When Is the Deadline to File Taxes For Missing Stimulus Checks?Personal Taxes
So it’s been a while since I’ve used the “stimulus” word — I used that word a lot throughout most of 2020 and into 2021 as well as I was tracking the first three stimulus payments on my YouTube channel.
And then I stopped creating stimulus content because it was clear that there was not going to be a fourth stimulus payment, at least not at the federal level.
But I decided to create another piece of stimulus content here in the fall of 2022 because some people have been reaching out to my tax company, Choice Tax Relief, about filing their taxes to get their missed stimulus payments.
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How to Claim Missing Stimulus Checks on Your Taxes
And this is because — as I probably said two dozen times through 2020 and 2021 — the stimulus payments were simply advance payments of a tax credit called the Recovery Rebate Credit that would be reported on an individual’s 2020 tax return for the $1,200 first stimulus and $600 second stimulus and on an individual’s 2021 tax return for the $1,400 third stimulus.
So if you didn’t get one or both of the first and second stimulus payments or you didn’t get the full amount you were entitled to, you should claim the amount you didn’t receive in stimulus payments on your 2020 tax return through the 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit.
And if you didn’t get the third stimulus payment or you didn’t get the full amount you should have, you should claim the amount you didn’t receive on your 2021 tax return through the 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit.
So you would file your 2020 and/or 2021 tax return(s), claim the Recovery Rebate Credit, and get a refund for that amount in excess of any tax liability you have for the year assuming your Recovery Rebate Credit exceeds your tax liability.
When Is the Deadline to File Taxes for Missing Stimulus Checks?
But there are deadlines to file these returns to claim these missing stimulus payments. And I will tell you what those deadlines are later in this article.
But what really prompted me to make this video is because I’ve seen come content published by some major news sources recently that isn’t the most helpful or at least doesn’t give the complete picture.
The deadline is not in November 2022.
For example, this October 13, 2022, piece from cbsnews.com is titled, “Stimulus checks: 10 million people are still eligible for payments — but have 1 month to claim them.”
So if you were someone who is missing some stimulus payments and you saw this headline and you read the entire article, you would probably walk away thinking you only have until some time in November 2022 to claim your missing stimulus payments.
But that’s not correct. The “one-month” deadline refers to the November 15 shutting down of the getctc.org website, which is a simplified tax filing tool if you don’t have a tax return filing requirement that you can use to claim any unreceived Child Tax Credit amount, Earned Income Tax Credit amount, and third stimulus payment amount for tax year 2021 and the November 17 shutting down of the the IRS Free File program for tax year 2021.
The IRS Free File program is the site where people with incomes of $73,000 or less can file a return online for free through a third-party company like TaxAct.
The deadlines are in 2024 and 2025.
So what are the actual deadlines to file your 2020 and/or 2021 tax return to claim your missing stimulus payments?
Well, the actual deadline to file a return and get a refund for that year is generally three years from the original due date of the return, not including extensions. There’s an exception if you’ve made a payment of tax for that tax year within the past two years, but that exception likely doesn’t apply to most folks out there who only need to file to claim their missing stimulus.
So because the original due date of the 2020 Form 1040 was May 17, 2021 — because the IRS pushed out tax day by a month — you have until three years from that date — so May 17, 2024 — to file your 2020 tax return to claim your refund attributable to the Recovery Rebate Credit for your missing first and/or second stimulus amount.
And because the original due date of the 2021 Form 1040 was April 18, 2022, you have three years from that date — so April 18, 2025 — to file your 2021 tax return to claim your refund attributable to the Recovery Rebate Credit for your missing third stimulus amount.
So the deadline to file for the stimulus checks is May 17, 2024, for the first and second stimulus checks and April 18, 2025, for the third stimulus check.
Now, I will say that your off-the-shelf retail tax software like TurboTax may not be able to file old tax years for you, so you may be stuck either filling out the PDF forms manually or printing out and paper filing or having to reach out to a tax professional like yours truly to file these older returns if you delay too long.
Can My Recovery Rebate Credit Be Offset?
Now, you may be wondering if your Recovery Rebate Credit will be offset for back taxes and for other debts to government agencies.
And the answer to the offset for back taxes — at least federal back taxes — is no; even if you owe back taxes to the IRS, you should still get the amount of your refund, if any, attributable to the Recovery Rebate Credit back in your pocket.
However, if you owe other federal or state government agencies — and yes, that includes your state for back child support, state back taxes, state unemployment insurance fraud debt, etc. — then you could see your refund amount attributable to the Recovery Rebate Credit applied to those debts.
Logan is a practicing CPA and founder of Choice Tax Relief and Money Done Right. After spending nearly a decade in the corporate world helping big businesses save money, he launched his blog with the goal of helping everyday Americans earn, save, and invest more money. Learn more about Logan.