Recovery Rebate Credit — Topic B: Eligibility for claiming a Recovery Rebate Credit on 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. The eligibility requirements for the 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit claimed on a 2020 tax return are the same as they were for the first and second 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.

If you didn't qualify for the first and second Economic Impact Payments or did not receive the full amounts, you may be eligible for the 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit based on your 2020 tax information. If you received the full amount for the first and second Economic Impact Payments, you won't need to include any information about either – or claim a Recovery Rebate Credit - 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 first or second 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 to claim the credit.

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 by the amount of your first and second Economic Impact Payments. It also is 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 if 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 claimed on a 2020 tax return 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 the credit.
  • 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 claimed on a 2020 tax return.

See IRS.gov/rrc or the Recovery Rebate Credit Worksheet available in the 2020 Form 1040 and Form 1040-SR instructions for more information.

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

Here are reasons why you may qualify for the 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit claimed on a 2020 tax return.

Income change: Your adjusted gross income went down in 2020.

Qualifying child: You welcomed an eligible child in 2020 who was under the age of 17 at the end of 2020.

No longer a dependent: You were no longer eligible to be claimed as a dependent on someone else's tax return in 2020.

Social Security number: You received a Social Security number valid for employment before the due date of your 2020 return (including extensions).

A3. No. If you received a payment based on your 2018 or 2019 tax information, the law doesn't require you to pay back any excess payments based on the information reported on your 2020 tax returns.

A4. Generally, yes, you must have a Social Security number valid for employment to get the credit. 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 claimed on a 2020 tax return for both spouses.

Under a 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 first or second 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.

If you filed a 2020 tax return and didn't claim the credit on your return but are eligible for it, you must file an amended return to claim the credit. See the 2020 FAQs Recovery Rebate Credit — Topic G: Correcting issues after the 2020 tax return is filed.

A5. A valid SSN for the Recovery Rebate Credit claimed on a 2020 tax return 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 requested it).

If the individual was a U.S. citizen when they received the SSN, then it's valid for employment.

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 law enacted in December 2020, a married couple filing a joint return now may be eligible for a partial credit claimed on a 2020 tax return when only one spouse has a Social Security number valid for employment. If you and your spouse did not receive one or both first or second 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 the credit on your 2020 tax return for the spouse with the Social Security number valid for employment. There is an exception if one spouse is a member of the U.S. Armed Forces. See the next question and answer for more details.

If eligible for a Recovery Rebate Credit, you claim it on line 30 of your 2020 tax return.

If you filed a 2020 tax return and didn't claim the credit on your return but are eligible for the credit, you must file an amended return to claim the credit. See the 2020 FAQs Recovery Rebate Credit — Topic G: Correcting issues after the 2020 tax return is filed.

A7. If either spouse is a member of the U.S. Armed Forces at any time during the 2020 taxable year, only one spouse needs to have a valid SSN for both spouses to claim the credit when they file a 2020 joint return.

If you file separately, the spouse who has an SSN may qualify for the credit but the other spouse without a valid SSN will not qualify.

If you filed a 2020 tax return and didn't claim the credit on your return but are eligible for it, you must file an amended return to claim the credit. See the 2020 FAQs Recovery Rebate Credit — Topic G: Correcting issues after the 2020 tax return is filed.

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 filed a 2020 tax return and didn't claim the credit on your return but are eligible for it, you must file an amended return to claim the credit. See the 2020 FAQs Recovery Rebate Credit — Topic G: Correcting issues after the 2020 tax return is filed.

The fastest way to get your tax refund is to 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 on a 2020 tax return if all other eligibility requirements are met.

If you're married and didn't receive the full first and second Economic Impact Payments, you should determine your eligibility for the Recovery Rebate Credit when filing your 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.

If your filed a 2020 tax return and didn't claim the credit on your return but are eligible for it, you must file an amended return to claim the credit. See the 2020 FAQs Recovery Rebate Credit — Topic G: Correcting issues after the 2020 tax return is filed.

The fastest way to get your tax refund is to 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 claimed on a 2020 tax return 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 first and second 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 first or second Economic Impact Payment may be eligible for the 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit if the individual met the eligibility requirements.

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