Stimulus checks: 9 million people have until November 17 to claim payments

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The IRS last month began alerting 9 million people that they could still claim thousands in stimulus and Child Tax Credit payments. If you are one of those people, you have only one day left to claim the funds, with the tax agency setting a deadline of November 17 to get the money. 

The IRS said it began mailing the letters in mid-October to reach millions of people who haven’t claimed benefits such as stimulus checks, the expanded Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit. 

People who are eligible must file a tax form by Thursday, November 17 to claim the money, the IRS said. 

In disbursing billions of dollars in stimulus payments to help keep households financially afloat during the pandemic, the IRS relied on tax returns to determine eligibility as well as where to send the payments, as tax returns include bank account information or home addresses for mailing the checks. But about 9 million Americans have yet to claim the funds because they didn’t file a 2021 tax return, according to the agency.

The letters will inform people they may be eligible and how to claim the money, the IRS said. 

Who is getting the letters?

The IRS said the 9 million people, who were identified by the Treasury’s Office of Tax Analysis, are those who aren’t required to file taxes because they have very low incomes. Single taxpayers under 65 typically don’t have to file a tax return if they earn less than $12,550 a year, for instance, while that goes up to $14,250 for single people over 65.

What credits are available? 

The people who received the letters may qualify for one or all of the following tax credits:

  • The 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit
  • The Child Tax Credit
  • The Earned Income Tax Credit

What is the 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit?

That’s the official name of the third round of stimulus checks authorized by lawmakers during the pandemic, providing up to $1,400 per eligible person, including qualifying children claimed on a tax return. 

That means a family of four could qualify up to $5,600 in stimulus money, assuming they earn under the income limit for the program. Under the law, the full amount is available to single taxpayers who earn less than $75,000 and married couples who earn less than $150,000. 

Payments are gradually phased out for people who earn above those thresholds.

What is the Child Tax Credit? 

The enhanced Child Tax Credit increased this benefit as high as $3,600 a child in 2021, up from its normal amount of $2,000 per child. The tax credit is aimed at helping parents pay for the cost of raising children.

The IRS sent monthly checks to parents with eligible children for the last six months of 2021, which represented half of the annual credit. The IRS said that families can claim the other half of the credit now even if they received monthly checks in the second half of 2021. 

What is the Earned Income Tax Credit? 

The American Rescue Plan of 2021 also boosted the Earned Income Tax Credit, which has been available for decades and is aimed at helping low-income workers. Prior to the legislation, childless workers between 25 to 64 could only get up to $538, but the pandemic law boosted that to $1,502. 

The law also increased the amount that can be claimed by working families with children, increasing it to as high as $6,728 for parents with three children. 

Most people can claim the EITC if they earn under $21,430 for single taxpayers or $27,380 for married people filing jointly. 

How do I claim these benefits? 

The IRS is urging people who believe they are eligible for the tax credits but haven’t filed a tax return to go ahead and file a return with the tax agency, even if they haven’t yet received a letter from the IRS. But the deadline for filing a return to claim these benefits is Thursday, November 17. 

“The IRS reminds people that there’s no penalty for a refund claimed on a tax return filed after the regular April 2022 tax deadline,” the IRS said. 

There are a few ways people can claim the benefits: 

  • File a return with Free File before November 17, 2022. Free File is available to people who earn less than $73,000. 
  • File a simplified 2021 tax return through GetCTC before November 15, 2022.

The IRS said it urges people to file their tax form electronically and to choose direct deposit in order to get their tax credits as soon as possible.

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