Recovery Rebate Credit — Topic B: Eligibility

A1. The eligibility requirements are the same for the Recovery Rebate Credit as they were for the Economic Impact Payments except that the credit eligibility and the credit amount are based on your 2020 tax year information. The Economic Impact Payments were based on your 2018 or 2019 tax year information.

Individuals who didn’t qualify for the Economic Impact Payments or did not receive the full amount of the recovery rebates as Economic Impact Payments may be eligible for the Recovery Rebate Credit based on their 2020 tax situation.  If you received the full amount for each Economic Impact Payment, you won’t need to include any information about either when you file your 2020 tax return. You received the full amount if:

  • Your first Economic Impact Payment was $1,200 ($2,400 if married filing jointly) plus $500 for each qualifying child; and
  • Your second Economic Impact Payment was $600 ($1,200 if married filing jointly) plus $600 for each qualifying child .
    If you either didn’t receive any Economic Impact Payments or received less than these full amounts, you may be eligible to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit based on your 2020 tax information and must file a 2020 Federal tax return.

Generally, if you were a U.S. citizen or U.S. resident alien in 2020, were not a dependent of another taxpayer and have a Social Security number that is valid for employment, you are eligible for the Recovery Rebate Credit.  Your credit amount will be reduced if your adjusted gross income (AGI) is more than: 

  • $150,000 if married and filing a joint return or filing as a qualifying widow or widower
  • $112,500 if filing as head of household or
  • $75,000 for eligible individuals filing as a single or as married filing separately.  

Your payment will be reduced by 5% of the amount by which your AGI exceeds the applicable threshold above.

You are not eligible for the Recovery Rebate Credit if any of the following applies:

  • You may be claimed as a dependent on another taxpayer’s 2020 return (for example, a child or student who may be claimed on a parent’s return or a dependent parent who may be claimed on an adult child’s return).
  • You do not have a Social Security number that is valid for employment issued before the due date of your 2020 tax return (including extensions). Some exceptions apply for those who file married filing jointly where only one spouse must have a valid Social Security number to claim RRC.
  • You are a nonresident alien.
  • You are an estate or trust.

Also, individuals who died prior to January 1, 2020 are not eligible for the Recovery Rebate Credit.

See IRS.gov/rrc or the Recovery Rebate Credit Worksheet available in the Form 1040 and Form 1040-SR instructions for more information.

Anyone with income of $72,000 or less can file their 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 you refund direct deposited  into your bank account, prepaid debit card or mobile app. You will need to provide the routing and account numbers no matter which option you choose - bank accounts, prepaid debit cards or mobile apps.

A2. If you were not eligible for either or both of the Economic Impact Payments, you may still be eligible for the Recovery Rebate Credit since it’s based on your 2020 tax return information.  The Economic Impact Payments were based on your 2018 or 2019 tax information.

Following are some factors that may affect eligibility for the Recovery Rebate Credit.
Income change: Some people may have received less than the full Economic Impact Payments because their adjusted gross income was too high. Lower income in 2020 could make you eligible for the Recovery Rebate Credit.

Qualifying child: Birth or adoption of an eligible child in 2020. Note: Children must be under the age of 17 at the end of 2020 to be qualifying children for the Recovery Rebate Credit.

No longer a dependent: Individuals who were claimed or could be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return in 2018 or 2019, but who cannot be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s return in 2020, may now be eligible.

Social Security number: Individuals who did not have a Social Security number valid for employment in 2018 or 2019 but receive one before the due date of their 2020 return (including extensions) may now be eligible. Some exceptions apply for those who file married filing jointly where only one spouse must have a valid Social Security number to claim RRC.

You’ll claim the Recovery Rebate Credit when you file your 2020 tax return.

Anyone with income of $72,000 or less can file their 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 will need to provide the routing and account numbers no matter which option you choose - bank accounts, prepaid debit cards or mobile apps.

A3. No. There is no provision in the law that requires individuals who qualified for and received a payment based on their 2018 or 2019 tax information to pay back all or part of the payment, if based on the information reported on their 2020 tax returns, they qualify for a lesser amount.

A4.  Generally, yes. One eligibility requirement for the Recovery Rebate Credit is that you must have Social Security number valid for employment. In general, when spouses file a joint return, each spouse must have a Social Security number valid for employment to receive the full amount of the Recovery Rebate Credit.

