Your Free Guide to Claiming Unclaimed Stimulus Money

Your Free Guide to Claiming Unclaimed Stimulus Money

You will learn about:
  • How to claim stimulus money you are owed
  • The requirements you need to meet to get a Stimulus Check
  • How much you may receive in Stimulus money

25 min – Estimated reading time

Your Free Guide to Claiming Unclaimed Stimulus Money

Your Free Guide to Claiming Unclaimed Stimulus Money

What to Do About Unclaimed Stimulus Money

The federal government began rolling out stimulus checks in April 2020, but many Americans have yet to receive their payments. These checks, which are also known as Economic Impact Payments (EIPs), come in the wake of steep unemployment numbers due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In this guide, you will learn about the COVID-19 stimulus checks available from the federal government, including the most common reasons for missing owed money and how to claim these payments. Additionally, some states have approved or plan to introduce their own separate stimulus payments for qualifying residents throughout 2022. 

Is the federal government still sending stimulus checks?

As of this writing, the federal government has not approved any additional stimulus payments beyond the three Economic Impact Payments (EIPs) that were sent out throughout 2020 and 2021. However, those who qualified for EIPs and did not receive them may still be able to collect payments. These are known as unclaimed stimulus payments.

Are states providing stimulus checks?

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, many states created separate stimulus check programs that provided additional financial relief to residents in need. Most state-specific aid programs have since expired, but some states may still have separate stimulus payments available for certain residents who meet the criteria.

Depending on the state, these payments may be issued in the form of a stimulus check or as a tax rebate. Currently, there are five states with active relief programs:

  • Maine

Residents in Maine may be able to collect a $850 Relief Payment to help combat pandemic-driven inflation. To qualify for this payment, full-time Maine residents must file a 2021 individual income tax return by October 31, 2022. Individuals cannot be claimed as a dependent on another resident’s tax return and must have an income below the following amounts:

  1. Single or married filing separately: $100,000
  2. Head of household: $150,000
  3. Married filing jointly: $200,000 

The first round of these relief payments is set to be distributed beginning in June 2022. Those who qualify will receive a check mailed via USPS to the address provided on their most recent tax return. Married couples filing jointly who both qualify for this payment can receive one payment each, for a total of $1,700.

  • Georgia

House Bill 1302 was passed in March 2022 and allows residents to collect a full or partial refund of state income taxes paid in 2020. The total amount of money residents may be able to receive depends on their individual tax liability for 2020. However, there is a limit to the amount of the refund:

Single filers and married individuals who file separately can receive a maximum refund of $250. Those who file as head of household may receive a maximum refund of $375.  Married individuals who file joint returns may receive a maximum refund of $500. 

To qualify, residents must have been full-year residents in 2020 and 2021 and filed a 2020 and 2021 state income tax return. Also, a resident may not have been claimed as a dependent on another resident’s 2020 income tax return, even if he or she filed an individual tax return for 2021. Those who meet the criteria will automatically receive a payment from the Department of Revenue to the direct deposit account or mailing address on file.

  • Idaho

House Bill 436 was passed in February 2022 and provides tax rebates to certain qualified residents. To qualify, residents must have been full-year residents in 2020 and 2021 and must have filed an Idaho individual income tax return or a Form 24 for both 2020 and 2021. Those who have not yet filed a 2021 individual income tax return must do so by December 31, 2022 to qualify for the rebate. 

The total amount of money a resident may receive depends on his or her tax information from 2020. Residents who qualify can receive one of following, whichever is greater:

  1. $75 per taxpayer and each dependent
  2. 12% of the tax amount reported on Form 40, line 20, or on Form 43, line 42 for military service members

Residents can track the status of their rebate using the Where’s My Rebate tool provided by the Idaho State Tax Commission here: tax.idaho.gov/rebate

  • Indiana

Indiana residents may be able to receive a one-time tax refund of $125 after filing their 2021 state income tax returns. Although program qualifications remain unclear, the state estimates it will distribute roughly $545 million in these tax refunds. 

  • New Mexico

House Bill 163 was passed in March 2022 and provides qualified residents with a one-time tax rebate. Married couples filing jointly may be able to receive a $500 rebate, while single filers may receive a $250 rebate.

To qualify, married couples must have an annual income of less than $150,000. Single filers must have an annual income of less than $75,000. 

Due to the ongoing financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, many states continue to introduce new legislation designed to provide financial relief to residents. If your state does not currently have an active stimulus check or tax rebate program, it may be worth checking continuously in the event that new legislation is introduced in the future.

