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

A1. If you're eligible – and either didn’t receive Economic Impact Payments or if you think you qualify for more than you received – you’ll need to file a 2020 tax return and 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 return is to file electronically. The tax software will ask you questions about your income, credits and deductions and will help you figure your Recovery Rebate Credit.

If your income is $72,000 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 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.

A2. If you’re eligible – and either didn’t receive Economic Impact Payments or if you think you qualify for more than you received – you’ll need to file a 2020 tax return and 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 return is to file electronically. The tax software will ask you questions about your income, credits and deductions and will help you figure your Recovery Rebate Credit.

If your income is $72,000 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 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 software will ask you for specific information. No matter how you file, you will need to take these steps:

  • Select your filing status.
  • Enter name(s), address, Social Security numbers(s).
  • Answer presidential election campaign and virtual currency questions.
  • Check the box if “Someone can claim” you as a dependent, if applicable
  • Check the appropriate box(es) for “Age/Blindness” if applicable.
  • List all eligible dependent(s), Social Security number(s), relationship(s) to you, if applicable, and check the applicable “Child tax credit” or “Credit for other dependents” checkbox.
  • Enter your “Standard deduction” amount on line 12. If you checked box(es) for “Age/Blindness” see the Form 1040 and Form 1040-SR instructions
  • Compute the Recovery Rebate Credit amount using the tax prep software or the worksheet found in Form 1040, line 30 Instructions PDF.
  • Enter the computed amount from the worksheet to all the following lines:
    • line 30, Recovery Rebate
    • line 32, Total Other Payments and Refundable Credits
    • line 33, Total Payments
    • line 34, Overpaid
    • line 35a, Refunded to you
  • 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.
  • Don’t forget to sign your return. If married filing jointly, both signatures are required.

Note: If you have income, see Should I include income on the return even if I am not usually required to file? If you do not have any income, there is no need to enter anything on lines 1 through 11 and 13 through 29 when preparing your tax return, as it is not necessary for the Recovery Rebate Credit.

A4. Yes, your return must be complete and correct. Even if you don’t have a tax return filing requirement, you may be eligible to receive additional credits based on your filing information by including the amount of your income and information about a spouse or any dependents. Filing electronically is the fastest and most accurate way for you to file. The tax software will ask you questions about your income, credits and deductions and will help you figure your Recovery Rebate Credit and any other credits that may apply to you.

If your income is $72,000 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.

Tax professionals can help you prepare a tax return. 

IRS.gov has online resources to answer your questions immediately. The Interactive Tax Assistant is a tool that provides answers to several tax law questions specific to your individual circumstances. Based on your input including any income, it can determine your filing status, if you can claim a dependent, if you're eligible to claim a credit, or if you can deduct expenses. You can also review the Instructions for Form 1040 and Form 1040-SR PDF for additional guidance.

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 used the Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here last year to register for an Economic Impact Payment, you should enter “$1” as the prior year AGI verification.  
     
  • If you did not use the Non-Filers tool last year to register for an Economic Impact Payment and you did not file an electronic or a paper 2019 Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR, you should enter “$0” as the prior year AGI verification.
     
  • If you filed an electronic or a paper 2019 Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR, enter the AGI amount from line 8b of the submitted 2019 Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR as the prior year AGI verification.

A6. Yes. IRS Free File online is especially valuable for people often referred to as non-filers, who do not have a tax filing obligation. These are people whose taxable income is below certain income levels. For example, single people with incomes below $12,400, the amount of the standard deduction, would have no filing obligation if they had no other special tax issues.

Eligible non-filers who did not get a first or second Economic Impact Payment or got less than the full amounts, must file a 2020 tax return and claim the 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit.

And even if you don’t have a computer, if you have a smart phone, you can access Free File online and do your tax return.

Here’s how it works if you do not have a tax filing requirement:

  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 reporting your taxable income, if any.
     
  6. If you have no taxable income, simply answer the questions including those requesting information needed to compute the Recovery Rebate Credit.
     
  7. Complete the information for your refund, sign the return and file it electronically.

Non-filers using our nine traditional Free File products may find they are eligible for additional tax benefits such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, or EITC. Free File online uses easy interview-based software products to walk users through the tax filing process step-by-step to help ensure they get all the tax breaks they 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 EIP debit card is not a reloadable card.