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Published: Mar 18, 2021 5 min read
Person tacking out a stimulus check from their jean pocket
Money; Shutterstock

If you’ve been obsessively checking your bank account for your third stimulus check, you’re not alone. But if March comes and goes and you don’t see that payment in your account or mailbox — or if you get less than you’re supposed to — all is not lost. You still have two more chances to get that third stimulus payment.

The $1.9 trillion stimulus relief package President Joe Biden signed into law last week doesn’t just include $1,400 stimulus checks. It also includes an “additional payment determination date.” This provision, alongside the fact that you can claim the third stimulus payment next year on your 2021 taxes, means there’s no reason to panic if you don’t get a check right away (assuming, of course, that you're eligible for one).

Maybe your stimulus check went to the wrong bank account or to an old address. Or maybe you qualified for a payment in 2020, but not in 2019, and your eligibility was based on your income from the earlier year. Whatever the reason, here’s what to know about the two additional opportunities to get a third stimulus payment for the correct amount.

What is the stimulus check “additional payment determination date?"

Stimulus checks started hitting bank accounts on March 12, and more arrived on Wednesday, the official payment date, according to the IRS. That means that if you haven’t yet filed your 2020 taxes (remember: you now have an extra month to do so) — or if you only did recently — your stimulus payment may be based on income reported on your 2019 tax returns.

But the American Rescue Plan includes a look-back provision that will capture your 2020 income after you file. This "additional payment determination date” will fall either 90 days after the tax filing deadline or Sept. 1, according to the text of the bill.

If your third stimulus payment was initially based on your 2019 return and the 2020 return you file qualifies you for more stimulus money, or for a payment where you didn't qualify for one before, the IRS is developing a process to redetermine your eligibility later this year, and the agency will issue you an additional payment for the difference or the payment you didn't receive, says Kathy Pickering, chief tax officer at H&R Block.

While this is a "very pro-taxpayer provision," it does add administrative complexity for the IRS, says Eric Bronnenkant, Head of Tax at Betterment. The agency is already facing delays due to the pandemic.

The IRS hasn’t solidified how the agency will handle these additional payments, or if amended 2020 returns will be taken into account if you were already issued a payment (or not) based on your original 2020 return, says Eric Smith, a spokesman for the IRS.

“But if we can find a way to direct deposit any of these, we’re going to do it,” Smith says. “We want to get people their money as quickly as possible.”

Can you claim the third stimulus payment on 2021 taxes?

If you don't get the correct stimulus payment amount after that look-back deadline, all is still not lost.

If you had a change in circumstances in 2021 that would qualify you to receive additional third stimulus money, you can claim a Recovery Rebate Credit when you file your 2021 taxes in 2022, Pickering says. Changing circumstances can include events like having a child (a dependent you would now claim) or losing a job (and having a lower income).

This would look similar to the 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit, which people who didn’t receive the right amount for their first or second stimulus payment are claiming on their 2020 taxes now.

In short: watch your bank account and your mail, but know that if a mistake has been made, you’ve got two more shots at getting your third stimulus check (or getting an even bigger one).

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