Economic Impact Payments Explained

Economic Impact Payments (EIPs), more commonly referred to as “stimulus checks,” are part of the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed by Congress in 2020. This legislation aims to directly help Americans recover financially from problems related to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The first stimulus payments were issued in April 2020. The second wave came in December of the same year. The third and most recent wave of stimulus checks was issued starting in March 2021 and continued to be sent out throughout the year as tax returns were processed.

In order to receive a stimulus check, you were required to meet certain eligibility criteria, which differed slightly depending on when the stimulus check was approved. The amount of your payment also varied depending on your income. Continue reading the sections below to learn what was required to qualify for EIPs and how to calculate stimulus check amounts and unclaimed stimulus payments.

Eligibility for Stimulus Checks

Eligibility for stimulus checks depends on the following factors:

  1. Residency Status: To receive a stimulus check, you must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or qualifying resident alien or be a part of a household with at least one member that is.
  1. Taxpayer Status: You cannot be claimed as a dependent of another taxpayer.

For example, a student or child who is claimed on a parent’s tax return is not eligible to receive a payment on their own accord. The parent who claims the child was entitled to receive a monetary bonus ($500 in the first wave of EIPs; $600 in the second wave; $1,400 in the third wave) for each qualifying child they claimed as a dependent.

  1. Social Security Number (SSN): At least one person within a household must have a Social Security Number (SSN) that is valid for employment. Unlike the previous two stimulus checks, mixed households qualify for the third EIP. 

If your SSN card states “Not Valid For Employment,” and your immigration status has changed since the date your card was issued, you must request a new card from the Social Security Administration (SSA). 

  1. Income: Your adjusted gross income (AGI) is used to calculate your eligibility for stimulus checks. For 2021 stimulus checks, you must use your AGI from the 2020 tax year. For previous stimulus checks from 2020, you must use your AGI from the 2019 tax year. Find your AGI on line 8b of Form 1040, which is part of your tax return.

To receive the total approved amount of stimulus money for the first two EIPs, your income cannot be higher than:

  • $150,000, if you are married and filing a joint tax return.
  • $75,000, if you are filing an individual tax return. 

If your income is higher than $198,000 and you are married and filing a joint tax return, you do not qualify for stimulus check 1 or 2. 

If your income is higher than $99,000 and you are filing as an individual, you do not qualify for stimulus check 1 or 2.

If your income exceeds the limits but is lower than $198,000 or $99,000 respectively, you may still be eligible to receive a reduced stimulus check from the first two EIPs. See the section directly below to learn how to calculate your estimated amount.

Note: Income limits are different for the third economic impact payment.

  • If your income is higher than $160,000 and you are married and filing a joint tax return, you do not qualify for stimulus check 3.
  • If your income is higher than $80,000 and you are filing as single, you do not qualify for stimulus check 3.
  • If your income is higher than $120,000 and you are filing as head of household, you do not qualify for stimulus check 3.
  • If your income exceeds the limits but is lower than $160,000, $80,000 or $120,000, respectively, you may still be eligible to receive a reduced stimulus check for the third EIP

How much are stimulus checks?

The first stimulus payments were a maximum of $1,200 per individual, $2,400 per married couple and an extra $500 per each qualifying child (dependent). 

The second wave of payments offered $600 per individual, $1,200 per married couple and $600 per each qualifying child. 

The third wave of payments offered $1,400 per individual, $2,800 per married couple, and $1,400 per each qualifying child. 

Some married couples who filed a joint tax return in 2020 may receive the third stimulus payment in two separate payments. The first payment may be issued in the form of a direct deposit, while the second payment may be issued as a paper check mailed to the address provided on the most recent tax return.

It is important to understand that you may not be entitled to the full amount of each stimulus check. The amount of money you can receive varies depending on your income.

For the first two EIPs, the total amount of your stimulus check will be reduced by $5 for every $100 dollars that your 2019 adjusted gross income (AGI) exceeds the income threshold. To see the income thresholds, refer to the income requirements provided directly above.

For example, if you are married and filing a joint tax return, your income must be at or below $150,000 to receive the full amount of the stimulus check. If your AGI is $155,000, you are $5,000 above the threshold. Now you must find the amount by which your payment is reduced.

Divide $5,000 by $100 and the result is 50 (this is the amount your income exceeds the threshold, expressed in hundreds).

Multiply the result 50 by $5 (since the check will be reduced by $5 for each $100 dollars over the threshold) and you get $250.

Using the example above, your stimulus check will be reduced by $250. 

For the third stimulus check, if your income exceeds the AGI limits but is lower than $160,000, $120,000 or $80,000, respectively by filing status, you should receive a reduced payment amount. 

