If you have not received your stimulus check yet, chances are you will need to claim it on your 2020 tax return. The process is relatively simple, but you need to know what you're looking for to make sure you get the money you're entitled to. You will need to claim the Recovery Rebate Tax Credit in your filings.
If you have not received the first or second stimulus check yet, be sure to go over the eligibility requirements carefully to find out if you are truly eligible. The IRS had just over two weeks to distribute the second check, so many people were entitled to a check but did not get one. If that's the case, you will need to use either the 2020 Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR, which will ensure that you receive your missing stimulus funds as part of your 2020 tax refund.
The IRS has not outlined specific details for this rebate process yet has published a sample worksheet to show how it should look. This sheet is also meant to help taxpayers determine their eligibility and select the right forms. So far, the agency has not published a finalized version of this sheet, leaving many taxpayers frustrated as they cannot claim their check or file their rebate.
It is important to confirm your eligibility and payment status before filing these forms, as there are other ways of claiming your money if your situation is slightly different. If you received a message from the IRS saying that your check was on the way, or the IRS says that your payment was sent on the "Get My Payment" website, then you may need to start a payment trace before filing for a rebate.
From there, claiming the rebate will be different for different kinds of taxpayers. Those who are not usually required to file taxes due to low income, retired people and social security beneficiaries will need to file taxes this year to claim the rebate. Meanwhile, those who typically owe money to the U.S. government — freelancers and gig workers — will have their missing stimulus check deducted from their debt rather than receiving a payment.
If you are filing taxes and claiming the rebate, experts say it is best to file as early as possible so that the IRS can get right to work processing your payments. The agency will begin processing tax returns on Feb. 12, so ideally, you should send your documents in before then and be among the first to be considered. Of course, many are waiting for the final version of the rebate worksheet listed above to get their returns in.
Note that the deadline for filing our taxes this year is April 15, and the IRS has not yet extended it as it did last spring due to the coronavirus pandemic. Check the IRS' website, including its news release section, for the latest updates on stimulus checks and recovery rebates.