by Dana George | Updated July 25, 2021 - First published on Jan. 16, 2021
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If you're still waiting on your stimulus check to arrive, here are two things you can do.
On Dec. 21, 2020, Congress passed COVID-19 relief legislation, promising $600 checks to eligible recipients. In an effort to get the money into Americans' bank accounts quickly, Congress gave the IRS until yesterday, Jan. 15, 2021, to distribute the funds.
If you haven't received your stimulus check yet, first make sure you meet the criteria. Here's a breakdown of who should expect to receive $600 checks:
For those who earned more in 2019, the check's size gradually decreases by $5 for every $100 earned over the maximum threshold.
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If you meet the criteria for receiving the second stimulus payment but haven't seen that money yet, here's what you should do.
Since the final checks were scheduled for distribution yesterday, check your bank account over the next few days to see if your stimulus money has arrived. If the IRS mailed your first check rather than deposited it directly into your checking or savings account, give the USPS up to two weeks to deliver your check or prepaid debit card. Keep an eye out for a nondescript, white envelope that could easily be mistaken for junk mail.
The IRS just announced that it would begin processing 2020 tax returns on Feb. 12. If you are due a stimulus check but haven't received the money by the time you file, claim it on your return. Line 30 on the 1040 tax form allows you to let the IRS know that you didn't receive your funds.
If you're owed a refund on 2020 taxes, the IRS will add the stimulus money to the amount you're due to receive. If you owe money on 2020 taxes, the IRS will subtract the stimulus money from the amount you need to pay. For example, if you're due $1,200 in stimulus funds but owe $1,500, the IRS will keep the $1,200 as a payment toward your total tax bill, and you will owe $300.
Given the push for a third stimulus check and President-elect Biden's call to get more money into the hands of hurting Americans, it's likely there will be a third round of checks distributed in the next few months. We don't know precisely how much that check will be or if Congress will change the qualifications, but it could be smart to keep a third round of checks in mind as you decide when to file your 2020 tax return. Here's why: As they did with the first two rounds of stimulus payments, the IRS is likely to use the most recent tax return they have on file for you to determine your eligibility.
So if you earned less in 2019 than you did in 2020, you might want to hold off filing your 2020 taxes until the third check is distributed. On the other hand, if you earned less in 2020 than you did in 2019, you may want to file your taxes as soon as possible.
Additionally, if you are due a tax refund, consider having it directly deposited into your bank account. Doing so could shave weeks off the time it takes to receive the money.
The bottom line is this: If you are due a stimulus check but have yet to receive it, don't worry. The money will make its way to you, even if you have to claim it on your 2020 taxes. In the meantime, coronavirus resources can help get you through until you're on your feet.
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