How Stimulus Payments Are Issued

The federal government issues stimulus payments in the following ways:

  • Direct deposit into your bank account
  • Payments by mail

If you filed a tax return for 2018, 2019 or 2020 and you included your bank account information on your tax return, you will automatically receive your stimulus payments by direct deposit into the bank account on file with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). 

If you meet any of the criteria listed below, you will likely receive your stimulus money in the mail instead:

  • The IRS does not have your bank account on file.
  • Your bank account was recently closed.
  • You did not file a tax return. 

Stimulus money sent in the mail will arrive in the form of a paper check or a prepaid debit card. The debit card, known as an Economic Impact Payment Card, is sent in a white envelope displaying the U.S. Department of the Treasury seal so that recipients know it is authentic.

The way in which you received your first stimulus payment may be different from the way in which you received your second or third stimulus payments.

IRS Letters (Notice 1444, 1444-B and 1444-C)

After you receive an Economic Impact Payment (EIP) from the federal government, you will receive a letter confirming the amount of the payment. These letters, known as “Notices,” also provide information about reporting missed or incorrect payment amounts.

  • Notice 1444 applies to the first round of stimulus payments. 
  • Notice 1444-B applies to the second round of stimulus payments.
  • Notice 1444-C applies to the third round of stimulus payments.

You should keep these notices in your files, as you can refer to them during the next tax filing season and use them to claim additional credits or payments if you are eligible for them.

How to Claim Owed Stimulus Money

Many Americans reported missing or incorrect stimulus payments. If you have not received Economic Impact Payments (EIPs), did not see your dependent children reflected in your payment amounts or received less than the amount you believe you are owed, you may qualify for the Recovery Rebate Credit when filing a 2020 or 2021 tax return. 

Learn how to claim your owed stimulus money in the sections below.

The Online Non-Filer Tool Is Now Closed

The IRS Non-Filer Tool was the previous method for registering for unclaimed stimulus checks. The tool is now closed. Currently, the only way to receive unclaimed stimulus checks owed to you is to apply for the Recovery Rebate Credit when filing your 2020 or 2021 tax return (if you have not yet filed).

Filing Form 1040 or 1040-SR for the Recovery Rebate Credit

If you did not receive the full amount of either stimulus check, you may still be eligible to apply for the Recovery Rebate Credit when you file your 2020 or 2021 tax return.

Form 1040 or 1040-SR. The full amounts of each stimulus payment are listed below:

  • First stimulus checks – $1,200 per individual, $2,400 per married couple and $500 per qualifying child
  • Second stimulus checks – $600 per individual, $1,200 per married couple and $600 per qualifying child
  • Third stimulus checks – $1,400 per individual, $2,800 per married couple and $1,400 per qualifying child

The Recovery Rebate Credit applies the Economic Impact Payments (EIPs) that you were eligible for but did not receive to your 2020 or 2021 tax return, whichever year you are filing. Essentially, it is a tax credit that will increase the amount of your tax refund (if you are eligible for a refund) or decrease the amount of the tax you owe (if you owe taxes).

To claim this credit, you must file Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR during the tax season, even if you do not normally file a tax return. This must be done by the end of 2022. If you did not file an income tax return for the tax year 2020, and you believe you are entitled to a Recovery Rebate Credit, you must file a past due tax return in the same way you would file an on-time tax return. Learn more about past due tax returns on the IRS website here: https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/filing-past-due-tax-returns

Form 1040 is the general tax return document for all taxpayers. Form 1040-SR is a special tax return document for seniors that includes senior-specific forms of income and displays a larger font.

Follow the steps below to learn how to complete a paper Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR:

  1. Download Form 1040 here: https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f1040.pdf 

If you would like to fill out form 1040-SR, you can access it here: https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f1040s.pdf 

  1. Complete the form using the Line by Line Instruction Manual.

Access the instruction manual here: https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/i1040gi.pdf 

Use the Recovery Rebate Credit Worksheet on page 59 of the instruction manual to calculate the amount of stimulus money you are owed. 

  1. Mail the form and any required payment to the IRS.

The address to which you must mail your tax return depends on your state. Additionally, the address to which you must send your tax return depends on whether or not you are enclosing a payment. 

View a state-by-state list of addresses on the IRS website here: https://www.irs.gov/filing/where-to-file-paper-tax-returns-with-or-without-a-payment  

If your income is at or below $72,000, you can file your tax return online for free using IRS Free File. Access the Free File system here: https://www.irs.gov/filing/free-file-do-your-federal-taxes-for-free

You may also choose to prepare your tax return using commercial software or authorized e-File providers. Search for authorized providers here: https://www.irs.gov/e-file-providers/authorized-irs-e-file-provider-locator-service-for-tax-professionals 

A Note on U.S. Territories

If you reside in one of the following areas, do not complete the Recovery Rebate Credit Worksheet and do not fill in line 30 on Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR:

  • American Samoa
  • The Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands
  • Guam
  • Puerto Rico
  • U.S. Virgin Islands

Each U.S. Territory is responsible for determining who qualifies for the Recovery Rebate Credit. If you have any questions about this credit, consult the tax authority in your territory of residence. 

