The 2020 coronavirus pandemic hit the American people and economy very hard.
To help those who likely experienced negative effects from the changed economic situation, federal stimulus funds were sent out twice during the year to certain individuals.
Massive efforts were needed to carry out the government distributions, but some eligible persons were missed. There are ways to fix that.
To qualify for the full stimulus payment, each adult recipient’s 2019 federal adjusted gross income had to be $75,000 or less ($150,000 or less for a married couple).
The first stimulus provided $1200 per adult and $500 per dependent, aged 16 and under, in a household.
The second stimulus payment was for $600 per adult and $600 per dependent (16 and younger).
Over the $75,000/$150,000 qualifying income levels, the stimulus payments were reduced on a prorated basis up to a cut-off point.
On the first payment, single individuals with income of $100,000 or more ($198,000 for a couple) received no stimulus funds. On the second payout, the maximum income was $87,000 for a single person and $174,000 for a couple.
Most eligible Americans received their funds electronically via their checking or savings account. Others were mailed checks.
But some did not receive one or both of the government payments, mainly because of missing address or banking information.
Anyone can check on whether a payment was issued to them by using the Internal Revenue Service website’s special tool called Get My Payment. If IRS records show a payment was already sent, a follow up Payment Trace request can be made.
When appropriate, eligible individuals can receive their missing stimulus funds by filing their 2020 federal income tax return and claiming a Recovery Rebate Credit. Each credit is the same amount as the missing stimulus payment.
Even if no federal tax is owed, a 2020 return must be filed in order to use the Recovery Rebate Credit to claim a refund for the missing amount.
The preparation process for the return will include specifying the stimulus amounts that were not received.
When no federal income tax is owed, the missing stimulus amount will be refunded to the taxpayer.
If some amount of federal taxes is owed, the missing stimulus payment acts as a credit to reduce the tax bill, dollar for dollar, and any balance will be refunded.
For example, Laura did not receive the second stimulus amount of $600 but was eligible for it.
When she prepared her 2020 tax return, Laura owed $85 in federal income taxes. Because of the missing stimulus amount, she will receive a refund from the IRS of $515 ($600 Recovery Rebate Credit less $85 federal taxes owed).
Free assistance for West Virginia residents aged 60 and over on tax or other legal issues is available at 800-229-5068, the West Virginia Senior Legal Aid hotline.
Deb Miller is a volunteer for West Virginia Senior Legal Aid.