Recovery Rebate Credit — Topic E: Receiving the 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 Payment, 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 didn’t qualify for the first and second Economic Impact Payments or did not receive the full amounts, you may be eligible to claim the 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit based on your 2020 tax information. 

The amount of your Recovery Rebate Credit will reduce the amount of tax you owe for 2020 or, if more than the tax you owe, be included as part of your 2020 tax refund.  It will not be issued separately.

You will receive your 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit included in your refund after your 2020 tax return is processed.

The 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit Worksheet in the 2020 Form 1040 and Form1040-SR Instructions PDF can help you determine if you may be eligible to claim a Recovery Rebate Credit.

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

If your 2020 tax return has been processed and you 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 Recovery Rebate Credit FAQs — Topic G: Correcting issues after the 2020 tax return is filed.

A2. As of March 18, 2021, the 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit amount will no longer be applied to past due federal income tax debts.

Generally, tax refunds are applied to tax you owe on your return or your outstanding federal income tax liability. If you are eligible for a 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit, and your 2020 return reflects a tax refund, the refund amount associated with the 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit will not be applied to a federal income tax liability.

A3. Yes, the 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit can be reduced to pay debts owed to other federal government agencies (separate from federal income tax debt) as well as to state agencies. Keep in mind that the credit is part of your 2020 tax refund and your tax refund is subject to any offset.

A4. Generally, a credit increases the amount of your tax refund or decreases the amount of taxes owed. Your 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit will reduce the amount of tax you owe for 2020 or, if more than the tax you owe, be included as part of your 2020 tax refund.

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, prepaid debit card or mobile app for your direct deposit and will need to provide routing and account numbers.

A5.  Claiming the 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit on your tax return will not delay the processing of your 2020 tax return. However, it is important that you claim the correct amount. Any errors in the credit amount on your tax return will be corrected.  Your refund may be delayed while we make any necessary corrections.

To figure the credit amount, you will need to know the amount(s) of any first or second Economic Impact Payments you received. You can find your Economic Impact Payment amounts at IRS.gov/account. You may also refer to Notice 1444, Your Economic Impact Payment, which shows the amount of the first EIP and Notice 1444-B PDF, which shows the amount of the second EIP.

The Recovery Rebate Credit Worksheet in the 2020 Form 1040 and Form1040-SR Instructions PDF can also help  determine if you are eligible for the credit.

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, prepaid debit card or mobile app for your direct deposit and will need to provide routing and account numbers.

A6. You may be able to claim the 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit if you can establish in writing that the return was signed under duress, your signature was forged, the return was filed without your consent, or you were not legally married at the end of the year on which the first or second payment was based. The first and second payments were generally issued based on information from the 2019 return but were issued based on information from the 2018 return if a 2019 had not been filed or processed by the IRS when the payments were made. 

To show that you could not resist your spouse’s demands and signed under duress, you can provide written documentation to support your claim that the joint election was invalid. You may submit a separate return for the prior year if you had a filing requirement or provide a statement signed and sworn under penalties of perjury that you didn’t need to file a tax return for the prior year or that the return was filed without your consent.

A7. No, if you qualified for a first or second payment based on your 2018 or 2019 tax returns, the law doesn’t require you to pay back all or part of the payment you received based on the information reported on your  2020 tax return.

A8. Yes. We’ll determine if reducing your AGI by the unemployment exclusion now makes you eligible for the credit or for more of the credit if you received less than the full amount. If eligible, we’ll calculate the correct credit amount for you and send it to you by direct deposit or as a paper check if the result is a refund.

For additional information about the unemployment compensation exclusion, see Tax Treatment of Unemployment Compensation.