If, however, at least one of the spouses is a member of the U.S. Armed Forces at any time during the 2020 taxable year, only one spouse needs to have a Social Security number valid for employment to receive the full amount of each Recovery Rebate Credit for both spouses.

Under a new law enacted in December 2020, a married couple filing a joint return may be eligible for a partial credit when only one spouse has a Social Security number valid for employment.  If you and your spouse did not receive one or both Economic Impact Payments because one of you did not have a Social Security number valid for employment, you should complete the Recovery Rebate Credit Worksheet or use tax preparation software to determine if you may claim a Recovery Rebate Credit on your 2020 tax return for the spouse with the Social Security number valid for employment. 

A5.  A valid SSN for the Recovery Rebate Credit is one that is valid for employment in the United States and is issued by the Social Security Administration (SSA) before the due date of your 2020 tax return (including an extension to October 15, 2021, if you request it).
If the individual was a U.S. citizen when they received the SSN, then it’s valid for employment.

If “Not Valid for Employment” is printed on the individual’s Social Security card and the individual’s immigration status has changed so that they’re now a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, ask the SSA for a new Social Security card.

If “Valid for Work Only with DHS Authorization” is printed on the individual's Social Security card, the individual has the required SSN only as long as the Department of Homeland Security authorization is valid.

A6. Under a new law enacted in December 2020, a married couple filing a joint return now may be eligible for a partial credit when only one spouse has a Social Security number valid for employment. If you and your spouse did not receive one or both Economic Impact Payments because one of you did not have a Social Security number valid for employment, you should complete the Recovery Rebate Credit Worksheet or use tax preparation software to determine if you may claim a Credit on your 2020 tax return for the spouse with the Social Security number valid for employment.  If eligible for a Recovery Rebate Credit, you claim it on line 30 of your 2020 tax return.

There is an exception if one spouse is a member of the U.S. Armed Forces.

A7. If either spouse is a member of the U.S. Armed Forces at any time during the 2020 taxable year, the requirement that both spouses have an SSN valid for employment to receive a credit for both spouses is satisfied if only one spouse has an SSN valid for employment. Only one spouse needs to have a valid SSN in this situation to claim RRC when they file a joint return.

If spouses file separately, the spouse who has an SSN may qualify for a Payment; the other spouse without a valid SSN will not qualify.

A8:  If you filed your 2019 return as a qualifying widow or widower and your 2019 adjusted gross income was more than $75,000, you may not have received the full amount of the first and second Economic Impact Payments. You should complete the Recovery Rebate Credit Worksheet or use tax preparation software to determine if you may claim the Recovery Rebate Credit on your 2020 tax return. 

If you file electronically, the tax 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 Form 1040 and Form 1040-SR instructions can also help calculate 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 use a bank account, many prepaid debit cards and several mobile apps for your direct deposit and will need to provide routing and account numbers.

A9. Maybe. If you cannot be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s return for the 2020 tax year, you may be eligible to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit if all other eligibility requirements are met. 

If you file electronically, the tax 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 Form 1040 and Form 1040-SR instructions can also help calculate the credit.

Married persons who didn’t receive the Economic Impact Payment should determine their eligibility for the Recovery Rebate Credit when filing their 2020 tax return.  You and your spouse can’t be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s return for the 2020 tax year if you claim the Recovery Rebate Credit on a joint tax return that you and your spouse file together. See Joint Return Test under Dependents in Publication 501, Dependents, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information.

Anyone with income of $72,000 or less can file their 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 will need to provide the routing and account numbers no matter which option you choose - bank accounts, prepaid debit cards or mobile apps.

A10.  Yes, individuals will not be denied the Recovery Rebate Credit solely because they are incarcerated.

A11.  No, you may not claim the credit from the IRS. Instead, tax authorities in U.S. territories will provide the Recovery Rebate Credit to eligible residents. Individuals who were territory residents in 2020 should direct questions about Economic Impact Payments received or the 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit to the tax authorities in the territories where they reside.

A12. An individual who died in 2020 or in 2021 and did not receive the full amount of the Economic Impact Payment may be eligible for the Recovery Rebate Credit if the individual met the eligibility requirements.

File electronically and the tax software will help you figure the 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 Form 1040 and Form 1040-SR instructions can also help calculate the credit.

An individual who died prior to January 1, 2020, does not qualify for the Recovery Rebate Credit.