Last month, the IRS reported that millions of eligible people have yet to properly claim their COVID relief payments. The IRS uses tax returns to determine eligibility for both pandemic stimulus checks and child tax credits, and unfortunately, those who need the relief most—such as people with lower incomes, limited internet access, or who are experiencing homelessness—are often the least likely to have filed their taxes. Here’s what you can do to take action before this week’s deadline for claiming your stimulus and/or child tax credit payments.
If you didn’t file taxes in 2022
You may not have filed a federal income tax return this part April if your income was below a certain amount. However, you need to file in order to claim any sort of refundable tax credit.
Again, this week’s deadline applies to people who are not typically required to file taxes—like if you earn less than $12,550 per year and file as a single taxpayer.
If you do typically file taxes, your extended deadline was on Oct. 17, so you should have already filed by now. If you live in an area covered by Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster declarations, you have until Tuesday, Nov. 15 (today) to file your return. If you were affected by a recent natural disaster, such as Hurricane Ian, you have until Feb. 15, 2023.
What payment amounts are you eligible for?
The Nov. 17 deadline is for claiming both missing stimulus check and qualifying child tax credit payments. Here’s a rundown of pandemic stimulus amounts:
First stimulus check: $1,200, sent in April 2020.
Second stimulus check: $600, sent in December 2020.
Third stimulus check: $1,400, sent in March 2021.
The child tax credit—a benefit designed to help taxpayers support their families—was greatly expanded for the 2021 tax year by the American Rescue Plan Act. Eligible families should have received up to $3,600 per child, or up to $1,800 per child if you received monthly payments in 2021.
Here’s everything else you might need to know about claiming your child tax credit. For answers to more questions, like what to do if you don’t have a bank account or share custody of a child, check out this explainer from The 19th and the IRS’s child tax credit fact sheet.
If you did file taxes, but are still missing payments
If you filed taxes in 2021, you should’ve already received the money from the first two rounds of stimulus checks. If you filed your taxes and still never received your stimulus or child tax credit money, here are some potential reasons those payments never arrived:
You don’t have a bank account set up.
It was your first time filing.
You have a mixed-status household.
You haven’t updated your address with the IRS or USPS.
You’re experiencing homelessness.
You have limited or no internet access.
What you can do now is file a payment trace with the IRS, either by calling 800-919-9835 or mailing in Form 3911. Here’s our guide to actually getting through to a real human at the IRS so that you can get the money you’re owed.
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