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Here’s how to get the stimulus money you haven’t received yet

Published Feb 9th, 2021 1:25PM EST
Stimulus check update
Image: Leigh Prather/Adobe
  • The latest stimulus check update from the IRS should provide some clarity to those of you still waiting on stimulus money you haven’t received yet from last year.
  • Basically, if this includes you, you’ll need to claim a Recovery Rebate Credit when you file your taxes this year — which you can use the IRS’ Free File program to do.
  • This comes as the Biden administration is preparing to send out a third wave of stimulus checks, comprised of $1,400 payments.

Right now, lawmakers are nailing down the final details associated with the new wave of $1,400 stimulus checks that President Biden’s $1.9 trillion economic rescue plan will make possible in as soon as a matter of weeks. The new direct payments are a cornerstone of Biden’s first major legislative priority, and if Democrats get their way then the eligibility for this new wave of checks will be the same as we saw with the checks that came before.

Speaking of those checks that came before — we’ve got a new stimulus check update that will impact a still unfortunately large number of people out there, thanks to how spotty the rollout was for the two previous stimulus check distributions. The Trump administration, remember, approved two waves of direct coronavirus relief payments, one with $1,200 checks that came in early 2020 and then a second wave of $600 stimulus checks that were approved in December. Even though a third wave of stimulus checks is about to get underway, plenty of people might still be waiting on one or both of those previous checks, or they might have incorrectly received a lesser amount than they should have. Either way, here’s what you need to do to fix that.

How to get stimulus money you’re owed: The way you’ll do this is through filing your taxes for 2020, which you’ll want to do as soon as possible now that the IRS has officially announced the opening of the 2021 tax filing season on February 12. Moreover, the IRS is already letting you take advantage of its Free File process and products, so you can get your forms lined up and ready to be submitted to the tax agency at the earliest opportunity.

According to the IRS, the major tax software providers make their online products available for free as part of a 19-year partnership with the agency. There are nine products in English and two in Spanish. Each IRS Free File provider sets their own eligibility rules for products based on age, income and state residency — but, most important to note, for taxpayers who make $72,000 or less, the IRS says they’ll find at least one product that matches their needs, and usually more.

The process:

  • Head over to
  • Use the “Free File Online Look Up” tool for help in finding the right product.
  • Use the “Browse All Offers” tool to review each provider’s offer.
  • Choose a product.
  • Follow links to the provider’s website to begin.

Here’s how the IRS says you’ll use Free File to claim the stimulus money you’re owed, in the form of tax credits: “IRS Free File is all taxpayers need to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit and other tax benefits such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) … For 2021, eligible taxpayers who did not receive the full amount, can claim it as the Recovery Rebate Credit when they file their 2020 tax return.”

Bottom line, claiming the Recovery Rebate Credit when you file your 2020 taxes this year is how you’ll get the stimulus money you’re still owed from the IRS. Additionally, check out this page from the IRS that includes more helpful stimulus-related details you’ll need to know before you file.

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.