Stimulus Update: Millions of Americans Can Claim More Stimulus Money Starting January 24, 2022

Couple working on taxes.

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It's only a matter of weeks until you could claim more stimulus money.

Key points

  • Some Americans are still owed stimulus payments from 2021.
  • You'll need to file your 2021 tax return to get the unpaid funds.
  • The IRS has announced it will begin accepting 2021 tax returns on Jan. 24, 2022.

In 2021, the federal government provided thousands of dollars in stimulus money to help American families cope with the economic consequences of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Millions of Americans did not yet receive the full amount of this stimulus money. This includes most parents, people who did not file a recent tax return, or people who saw their income fall substantially in 2021 compared with prior years.

Anyone who did not receive their stimulus funds can claim the money by filing a tax return. And the IRS has recently announced that the agency will begin processing 2021 tax returns starting on Monday Jan. 24, 2022. This means if you are owed money, you can take action within the next few weeks in order to obtain it.

How to claim your unpaid stimulus money ASAP

While you have until April 18, 2022 to submit your tax returns for the prior tax year, if you are owed stimulus funds, you may want to act quickly to submit your returns for last year and get your hands on this money as soon as you can.

The IRS has indicated that the fastest way to submit a tax return and obtain a refund is to e-file your return and to request that your refund be directly deposited into your bank account. You can electronically file your tax return for free by taking advantage of these IRS resources. Free e-file using guided tax preparation software is available for lower-income Americans, but anyone with income at any level can obtain free fillable forms on the IRS website.

Once you have submitted your tax return, the IRS typically processes it within 21 days if it was electronically filed. If you have submitted your forms via mail and/or requested a paper check, then it may take around six weeks to get ahold of your refund.

If you are claiming either the Earned Income Tax Credit or the expanded Child Tax Credit, then the law requires the IRS to hold onto your returns for longer. So even if you file you return online ASAP then you may not get your refunded money until the start of March.

You will need to include information on your tax return about any stimulus money you have already received. This includes the $1,400 direct payments that were authorized for adults and dependents by the American Rescue Plan Act. This also includes payments made between July and December for the expanded Child Tax Credit, which provided monthly payments of $300 per child under the age of 6 and $250 per child for children ages 6 to 17.

The IRS will use the information you provide to determine how much stimulus money is owed to you. The stimulus money that you're due can either offset any taxes you owe or will be sent to you as part of any tax refund that you are otherwise entitled to.

The sooner you submit your returns once the IRS begins accepting them on Jan. 24, the sooner the IRS can get your check on the way, so don't hesitate to act.

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