2021 Recovery Rebate Credit — Topic B: Claiming the 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit if you aren’t required to file a tax return

 

These FAQs were released to the public in Fact Sheet 2022-04 PDF, January 13, 2022.

If you didn't get the full amount of the third Economic Impact Payment, you may be eligible to claim the 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit and must file a 2021 tax return – even if you don't usually file taxes - to claim it. Your 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit will reduce any tax you owe for 2021 or be included in your tax refund.

If your income is $73,000 or less, you can file your federal tax return electronically for free through the IRS Free File Program. The fastest way to get your tax refund is to  file electronically  and have it direct deposited, contactless and free, into your financial account. You can have your refund direct deposited into your bank account, prepaid debit card or mobile app and will need to provide routing and account numbers.

If you didn't get the full amounts of the first and second Economic Impact Payments, you may be eligible to claim the 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit and must file a 2020 tax return – even if you don't usually file taxes - to claim it.

A1. If you're eligible – and either didn't qualify for a third Economic Impact Payment or got less than the full amount – you'll need to file a 2021 tax return to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit even if you otherwise are not required to file a tax return.

The best way to file a complete and accurate 2021 tax return is to file electronically. The tax preparation software will ask you questions about your income, credits and deductions and will help you figure your 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit.

If your income is $73,000 or less, you can use brand-name software to prepare and file your Federal tax return electronically for free with IRS Free File. IRS Free File is a great option for people who are only filing a tax return – even if you don't usually file taxes - to claim the 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit.

Visit IRS.gov/filing for details about IRS Free File, Free File Fillable Forms or finding a trusted tax professional.

The safest and fastest way to get a tax refund (which would include your Recovery Rebate Credit) is to combine electronic filing with direct deposit.

A2. If you're eligible – and either didn't receive the full amount of the third Economic Impact Payment or if you think you qualify for a Recovery Rebate Credit that is more than the amount of the third Economic Impact Payment you received – you'll need to file a 2021 tax return to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit even if you otherwise are not required to file a tax return.

The best way to file a complete and accurate 2021 tax return is to file electronically in 2022. The tax preparation software will ask you questions about your income, credits and deductions and will help you figure your 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit.

If your income is $73,000 or less, you can use brand-name software to prepare and file your Federal tax return electronically for free with IRS Free File. IRS Free File is a great option for people who are only filing a tax return – even if you don't usually file taxes - to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit.

Visit IRS.gov/filing for details about IRS Free File, Free File Fillable Forms or finding a trusted tax professional.

The safest and fastest way to get a tax refund (which would include your Recovery Rebate Credit) is to combine electronic filing with direct deposit.

A3. If you file electronically, the tax preparation software will ask you for specific information. No matter how you file, you will need to do the following to claim the 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit:

  • Compute the 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit amount using tax preparation software, or the line 30 worksheet found in 2021 Form 1040 and Form 1040-SR Instructions.
  • Enter the computed amount from the worksheet onto line 30, Recovery Rebate Credit, of your 2021 Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR.

Reminder: Complete direct deposit information on line 35b-35d or check the box on line 35a and complete Form 8888 if you want to split your refund for deposit into more than one account or buy a U.S. Savings Bond. Direct deposit is the safest and fastest way to receive your refund. If you don't choose direct deposit, a paper check will be mailed to you. See FAQ B7. How can I get a direct deposit if I don't have a bank account?

Free tax return preparation is also available for those who qualify.

A4. Yes, you may be eligible to claim additional tax credits if you have earned income and include all your income with the information about a spouse or any dependents on your tax return. Filing your 2021 tax return electronically is the fastest and most accurate way for you to file. If your income is $73,000 or less, you can use brand-name software to prepare and file your Federal tax return electronically for free with IRS Free File. You can also file electronically with commercial tax preparation software. The tax preparation software will ask you questions about your income, credits and deductions and will help you figure your 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit and any other credits that may apply to you.

A5. When preparing your taxes and filing electronically, you must sign and validate your electronic tax return by entering your prior-year Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) or your prior-year Self-Select PIN. 

