You Could Miss Out on a Stimulus Check If You Don’t Do This by Oct. 15

Millions of U.S. adults were eligible for three different stimulus checks amid the COVID pandemic, with the federal government offering payments up to $600, $1,200, and $1,400. And though many received two of these payments in 2020 and one earlier this year, some people may have missed one or more checks they were eligible for, or received less money than they should have. The IRS has allowed people time to retroactively collect those missed payments, but unfortunately the deadline to claim this money is coming up fast. Read on to find out what you need to do before Oct. 15 to make sure you received all the money you were eligible for from the federal government.

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Your last chance to claim a 2020 stimulus check is Oct. 15.

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If you don’t claim your 2020 stimulus check by Oct. 15, you could miss out on it entirely. According to CNBC, taxpayers who did not receive either of the first two stimulus payments or received less money than they should have can claim the rest of their money through the Recovery Rebate Credit on their 2020 returns. The last date to file this tax return is Oct. 15 for people who filed a tax extension form before the initial May 17, 2021 tax return deadline.

“For anyone who missed out on the first two rounds of stimulus payments, it’s not too late. People who didn’t get a first and second Economic Impact Payment or got less than the full amounts can get that missing money if they’re eligible for it, but they need to act soon,” the IRS said in a Sept. 16 statement. “People who wait too long to file and claim a refund, risk losing it altogether.”

There are a few groups of people who may have more time.

Shot of a young woman using a laptop and going through paperwork while working from homeShot of a young woman using a laptop and going through paperwork while working from home
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The IRS notes two groups of people who could have more time after the Oct. 15 extension deadline to file their 2020 tax returns: members of the military and taxpayers in federally declared disaster areas. Military members and others serving in a combat zone “typically have 180 days after they leave the combat zone to file returns and pay any taxes due,” the agency says. In terms of disaster areas, taxpayers here who already had valid extensions may have more time. These areas include certain parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York that were affected by Hurricane Ida.

Mark Steber, chief tax information officer at Jackson Hewitt, also explained to CNBC that while Oct. 15 is seen as the “timely” manner to file based on extension, the IRS technically gives taxpayers up to three years after the due date of their return to file and receive a refund. “This means you can file your return and receive your Recovery Rebate Credit through April 15, 2024,” Steber said. But the IRS encourages taxpayers to file their 2020 returns before the end of 2021, as late penalties may be enacted if no extension was granted.

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You may also miss out on your full Child Tax Credit if you don’t file.

Man holding his son and working with laptop at homeMan holding his son and working with laptop at home
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You might also be missing out on Child Tax Credit payments if you have not filed your 2020 tax returns yet. According to the IRS, million of Americans are currently receiving this credit but for those who have not filed the latest returns, the credit amount is being determined by their 2019 tax information.”The IRS urges people who requested an extension to file as soon as possible if they experienced a major change such as the birth of a child in 2020,” the agency said, as you would be eligible for a higher credit.

“Once that return is processed, the IRS can calculate the credit based on the 2020 return and pay it out in full over the remaining months in 2021,” the IRS added. “Those who file and have their 2020 return processed on or before November 1, may be eligible for two payments of half the credit in 2021. Similarly, people who file and have their return processed on or before November 29, may be eligible for one payment.”

The IRS recommends people submit their returns electronically.

Cropped shot of a handsome young man using a laptop and a credit card to shop online while sitting on his couch at homeCropped shot of a handsome young man using a laptop and a credit card to shop online while sitting on his couch at home
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If you are filing a 2020 tax return soon, the IRS recommends doing so electronically. According to the IRS, its free file service will remain available through Oct. 15 for taxpayers who still need to file their 2020 tax returns. This service offers free online tax preparation and filing options to certain taxpayers.

“Taxpayers who requested the six-month filing extension should complete their tax returns and file on or before the Oct. 15 deadline,” the agency says. If you wait, the IRS Free File will no longer be available, as only the current year’s returns can be filed with the service. The IRS also advises that you choose direct deposit if you are meant to be owed a refund, like the 2020 economic payments.

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