Missing the November 21st deadline to register for a stimulus check doesn’t mean you won’t receive … (+)
November 21 was the IRS deadline for individuals who do not normally file a federal tax return to register for a stimulus check through its non-filer portal. While the date has passed, individuals who failed to register should not despair as they will still be able to claim their economic impact payments in 2021.
9 Million Non-Filers Eligible For $1,200 Stimulus Checks
160 million Americans received their first stimulus check months ago, many with little to no effort. Most of these individuals received their payments based off of federal income tax returns that they filed in 2018 or 2019. For those who don’t normally file a federal tax return, the IRS created a non-filer tool on its website to allow eligible individuals to quickly register and receive their stimulus checks. In a recent report, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) noted that over 5.4 million non-filers had successfully registered and received stimulus checks as of September 30, 2020; however, as many as nine million more may have been entitled to an economic impact payment, but did not register to receive it.
IRS Created A Non-Filer Stimulus Check Tool
To streamline the process, the IRS created a non-filer tool to allow individuals to register for their stimulus payments for free. Individuals needed to enter information and could choose to receive their payment electronically via direct deposit or as a paper check by mail. The tool was designed specifically for Americans who don’t normally file a tax return because they were filing as an individual with income of less than $12,220, married filing jointed with income less than $24,400, or because they had no income.
The IRS had originally indicated a deadline of October 15, 2020 to register using the non-filer tool, but eventually extended the deadline to November 21, 2020 to provide more time for individuals to apply. It also send out letters to the roughly nine million individuals urging them to use the tool and receive their stimulus payment. “The IRS has made an unprecedented outreach effort to make sure people are aware of their potential eligibility for an Economic Impact Payment this year,” IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said in a press release. “We took this step (sending letters) to provide more time for those who have not yet received a payment to register to get their money, including those in low-income and underserved communities,” he added.
The GAO report, which was issued on November 30th, recommended that the IRS and Treasury track and publicly report on the number of individuals who received a letter and subsequently filed for and received a stimulus payment. The report notes that Treasury agreed with the recommendation.
How To Claim Your Stimulus Payment Now
For eligible Americans who missed the November 21 deadline, there’s good news and bad news. The good news is that you will still be able to claim your stimulus payment. The bad news is that you’ll have to wait until 2021 and take extra steps to get your payment.
To claim stimulus payments, which the IRS calls Economic Impact Payments or the Recovery Rebate Credit, individuals will need to file a tax return in 2021. Specifically, the IRS has indicated that people should file a 2020 Form 1040 or 1040SR to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit.
Most individuals who missed the November 21 deadline to register on the IRS non-filer tool will be eligible to file their 2020 tax return using the IRS Free File program. The program allows individuals to prepare and file your federal income tax online for free. Individuals will be able to utilize the IRS Free File program for their 2020 taxes if they make less than $72,000.
Some people who needed to register for stimulus checks using the non-filer tool may not have a lot of experience or feel comfortable navigating the IRS Free File Program. Those individuals may be able to take advantage of the IRS’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, in which volunteers help prepare free basic tax returns for qualified individuals. “VITA/TCE services are not only free, they are also a reliable and trusted source for preparing tax returns,” according to the IRS. “All VITA/TCE volunteers who prepare returns must take and pass tax law training that meets or exceeds IRS standards.” While many VITA sites temporarily closed due to the Covid-19 outbreak, hopefully it will be safe for some to reopen in time for filing taxes in 2021.
Missing the November 21st deadline to register for a stimulus check doesn’t mean you won’t receive the payment. Individuals will still be able to claim their economic impact payments, but will need to wait until 2021 and will need to file a tax return.