2021 Recovery Rebate Credit — Topic F: Receiving the Credit on a 2021 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 amount 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. DO NOT include any information regarding the first and second Economic Impact Payments or the 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit on your 2021 tax return.

A1. If you didn’t qualify for the third Economic Impact Payment or did not receive the full amount, you may be eligible to claim the 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit based on your 2021 tax information.

If you are eligible for the 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit, the credit amount will reduce the amount of tax you owe for 2021. If more than the tax you owe, it will be included as part of your 2021 tax refund.  It will not be issued separately.

You will receive your 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit included in your refund after your 2021 tax return is processed.

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.

You can check the status of your refund under Where’s My Refund? Generally, you will receive your refund within 3 weeks if you file electronically or 8 weeks if you mail your return. If the IRS identifies an error in your calculation for this (or anything else reported on your return), it could cause a delay while we make any necessary corrections.

A2. The 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit amount will not be applied to past due federal income tax debts.

Generally, tax refunds are applied to tax you owe on your return or your outstanding federal income tax liability. If you claim a 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit, and your return reflects a tax refund – the refund amount associated with the 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit will not be applied to a federal income tax liability.

A3. Yes, the 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit can be reduced to pay debts owed to other Federal government agencies (separate from federal income tax debt) as well as to state agencies. Keep in mind that the credit is part of your tax refund and your tax refund is subject to any offset.

A4. Your 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit will reduce any tax you owe for 2021 or be included in your tax refund.

The most accurate way for you is to file is electronically where the tax preparation software will help you figure your 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 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit Worksheet in the 2021 Form 1040 and Form 1040-SR instructions can also help determine if you are eligible for the credit.

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.

A5. Claiming the 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit on your tax return will not delay the processing of your tax return. However, it is important that you claim the correct amount. Any errors in the credit amount on your tax return will be corrected, unless you entered $0 or left the line blank for the Recovery Rebate Credit.  If you are due a refund it may be delayed while we make any necessary corrections.

To figure the credit amount, you will need to know the amount(s) of any third Economic Impact Payments you received. Log into your online account to find your third Economic Impact Payment amounts. You may also refer to Notice 1444-C, Your Third Economic Impact Payment, which shows the amount of the third 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 in 2021. See: Where can I find the amount of my Third Economic Impact Payment? 

The fastest and most accurate way for you is to file is electronically where the tax preparation software will help you figure your Recovery Rebate Credit. Visit IRS.gov/filing for details about IRS Free File, Free File Fillable Forms, free VITA or TCE tax preparation sites in your community or finding a trusted tax professional. The Recovery Rebate Credit Worksheet in the 2021 Form 1040 and Form 1040-SR instructions can also help determine if you are eligible for the credit.

Your 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit will reduce any tax you owe for 2021 or be included in your tax refund.

A6. You may be able to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit if you can establish in writing that the return was signed under duress, your signature was forged, the return was filed without your consent, or you were not legally married at the end of the year on which the third payment was based. We issued the third payments based on information from your 2020 tax return, or, if that wasn’t available, your 2019 return.  

To show that you could not resist your spouse’s demands and signed under duress, you can provide written documentation to support your claim that the joint election was invalid. You may submit a separate return for the prior year if you had a filing requirement or provide a statement signed and sworn under penalties of perjury that you didn’t need to file a tax return for the prior year or that the return was filed without your consent.

A7. No, if you qualified for a third payment based on your 2019 or 2020 tax return, the law doesn’t require you to pay back all or part of the payment you received based on the information reported on your 2021 tax return.

A8. If you received your third payment by check and it was lost, stolen or destroyed, you should request a payment trace so the IRS can determine if your payment was cashed. See How do I request a payment trace to track my third Economic Impact Payments?

A9. If your payment was issued as a direct deposit and it is more than 5 days after the payment date, your first step is to check with your bank and make sure they didn't receive a deposit. Do not check with your bank prior to 5 days because they may not have any information.

You should only request a payment trace to track your payment if a payment was issued to you and you have not received it within the timeframes below. IRS assistors cannot initiate a payment trace unless it has been:

  • 5 days since the deposit date and the bank says it hasn't received the payment
  • 4 weeks since the payment was mailed by check to a standard address
  • 6 weeks since the payment was mailed, and you have a forwarding address on file with the local post office
  • 9 weeks since the payment was mailed, and you have a foreign address

Note: If you have a foreign address, there may be international service disruptions at the United States Postal Service (USPS) or the foreign country you are in due to the COVID-19 pandemic. See the USPS Service Alerts page and check with your local consulate for more information.

Do not request a payment trace to determine if you were eligible for a payment or to confirm the amount of payment you should have received.

How we process your claim

We'll process your claim for a missing payment in one of two ways:

  • If the check was not cashed, we will issue you a new one. If you find the original check after receiving a new payment, you must return the original as soon as possible.
  • If the check was cashed, the Treasury Department's Bureau of the Fiscal Service will send you a claim package that includes a copy of the cashed check. Follow the instructions. The Treasury Department's Bureau of the Fiscal Service will review your claim and the signature on the canceled check before determining whether the payment can be reversed and a new payment should be issued.

To start a payment trace:

Reminder: DO NOT request a trace prior to the timeframes above. IRS assistors cannot start a trace prior to those timeframes.

To complete the Form 3911:

  • Write "EIP3" on the top of the form to identify the payment you want to trace.
  • Complete the form answering all refund questions as they relate to your Economic Impact Payment.
  • When completing item 7 under Section 1:
    • Check the box for "Individual" as the Type of return
    • Enter "2021" as the Tax Period
    • Do not write anything for the Date Filed
  • Sign the form. If you file married filing joint, both spouses must sign the form.

You will generally receive a response 6 weeks after we receive your request for a payment trace, but there may be delays due to limited staffing. Get up-to-date status on affected IRS operations and services. Do not mail Form 3911 if you have already requested a trace by phone.

  • If you mail or fax the form prior to the timeframes above, your request will not be processed until those timeframes are met.

Mail or fax the form to:

Note: Do not send anything other than a Form 3911 to the fax numbers below.

If you live in…. then mail to this address… or fax to...
Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont Andover Internal Revenue Service
310 Lowell St.
Andover, MA 01810
855-253-3175
Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Virginia Atlanta Internal Revenue Service
4800 Buford Hwy
Chamblee, GA 30341
855-275-8620
Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Texas Austin Internal Revenue Service
3651 S Interregional Hwy 35
Austin, TX 78741  
855-203-7538
New York Brookhaven Internal Revenue Service
1040 Waverly Ave.
Holtsville, NY 11742
855-297-7736
Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming Fresno Internal Revenue Service
3211 S Northpointe Dr
Fresno, CA 93725
855-332-3068
Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, Ohio, West Virginia Kansas City Internal Revenue Service
333 W Pershing Rd.
Kansas City, MO 64108
855-344-9993
Alabama, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee Memphis Internal Revenue Service
5333 Getwell Rd.
Memphis, TN 38118
855-580-4749
District of Columbia, Idaho, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island Philadelphia Internal Revenue Service
2970 Market St.
Philadelphia, PA 19104
855-404-9091
A foreign country, U.S. possession or territory, or use an APO or FPO address, or file Form 2555 or 4563, or are a dual-status alien. Austin Internal Revenue Service
3651 S Interregional Hwy 35
Austin, TX 78741
855-203-7538