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May 17, 2024, is deadline for nonfilers to claim 2020 COVID cash

The Recovery Rebate Credit also is available until April 15, 2025, for unclaimed 2021 tax year amounts.

Dollar bill covid payment Washington in mask-green

Economic impact payments, or EIPs, issued in 2020 and 2021 helped millions deal with the financial damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, some people didn't get the coronavirus stimulus money to which they were entitled.

These eligible individuals still have a chance to collect the cash by claiming the Recovery Rebate Credit. But time is running out.

The Internal Revenue Service is alerting those who didn't file a 2020 tax return need to complete that form and claim the COVID funds by this May 17.

Three years to file for a refund: Tax law says individuals who are due a federal refund have up to three years from a return's original due date to file it and claim their money.

Tax year 2020 returns were due by May 17, 2021, a month late due to the coronavirus. That makes May 17, 2024, the day the three-year filing window will close on those 2020 unfiled returns and associated Recovery Rebate Credit claims.

The same three-year time frame also applies to unclaimed 2021 COVID stimulus money. Those returns were due April 15, 2022, making April 25, 2025, the deadline to get that return to the IRS.

If you're worried about any penalty for filing late, don't be. Tax penalties are assessed on any tax you owe. If you're filing late to collect a refund, there is no penalty for the late-filed return.

But you must do so within three years of the original filing deadline.

Different EIP amounts: The 2020 and 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit provided a way for people who didn't automatically get an EIP to claim the money.

The refundable tax credit, which mean you get the money as a refund if you don't owe any tax, applied to two EIPs in 2020, and a third in 2021.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that became law in March 2020 provided for up to $1,200 per individual ($2,400 if married filing jointly), plus $500 for each qualifying child you had that year.

The Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021, enacted in late December 2020, provide for a second round of EIP payments. These were up to $600 per taxpayer ($1,200 if married filing jointly), plus $600 for each qualifying child you had in 2020.

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, enacted in March 2021, provided EIPs of up to $1,400 for eligible individuals or $2,800 for married couples filing jointly, plus $1,400 for each qualifying dependent.

Those who didn't get an automatic EIP had to file for the money by claiming the Recovery Rebate Credit for the appropriate 2020 or 2021 tax years.

Credit eligibility: The amounts generally are available to filers who are U.S. citizens or U.S. resident aliens in the respective tax year for which they are making the claim, and who have Social Security numbers that were issued before the tax return's due date.

Credit claimants also cannot be a dependent of another taxpayer.

The IRS also notes that the 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit can be claimed for someone who passed away in 2020 or later.

If you're unsure whether you got stimulus money three (or two) years ago, you can check (or create) an IRS Online Account to see if you got any EIPs years ago.

You also can find more on the tax break and how to claim any funds for which you're eligible the IRS' special Recovery Rebate Credit page.

Don't dally. If you didn't get the coronavirus relief money years ago, and find you were eligible in either 2020 or 2021, then file for the money. Just do so soon.

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