The window for claiming a pandemic-driven tax credit is still open to taxpayers who didn’t take advantage of it during the main Covid outbreak. But closing dates are approaching, making filing a claim for eligible taxpayers (tax years 2020 or 2021) a priority for tax preparers.
For a historical background, we have to go back to 2020 as we faced national economic challenges arising from the Covid-19 pandemic. The IRS established the Recovery Rebate Credit to help those taxpayers who may have missed one or more of the Economic Impact Payments – also known as stimulus payments – that were released in 2020 and 2021.
While it is likely that the vast majority of eligible taxpayers have already gotten their Economic Impact Payments directly or by claiming the Recovery Rebate Credit, the IRS is concerned that there are still taxpayers who are due the credit, but haven’t received payment.
Any eligible taxpayers, however, must file a tax return to claim the credit – even if they had little or no income.
Who is Eligible and for How Long?
The Recovery Rebate Credit is available for the 2020 and 2021 tax years.
Taxpayers filing for 2020 must have been a U.S. citizen or resident alien in 2020 and cannot have been a dependent of another taxpayer during the tax year. In addition, qualified taxpayers must have a Social Security number issued before the due date of the tax return that’s valid for U.S. employment.
Taxpayers claiming the 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit must file a tax return by May 17, 2024.
Those taxpayers filing for 2021 must have been a U.S. citizen or resident alien in 2021 and cannot have been a dependent of another taxpayer during that tax year. Additionally for 2021 filers, taxpayers must have a Social Security number issued before the due date of the tax return that’s valid for U.S. employment or claim a dependent with an Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number.
Claims for the 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit must be filed in a federal tax return by April 15, 2025.
The Recovery Rebate Credit can also be claimed on behalf of a taxpayer who has died. The 2020 credit can be claimed for someone who died in 2020, while both the 2020 and 2021 credits can be claimed for someone who died in 2021 or later.
Note that any Recovery Rebate Credit that is received cannot be counted as income when determining one’s eligibility for federal benefits. This includes Supplemental Security Income or SSI; Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP; Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or TANF; or the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, known as WIC.
If someone claims the credit, it has no bearing on their immigration status or their ability to get a green card or other immigration benefits.
Taxpayers who are unsure if they got the Economic Impact Payments can check their IRS Online Account to check for payments and amounts.