January 21, 2022

You can still claim missing incentive funds as of 2021. Here’s how

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Missing incentive money? It’s not too late to get your hands on it.


Most important points:

  • Some people may not have received an incentive check in 2021 despite being eligible.
  • You have the option to claim that money on your 2021 tax return, which is due in April.

The COVID-19 pandemic has a huge financial blow to much people. Fortunately, the government intervened with several rounds of stimulus checks, the most recent of which was approved in March 2021 for up to $1,400.

If that $1,400 check never hits you bank account but you feel you qualify, don’t panic. Even though 2021 is behind us, you can still claim the money you owe if you do one thing.

Make sure to claim your stimulus payment on your taxes

Not everyone is required to file a tax return. For example, lower earners are often exempt. But even if you’re not required to file a tax return, you may want to do one this year if you’re missing out on stimulus funds from 2021.

Between March and December 2021, the IRS was in the process of sending incentive checks to eligible recipients. But you may not have gotten that money for a number of reasons, such as not filing a recent tax return and not registering for an incentive payment as a non-filer.

You may also be eligible for an incentive benefit if your income changed in 2021. Eligibility for those checks was calculated by the IRS based on tax return data it had from 2019 or 2020. But if your income fell in 2021, you might have queued for a payment.

Before the last stimulus check, single taxpayers with adjusted gross incomes of $75,000 or less, and married couples filing joint tax returns with adjusted gross incomes of $150,000 or less, were entitled to a full payment. Singles earning more than $75,000 but less than $80,000 and couples earning more than $150,000 but less than $160,000 were entitled to a partial payment.

If you are single and made $100,000 in 2020, but your income fell to $70,000 in 2021, that means you were entitled to an incentive, but may not have received that money. That’s why it’s important to file tax returns this year and claim the money you owe through the Credit for recovery discount.

In addition, if you had a child in 2021, you may not have received an incentive benefit for your new dependent. And so in that case, you would want to claim that incentive on your 2021 taxes.

When should you file your tax return?

Tax returns are typically not due until mid-April, but usually the IRS starts accepting them in late January. If you’re missing out on stimulus funds, it pays to get your returns in as soon as the IRS allows it. The sooner you file that return, the faster your stimulus payment can be processed.

Keep in mind that your incentive in this case will be in the form of a tax refund. If you owe the IRS money, you may not get your stimulus in full or at all. But if you owe no taxes and were entitled to a full incentive that you never received, a $1,400 windfall could come your way.

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