Most Americans making less than $75,000 or less as an individual (or $150,000 as a couple) should have received two Coronavirus-related U.S. government stimulus payments: An initial payment of $1,200 per person sent sometime last year, and an additional payment of $600 in January.
If you were eligible for these payments but didn’t get them, don’t despair. You may still be able to claim them from the IRS.
Why yours went missing
There may be several reasons why you didn’t receive these payments. First of all, the IRS based eligibility on taxpayers’ 2018 tax returns, many of which contained information that may have changed in 2020.
For example, if someone claimed you as a dependent on their tax returns in 2018, you probably would not have received either payment, even if you were no longer a dependent in 2020.
If you filed your 2018 tax return electronically and had refunds deposited directly into a bank account you’ve closed since then, the stimulus payments might have been sent to that old account and rejected.
Perhaps your check was sent by mail and was delivered to the wrong address. Or maybe you received your payments in the form of debit cards that arrived in envelopes that made them look like junk mail and, like hundreds of other recipients, you inadvertently threw them away.
In any case, if you didn’t receive the stimulus payments you believe you were entitled to, there are ways to find out what happened.
Confirming your eligibility
Start by using the IRS Get My Payment tool (https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/get-my-payment) to find out which payments you were (or weren’t) entitled to and when and in what form—check, online transfer, or debit card--they were sent.
If for one reason or another you never received them, or if your economic status in 2020 should have made you eligible to receive them, you can still claim them. The catch? You have to do so in your tax return.
Claiming a tax credit
On your 2020 IRS Form 1040 or 1040-SR, you’ll be able to claim a Recovery Rebate tax credit for any stimulus payments you should have received. These tax forms will include a special worksheet you can use to determine how much of a tax credit you’re eligible for. Likewise, if you were no longer a dependent in 2020, your updated status should enable you to claim tax credits for both of these payments.
You’ll enter the total amount you’re entitled to on Line 30. It’s critical to make sure that the rest of your tax information is entered correctly, since the IRS will most likely review your entire tax return to validate your claim.
If an accountant or tax professional prepares and files your taxes for you, talk to them first before taking any of these steps. They may be able to conduct the detective work to figure out why you didn’t get your payments and make sure you get the money you’re entitled to.
This article was authored by Dan Flanagan and Jeffrey Briskin. Dan is a financial advisor and Partner located at Canby Financial Advisors, 161 Worcester Road, Framingham, MA 01701. He offers securities and advisory services as an Investment Adviser Representative of Commonwealth Financial Network®, Member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Adviser. He can be reached at 508.598.1082 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Jeffrey Briskin is Director of Marketing at Canby Financial Advisors.
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