if you don't plan to file a tax return for 2019; you did not get your stimulus payment; and no one claimed you as a dependent on their tax return.

The non-filers tool is a simple, straightforward online form you can use to demonstrate eligibility for your COVID-19 stimulus check and tell the IRS how to deliver your payment.

What if you miss the deadline to use the non-filers tool?

If you miss the deadline to use the non-filers tool, you can still get your coronavirus payment, but you will not be able to receive it this year.

You will have to file a tax return for 2020 when the IRS begins accepting them around the end of January 2021. You'll wait longer for the funds, and submitting a full tax return is more complicated than just using the online tool for non-filers. Still, it's worth the effort to get your $1,200 payment.

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