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The IRS sent out the third round of stimulus payments (also known as economic impact payments, or EIPs) to eligible taxpayers from March through December of 2021.
If you believe you qualified for the third payment but didn't receive it, or if you think you received less than you were eligible for, there's some good news. You might be able to claim the funds via the recovery rebate credit when you file your 2021 tax return.
What is the recovery rebate credit?
The recovery rebate credit is a refundable tax credit that can be claimed on your 2021 return if you did not receive your third stimulus check or received the wrong amount.
An important thing to understand about the third stimulus payment is that it was technically an advance on the 2021 tax credit. Because the IRS did not yet have access to your 2021 tax information when the advance payments were sent out, the agency relied on the most recent information they had on file for you (likely your 2020 or 2019 return) to determine how much to send you based on that year's income, number of dependents and other qualifying information.
Who is eligible for the recovery rebate credit?
According to the IRS, most people who were eligible for the third round of payments (and any relevant plus-up payments) have already received their stimulus checks — but there are a few situations why someone might not have received it or received the wrong amount. For example:
You're claiming a new dependent in 2021 (e.g., a child).
Your marital status changed in 2021.
Your adjusted gross income from 2019 or 2020 (whichever one was used by the IRS to calculate the third stimulus amount) was high enough to make you ineligible for a stimulus check, but your 2021 AGI is now lower and within the qualifying threshold.
You did not have a Social Security number but received one by the 2021 tax deadline.
How do I claim the recovery rebate credit?
First, compare the amount you received for the third stimulus check against how much you were eligible for based on your 2021 tax information to determine the difference owed. (See a refresher on the qualifications in the FAQ section below.) If you don't remember the amount you received, you can check the following to see what the IRS has on file for you:
Your online IRS account (most accurate).
Request an IRS transcript.
Review Notice 1444-C (sent after initial dispersal of third payment) & Letter 6475 (sent in early 2022). These physical IRS notices were sent to the address the agency had on file for each taxpayer who received a stimulus payment, and they list the total amount dispersed.
If you think you're eligible for the recovery rebate credit after you crunch the numbers, you can claim it on line 30 of Form 1040 on your 2021 return. Page 59 of the instructions for Form 1040 also has a worksheet to help you calculate how much to claim, and many quality tax-prep software programs will help you to claim the credit if you're eligible.
A word of caution: Do make sure you carefully review the information you supply to the IRS. Math errors or miscalculations can delay your refund. And if you have any doubts about whether you're eligible for the recovery rebate credit or how much you should claim, you can work with a qualified tax professional or tax software to get a better idea. The IRS also has an extensive FAQ section that covers other situations and complexities surrounding the recovery rebate credit.
Stimulus check FAQs
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