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You have one last chance to get stimulus check money — here's how

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The first two stimulus checks have come and gone, but the third Economic Impact Payment worth up to $1,400 per person is still up for grabs if you haven't received it yet.

Most of the payments authorized by the American Rescue Plan in March 2021 have already been delivered to eligible recipients via direct deposit or mailed checks, as of January 2022.

But if you haven't received yours, or qualified for additional money, your last chance to get these funds is through a 2021 tax return, which is due April 18 for most people.

Technically, the third stimulus check was an advance on the 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit credit, even though it was based on the income and the number of dependents listed in your 2020 or 2019 tax return. That means you could be owed more money if your income dropped or you added new dependents in 2021. Likewise, you could be entitled to the full credit if you never filed a tax return in 2019 or 2020.

How to claim stimulus funds in your 2021 tax return

The third round of stimulus payments is worth up to $1,400 per person if your adjusted gross income is $75,000 or less as a single filer, or $160,000 or less as a joint filer. Families are entitled to $1,400 per dependent for dependents of any age. 

Before claiming the funds, make sure they weren't sent to you already. You can confirm the amount of the third payment and whether it was sent to you by logging into your IRS online account or the Get My Payment app. You can also refer to a letter sent to you by the IRS, known as Notice 1444-C, which will tell you how much is owed to you. 

If you lost your stimulus check or suspect it was stolen, you can request the IRS to trace your payment and get the amount automatically reimbursed to you as a tax refund. If you're filing your 2021 tax return before your trace is complete, do not include the payment amount on the Recovery Rebate Credit Worksheet, the IRS says.

Otherwise, you'll need to complete the Recovery Rebate Tax Credit worksheet and submit it as part of your 2021 tax return. The worksheet will help you calculate how much you can claim. Then, claim it on line 30 in Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR of your 2021 tax return. 

Tax software will also guide you through this process and automatically add all the information to your tax return. 

If you realize later that you made a mistake calculating the Recovery Rebate Credit, don't bother filing an amended return. The IRS will automatically change it for you. They should notify you of any changes in a letter, with a way to dispute the change if you think it was done incorrectly. 

And remember, you can file your tax return for free if your income is $73,000 or less, using the IRS Free File Program.

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