When and How to Request a Payment Trace

If you have not received a stimulus payment that you were due and IRS records indicate a payment has been processed, you can request a payment trace. Before requesting a trace, use the Get My Payment tool to determine the status of your stimulus money. Refer to the “How to Check the Status of Your Stimulus Payments” section to learn how to use the tool.

If you receive Notice 1444/1444-B/1444-C and it states your stimulus payment was issued via direct deposit, and it has been more than five days after the payment date, you should inquire with your bank to verify that it did not receive the deposit. If it has not received any direct deposit, you can request a payment trace.

You may also be able to request a payment trace within the following time frames if Notice 1444/1444-B/1444-C shows a payment was mailed. These time frames vary based on whether you want to request a trace for the first, second or third round of stimulus payments: 

First EIP

  • 4 weeks after the payment was mailed to a standard home address
  • 6 weeks after the payment was mailed if you have a forwarding address on file with your local post office
  • 9 weeks after the payment was mailed if you have a foreign address

Second EIP

  • After February 24, 2021 when the payment was mailed to a standard home address
  • After March 10, 2021 if you have a forwarding address on file with your local post office
  • After March 31, 2021 if you have a foreign address

Third EIP

  • 5 days after the date of the direct deposit if the bank has still not gotten the EIP
  • 4 weeks after the EIP was mailed to a standard residential address via check
  • 6 weeks after the EIP was mailed in the event that you have a forwarding address set up with the post office
  • 9 weeks after the EIP was mailed in the event you have a foreign address

To request a payment trace by phone, call the IRS at:

800-919-9835

To request a payment trace by mail or fax, complete Form 3911 – Taxpayer Statement Regarding Refund. Download the form here: https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f3911.pdf 

At the top of the form, write “EIP” and the number of the economic impact payment you would like to trace (for example, “EIP 1”).

When the form is complete, mail or fax it to the IRS address provided for your state. Find the information below:

StateMailing AddressFax Number
Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire or VermontAndover Internal Revenue Service
310 Lowell St.
Andover, MA 01810
855-253-3175
Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky or VirginiaAtlanta Internal Revenue Service
4800 Buford Hwy
Chamblee, GA 30341
855-275-8620
Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma or TexasAustin Internal Revenue Service
3651 S Interregional Hwy 35
Austin, TX 78741
855-203-7538
New YorkBrookhaven Internal Revenue Service
1040 Waverly Ave. 
Holtsville, NY 11742
855-297-7736
Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin or  WyomingFresno Internal Revenue Service
5045 E Butler Avenue
Fresno, CA 93888
855-332-3068
Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, Ohio or West VirginiaKansas City Internal Revenue Service
333 W Pershing Rd.
Kansas City, MO 64108
855-344-9993
Alabama, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota or  TennesseeMemphis Internal Revenue Service
5333 Getwell Rd.
Memphis, TN 38118
855-580-4749
District of Columbia, Idaho, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Rhode IslandPhiladelphia Internal Revenue Service
2970 Market St.
Philadelphia, PA 19104
855-404-9091
A foreign country, U.S. possession or territory, an APO or FPO address, if you file Form 2555, Form 4563 or are a dual-status alienAustin Internal Revenue Service
3651 S Interregional Hwy 35
Austin, TX 78741
855-203-7538
  • If your missing stimulus check was not cashed, the IRS will send you a notification and redo your payment. If you find the original stimulus check thereafter, you must return it. 
  • If your missing stimulus check was cashed, you will receive a claim package that shows a copy of the cashed check and a set of instructions to follow. You must provide your signature on the canceled check so the Bureau of Fiscal Service can compare the original and canceled check to determine if it may be reversed.

Most claims are processed within six weeks of requesting a trace. 

I still haven’t received my stimulus money. What else can I do?

If you still have not received your stimulus money and have exhausted all the options above, you can contact the IRS live phone assistance hotline at:

800-829-1040

Future Stimulus Payments

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, future rounds of stimulus payments may become available. However, there is currently no set date or amount for any future payments. 

The status of future stimulus payments changes frequently. For the most accurate and up-to-date information regarding stimulus payments, visit the IRS website at https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/economic-impact-payments

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