Stimulus Check Update: Here's What to Know if You're Claiming a Stimulus Check on Your Taxes

by Christy Bieber | Updated July 25, 2021 - First published on April 13, 2021

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Stack of 100 dollar bills next to a coronavirus stimulus check.

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Claiming your stimulus check on your tax return? Here's what you need to know.

In March, President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act into law and authorized the distribution of a third stimulus check. The IRS has distributed more than 156 million of these payments and is continuing to steadily deposit money into people's bank accounts or mail out checks.

If you haven't yet received your third check, you can use the IRS's Get My Payment tool to determine when your money will arrive.

If you didn't receive either the first or second check, though, the IRS will no longer send the payment to you automatically. You are going to have to claim it by filing your 2020 taxes if you didn't receive your money. Here's what you should know about this process.

Claiming your stimulus check on a tax return

If you didn't receive the full amount of stimulus payments that were authorized in 2020, you'll need to use Line 30 of the 1040 (or 1040-SR) form in order to request your money.

When you request the outstanding stimulus payments, you'll need to know how much you are entitled to receive. The IRS instructions accompanying the 1040 form include a worksheet that can help you to figure that out. If you are filing your taxes using tax-filing software, the software should be able to guide you through this process.

In order to calculate the amount of stimulus money you're owed, you will need to know how much you have already received (if anything). You can sign into your IRS account (or create one) to see how much you have been paid already in order to correctly determine your outstanding balance.

The IRS should have also sent you two documents detailing the amount of your payments: Notice 1444 which provides information on your first payment and Notice 1444-B which shows how much your second payment was for.

Once you've calculated your credit and submitted a tax return requesting the unpaid funds, the IRS will also calculate the amount of the credit they believe you are due. If the amount you requested in stimulus funds doesn't match up with what the agency expects to pay, this can result in a small delay in the processing of your refund.

If the IRS adjusts the amount of stimulus money you'll receive after you've filed your returns, you will receive a letter from the agency explaining the discrepancy and why the IRS corrected the amount.

The IRS will pay out the amount they have determined you are due, which could result in you receiving a larger tax refund. If you owe money on your taxes, then the stimulus payment you're owed could be used to reduce your outstanding IRS bill. If you are due a refund and want to get the money as quickly as possible, make sure the IRS has your direct deposit info.

The IRS has extended the deadline to file 2020 taxes until May 17, 2021 so you'll have until that date to file your return and claim your unpaid stimulus funds from the bills passed last year. You cannot claim your third check this way, though, and most people shouldn't need to since the IRS is still in the process of mailing out the third payments to eligible Americans.

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