The federal government is in the midst of several massive, complex undertakings at the moment stemming from the coronavirus pandemic that we’ve all been living with for more than a year now — the efforts including, for one thing, a staggeringly large vaccination effort for most of the US population.

On a somewhat related note, the government is also in the final throes of sending out new stimulus checks funded by the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief legislation President Biden signed on March 11. The stimulus checks, generally for $1,400, represent the third such direct payment to Americans since the onset of the pandemic, with the first two such stimulus checks being distributed by the Trump administration. Understandably, there have been hiccups with both of these efforts, given how immense they are and how much bureaucracy is involved — which is cold comfort to the Americans out there who still haven’t received one or both of the Trump stimulus checks from last year.

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For anyone who falls in that bucket, though, here’s what you can do about it.

As we noted in a previous post, the IRS says that anyone who didn’t receive a first or second stimulus check last year, or who got checks for amounts less than they should have, may be eligible for something called the 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit. Those first two checks were essentially advance payments of the credit that you can receive in full by filing a 2020 federal tax return. Which is an important point, because even if you don’t make enough money to normally file a tax return, you have to file one this year in order to claim that credit.

The credit is a way to correct, on the back end, any error in peoples’ stimulus check disbursements (such as not having received one or both of the checks in 2020) so that they receive the full financial benefit from the government’s myriad coronavirus-related emergency legislation.

Here are the steps to follow to actually claim the credit:

  • Fill out Line 30 of your Form 1040 or 1040-SR. You’ll claim the credit there — but first check out this worksheet from the IRS that will help walk you through what to fill in.
  • Remember what we said earlier — you’ll need to input how much stimulus money you’ve already received, because the amount of your rebate here will be lessened by that amount (If you don’t do it, the IRS will do it for you).
  • The rebate will come to you in the form of a tax refund, unless you end up owing money. In which case the rebate will decrease the amount of tax you owe after preparing your 2020 refund. And any refund, it should go without saying, will be sent to you via the information the IRS has on file for you, such as by direct deposit if the tax agency has your banking details.

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Andy is a reporter in Memphis who also contributes to outlets like Fast Company and The Guardian. When he’s not writing about technology, he can be found hunched protectively over his burgeoning collection of vinyl, as well as nursing his Whovianism and bingeing on a variety of TV shows you probably don’t like.