If you’re still waiting on your second stimulus check, there’s a chance it may never come.
But if you don’t receive it in your bank account or in the mail, all is not lost; you can still claim the money when you file your tax return this spring.
The first phase of relief saw many people getting stimulus money months past the deadline, but this time around, the cutoff window is much shorter.
According to USA Today, the Internal Revenue Service is required to issue the latest Economic Impact Payments by January 15.
The IRS remained hopeful on Friday stating that “those who have not yet received direct deposits should continue to watch their bank accounts for a deposit in coming days."
However, if it doesn’t come or if you received less than you are eligible for, you’ll need to do some extra work on your tax return by claiming the Recovery Rebate Credit.
NBC News notes that this doesn’t mean you’ll automatically get the full $600 or other relief money you are owed by the government.
The way it works is that the money claimed will be factored into your overall tax return, including liabilities. The rebate credit will either reduce how much you own on the 2020 income tax return or boost the tax refund.
So, you’ll get the $600, but if you owe $500, you’ll receive a payment of $100.
“If you’re going to owe money, you’re still going to owe money,” said Janet Holtzblatt, senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center.
The rebate credit can be found on Line 30 of the 1040 Form for the 2020 tax year.
The IRS maintains: "The IRS is working hard to deliver the second Economic Impact Payment quickly, as required by law, while still preparing for the upcoming 2021 tax filing season. Due to the compressed timeline, the IRS is unable to reissue and mail checks and instead encourages people to file their 2020 tax return electronically to claim and receive the Recovery Rebate Credit quickly as possible."
The second round of payments included $600 to individuals, up to $1,200 for married couples filing jointly with no children, and an extra $600 for each qualifying child 16 and under.
Individuals who earn up to $75,000 qualify for full payments, as well as heads of households with up to $112,500 in income and married couples with up to $150,000. After that, payments will be gradually reduced for high earners.
This rebate credit also applies to those who have yet to receive the first $1,200 stimulus check for which they were eligible.
Those who received overpayments generally don’t have to return it.
"If you received too much, the IRS says that you don’t have to pay it back,” said Lisa Greene-Lewis, a certified public accountant and tax expert for TurboTax.
USA Today notes that you will want to file a 2020 federal income tax return even if you aren’t required to in order to get the rebate credit.
It’s important to note that both the first and second stimulus checks will not be treated as taxable income, meaning you don’t have to pay taxes on the money received.
Those who received the correct amount for both relief payments will not have to complete the rebate credit on your upcoming tax returns.
Of course, there’s still time for your stimulus check to make its way to your bank account or mailbox. To check the status, click on “Get My Payment” at IRS.gov. This tool can give you clarity on where you stand in terms of getting your relief check.
Some people have noted seeing a message that indicated “Payment status #2 - Not Available,” which the IRS said means it's best to claim it on the tax return you file this spring.