Recovery Rebate Credit — Topic A: Claiming the Recovery Rebate Credit if you aren’t required to file a 2020 tax return

These FAQs were released to the public in Fact Sheet 2022-02 PDF, January 7, 2022.

If you didn't get the full first and second Economic Impact Payments, you may be eligible to claim the 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit and need to file a 2020 tax return to claim it.

If you did not qualify for the full third Economic Impact Payment, see Questions and Answers About the Third Economic Impact Payment – Topic H: Reconciling on Your 2021 Tax Return.

A1. If you're eligible you must file a 2020 tax return to claim the 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit, even if you usually don’t file a tax return.

You will need the amount of all first and second Economic Impact Payments to calculate the 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit. You can find the amounts you received in your IRS Online Account.

Tax year 2020 returns can be filed electronically only by paid or volunteer tax return preparers. If you prepare a prior year tax return yourself, you must print, sign and mail your return. There are various types of tax return preparers, including certified public accountants, enrolled agents, attorneys, and others who can assist you in filing your return. For more information about these and other return preparers who might be right for you, visit Need someone to prepare your tax return? on IRS.gov/filing.

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

A2. If you’re eligible, you must file a 2020 tax return to claim the 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit, even if you are not required to file a tax return.

You will need the amounts of the first and second Economic Impact Payments you received.  You can find the amounts you received in your IRS Online Account.

Tax year 2020 returns can be filed electronically only by paid or volunteer tax return preparers. If you prepare a prior year tax return yourself, you must print, sign and mail your return. There are various types of tax return preparers, including certified public accountants, enrolled agents, attorneys, and others who can assist you in filing your return. For more information about these and other return preparers who might be right for you, visit Need someone to prepare your tax return? on IRS.gov/filing for details.

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

A3. Yes.  To avoid processing delays that slow your refund, you will need the amounts of the first and second Economic Impact Payments you received.

To claim the 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit you will need to:

  • Compute the 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit amount using the line 30 worksheet found in 2020 Form 1040 and Form 1040-SR Instructions PDF.
  • Enter the computed amount from the worksheet onto line 30, Recovery Rebate Credit, of your 2020 Form 1040 or 2020 Form 1040-SR.
  • Do not include the third Economic Impact Payment when calculating your 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit.

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 A6. How can I get a direct deposit if I don't have a bank account?

A4. Yes, you may be eligible to receive 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.

A5. Tax year 2020 returns can be filed electronically only by paid or volunteer tax preparers. If you prepare a prior year tax return yourself, you must print, sign and mail your return.

There are various types of tax return preparers, including certified public accountants, enrolled agents, attorneys, and others who can assist you in filing your return. For more information about these and other return preparers who might be right for you, visit Need someone to prepare your tax return?
 

A6. 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.

You may be able to have your refund applied to a prepaid debit card or mobile app. 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.

A7. You will need to know the amount of your first and second Economic Impact Payments to calculate the amount of the Recovery Rebate Credit you can claim on a 2020 return. You can use Online Account to look up these amount(s).

If a correction is needed, there may be a delay in processing your return while the IRS makes the correction, which will also delay your tax refund. The IRS will send you a notice explaining any change made to your return. See Topic G: Correcting issues after the 2020 tax return is filed for more information.

DO NOT file an amended tax return.

A8. 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 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit. 

See Topic G: Correcting issues after the 2020 tax return is filed for more information.