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, to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit you will need to:

  • Compute the Recovery Rebate Credit amount using tax preparation software or the line 30 worksheet found in Form 1040 and Form 1040-SR Instructions.
  • Enter the computed amount from the worksheet onto line 30, Recovery Rebate Credit, of your 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 A7. How can I get a direct deposit if I don't have a bank account?

The IRS has provided an online Non-Filer tool to allow individuals who weren't required to file (and have not filed) a tax return for 2020 to file a simplified tax return. This simplified tax return allows eligible individuals to register for advance Child Tax Credit payments and the third Economic Impact Payment, as well as claim the 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit. Free tax return preparation is also available for those who qualify.

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. Filing electronically is the fastest and most accurate way for you to file. 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. 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.

However, you are not required to include your income on the return when using the online Non-filer Tool or filing a simplified return if your income is less than your applicable standard deduction and you're not required to file a tax return.

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.

A8. After you use the tool, you don't need to do anything else to get stimulus payments you are eligible for - including the 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit.

We use information you enter in the Child Tax Credit Non-filer Sign-up Tool to:

We are sending separate payments to eligible people for the 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit, the third Economic Impact Payment and advance payments of the 2021 Child Tax Credit.

A9. Your tax preparation software or the line 30 worksheet found in the 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 first and second Economic Impact Payments . You can use Online Account to look up these amount(s) or you may also refer to the Notice 1444, Your Economic Impact Payment and Notice 1444-B, Your Second Economic Impact Payment.

If you figure your Recovery Rebate Credit incorrectly the IRS will calculate the credit for you (unless you enter $0 or leave line 30 of your Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR blank), 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 a correction is needed, there may be a delay in processing your return which will also delay your enrollment for advance Child Tax Credit payments, if applicable. 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.

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