Published in: Personal Finance | Sept. 24, 2020
By: Christy Bieber
You can still get your hands on the money, but time is running out!
As the chances of a second stimulus check wane, millions of Americans are still owed a first COVID-19 payment.
Some of those individuals have received no payment at all. If they didn't file tax returns in 2018 or 2019, the IRS may not have been able to find them. Others may have gotten partial payments because the IRS obtained their information from the Social Security Administration (SSA) or the VA. But since they didn't file recent tax returns to declare their dependents, they missed out on some of what they were owed.
If you are missing all or part of your coronavirus stimulus payment, you still have time to act -- but the deadline is fast approaching. In fact, if you haven't received payments for your dependents, you have until Sept. 30 to submit your information. If you haven't received your $1,200 COVID-19 payment at all, you need to complete an online form by Oct. 15.
Missing these deadlines could mean you'd have to fill out a 2020 tax return to get those funds. And that won't happen until at least January 2021. And since not filing tax returns is the reason most of those individuals have not yet been paid, they likely won't want to file for this year either. That means now is the time to take action.
The CARES Act that authorized the first COVID-19 payment provided $1,200 for adults and $500 per dependent under the age of 17. Americans with incomes below $75,000 for singles and $150,000 for married couples qualified, with payments phasing out at $5 per extra $100 above these limits.
The IRS determined who was eligible based on 2018 or 2019 tax returns, or benefit information from the VA or the SSA. But while the VA and SSA could offer income and payment details, they did not know which beneficiaries had dependents that entitled them to the extra $500.
People had until May 5 to register their dependents online, and many missed out on this money. But the non-filer online portal is now open again and those with eligible dependents need to act by Sept. 30. Fill in your information and you'll receive the extra money you're owed in October.
If you did not file a 2018 or 2019 return and you don't get benefits from the SSA or VA, then the IRS won't have your payment details -- unless you submitted them online.
The IRS still wants to make sure you get your payment, so you now have another chance to provide your details. Visit the online portal and give the agency the information needed to provide your COVID relief funds. But you must take action prior to Oct. 15.
If you miss the deadline applicable to your situation, all is not lost. The stimulus payments are technically an advance on a tax credit, so you can still submit a 2020 tax return next year and get any COVID-19 money owed to you.
Filing a tax return is, however, much more complicated than using the simple online form to give the IRS your details. You can avoid unnecessary hassle if you visit the non-filer portal prior to the Sept. 30 or Oct. 15 deadlines.
If you've experienced a reduction in income, you could use that money to cover costs and stay afloat. You could also use your stimulus check to pay down debt, or even invest for the future.
There are other alternatives to make ends meet, such as dipping into your savings or taking out a low-interest personal loan. You could even use a 0% APR credit card to cover the bills temporarily without owing interest until the promotional period ends. But taking on unnecessary debt should only ever be a last resort -- especially you have unclaimed money on the table.
A second stimulus check looks increasingly unlikely, so don't miss out on money the government authorized you to receive. Act quickly to claim your funds before it's too late.
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