Published in: Personal Finance | Sept. 29, 2020
By: Christy Bieber
If you're owed $500 for your dependents, you'll need to act quickly to get the money.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (also known as the CARES Act) authorized payments of $1,200 for each adult and $500 per dependent child under age 17. Most Americans were entitled to this money. It was the IRS’s responsibility to distribute these funds.
Unfortunately, some people didn’t receive the stimulus check for their dependents. If that’s you -- it’s not too late to claim your payment, but you’ll need to act soon.
How did this happen? From the beginning, the IRS didn't have information about everyone who should receive a coronavirus stimulus payment. The agency obtained details about taxpayers and their dependents from tax returns filed in 2018 and 2019. However, not everyone files a return. Many people who receive Social Security benefits, railroad retirement benefits, and pension benefits don't have to submit annual 1040 forms.
Fortunately, the IRS was able to obtain information for recipients of these benefits. They could send stimulus payments even if individuals did not file a tax return in either of the two key years. But unfortunately, the details the Social Security Administration or VA provided did not include any information about dependents.
That means many individuals received their own payment, but not the one due for any children they were entitled to get money for.
The IRS is now trying to ensure beneficiaries of Social Security, veterans benefits, or railroad retirement benefits can get their dependent payments. To do this, however, those beneficiaries need to fill out the form the agency has made available -- and they must do it by tomorrow, Sept. 30, 2020.
Qualifying dependents include children under the age of 17. You'll need to enter information about your children, including their Social Security number(s). Once you provide the details necessary, the IRS will send out your money sometime in mid-October.
If you received your original COVID-19 stimulus payment via direct deposit, your subsequent payment will also come that way. Otherwise, you'll get a check in the mail.
If you fail to act by Sept. 30, you will miss your last opportunity to get the extra $500 per dependent this year. That doesn't mean your money is gone forever, though. These payments were an advance on a tax credit. That means they can be claimed next year by filing a 2020 tax return.
The IRS won't start accepting returns for this tax year until sometime around the end of January 2021, though. And a 1040 is much more complex than the current non-filers form for claiming stimulus money.
It's good news the money isn't gone forever. But don’t miss your opportunity to claim it now, using the simplest approach possible. After all, this money is likely the only additional direct payment you'll receive this year -- division in Washington D.C. has made the chances of another stimulus check unlikely.
While the extra $500 per dependent should help during these troubled times, the money may not be enough to shore up your financial situation if you're struggling during the COVID-19 recession. Take some time to explore other sources of available coronavirus aid; consider a mortgage refinance at today's low rates to reduce monthly obligations; or look into no- or low-interest loan options such as a 0% APR credit card if you're struggling to pay the bills and want time to get back on your feet before getting hit with interest charges.
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