  • If you successfully used the Non-Filers tool last year to register for an advance Child Tax Credit payment or claim a 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit, enter "$1" as the prior year AGI verification.
  • If you did not use the Non-Filers tool last year and you did not file an electronic or a paper 2020 Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR, you should enter "$0" as the prior year AGI verification.
  • If you filed an electronic or a paper 2020 Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR, enter the AGI amount from line 11 of the submitted 2020 Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR as the prior year AGI verification.

A6. Yes. IRS Free File online is especially valuable for people who do not have a tax filing obligation. These are people whose taxable income is below certain income levels. For example, single people with income below $12,550, the amount of the standard deduction, would have no filing obligation if they had no other special tax issues.

Eligible individuals who did not get a third Economic Impact Payment or got less than the full amount, must file a 2021 tax return – even if they do not usually file a tax return - to claim the 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit.

Even if you don't have a computer, you can access IRS Free File and file your tax return on your smart phone.

Here's how it works if you do not have a 2021 tax filing requirement and file in 2022:

  1. Go to IRS.gov/freefile.
  2. Select "Choose an IRS Free File Offer" blue button.
  3. Select "Browse all offers" and look for a product that has no minimum income requirement.
  4. Select the product that best meets your needs, and you will be automatically redirected to the company's website.
  5. Answer the tax product questions to complete your tax return, accurately report your taxable income, if any.
  6. If you have no taxable income, simply answer the questions including those requesting information needed to compute the 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit.
  7. Complete the information for your refund, sign the tax return electronically and file the tax return electronically.

Individuals who do not have a tax filing obligation who use IRS Free File may find they are eligible for additional tax benefits such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, or EITC. Free File uses easy interview-based software products to walk you through the tax filing process step-by-step to help ensure you get all the tax benefits you are due.

A7. Filing electronically and having your refund sent via direct deposit is the fastest and safest way to receive your money.

If you don't have a bank account, visit the FDIC website or the National Credit Union Association using their Credit Union Locator Tool for information on where to find a bank or credit union that can open an account online and how to choose the right account for you.

If you are a veteran, see the Veterans Benefits Banking Program (VBBP) for access to financial services at participating banks.

If you have a prepaid debit card, you may be able to have your refund applied to the card. Many reloadable prepaid cards or mobile payment apps have account and routing numbers that you could provide to the IRS. You would need to check with the financial institution to ensure your card can be used and to obtain the routing number and account number, which may be different from the card number.

Note: Any previously issued Economic Impact Payment debit card is not a reloadable card.

A8. Most eligible people already received their 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit in advance as third Economic Impact Payments, including those who successfully used the Non-Filers tool. We used the information you entered in the Child Tax Credit Non-Filer Sign-up Tool to calculate and send to eligible people the Third Economic Impact Payment.

If you didn't qualify for a third Economic Impact Payment or got less than the full amount and would like to know if you're eligible for the 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit, see FAQ Eligibility Requirements: What are the  eligibility requirements for the credit?

A9. When you file your 2021 tax return, your tax preparation software or the line 30 worksheet found in the 2021 Form 1040 and Form 1040-SR Instructions can help you figure your Recovery Rebate Credit amount. You will need to know the amount of your third Economic Impact Payment and any plus-up payments. Log into your Online Account to look up these amount(s) or you may also refer to the Notice 1444-C, Your Third Economic Impact Payment. In early 2022, we'll send Letter 6475 confirming the total amount of the third Economic Impact Payment and any plus-up payments you received for tax year 2021.

If you figure your 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit incorrectly, the IRS will calculate the credit for you only if you do not enter $0 or leave line 30 of your 2021 Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR blank. Otherwise, we'll make the correction to your tax return and continue processing your return. The IRS will not contact you before making this correction, and you will not be required to provide any additional information.

If we need to correct your return, it may take longer to process, which may also slow your tax refund. We will send you a notice explaining any change made to your return. See Topic H: Correcting issues after the 2021 tax return is filed for more information.

DO NOT file an amended tax return.

A10. The IRS will not calculate and correct your entry if you enter $0 or leave the line blank for the Recovery Rebate Credit. Instead, the IRS will treat your entry of $0 or blank as your decision not to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit.

See Topic H: Correcting issues after the 2021 tax return is filed for more information.