You have 6 days to claim a stimulus payment from the IRS, but time is running out


There are pockets of people who are still owed a stimulus payment from the IRS.

Sarah Tew/CNET

With the House of Representatives returning to work this week, Washington lawmakers still have time before the end of 2020 to return to the table and hammer out another economic package that would include a second stimulus check of up to $1,200 per qualifying adult. But if the IRS still owes you a first stimulus check, you only have less than a week to claim it by the end of the year.

Several groups of Americans eligible for a payment need to take an extra step to receive the first stimulus payment that started going out in the spring, but they have just a handful of days to claim it this year with the IRS.

If you’re in one of these groups, you have until Saturday, Nov. 21 at 12 p.m. PT (3 p.m. ET) to file a first-time or catch-up payment using the Non-Filers tool if, for example, you received some but not all of your allotted stimulus amount. (Here’s how to estimate your total stimulus payment.) If you miss that Nov. 21 deadline, you’ll have to wait until tax season 2021 to make your claim.

If any of the scenarios below describe your situation, the IRS still may owe you a first stimulus check (and here’s who might not qualify). We update this story regularly.

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People who don’t normally file a federal tax return

In September, the IRS started contacting 9 million Americans who may qualify for a payment but perhaps didn’t know they needed to register to claim it. This group — which the IRS categorizes as “nonfilers” — includes people who didn’t file a tax return in 2018 or 2019, such as older adults, retirees, SSDI recipients and individuals with incomes less than $12,200.

People who are missing a payment for a dependent child

Under the CARES Act, each qualifying child dependent — those 16 years and younger — was eligible for a $500 check. But some people’s payments were short $500 for each eligible dependent. 

As with nonfilers, if you’re missing a dependent you can claim it Nov. 21 and receive the payment in December. You can use our stimulus check calculator to get an idea of how much you may be owed.

If you miss the deadline, you can claim the payment on your 2020 federal tax return in 2021.

Note that in a few cases, where parents are separated or divorced and share joint custody of a dependent, each parent can get a $500 payment per eligible child, so you may not even be aware you’re eligible for the payment to begin with.

People whose checks were garnished in error

Although there are a few cases where the federal government or a debt collector could seize your payment to cover an outstanding debt, in general, if you qualify for a check, it’s yours to spend or save as you want. One area where the federal government can garnish a check is for overdue child support. However, if the parents are separated or divorced, only the spouse who owes child support should have the check seized. 

According to the IRS, the parent who does not owe child support should receive their portion of the payment without having to take action. If you haven’t received your check, the IRS said it is working to send out the missing payments.

Those who used our stimulus check calculator and think all or part of their check is missing

Finally, if after using our stimulus check calculator, you find you may have qualified for a bigger payment than you received, you can check the IRS Get My Payment tool to see if a check is in the works. If the IRS is waiting on information from you before it sends your check, you may still have time to request one this one year.


There are still unclaimed stimulus checks.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Citizens who live abroad, some noncitizens in the US, some in US territories

The IRS has rules that set the payment eligibility guidelines for US citizens who live abroad and non-US citizens who work in the US — along with spouses of nonresident aliens. We have a guide that walks through the various eligibility scenarios along with what to do if you qualify but didn’t get a check.

People who are incarcerated (by court order)

Since April, when it first started sending payments, the IRS has gone back and forth on whether those who are in US jails and prisons qualify for a stimulus check. A recent ruling from a federal judge in California, however, seems to have settled the question — at least for now — and is requiring the IRS to contact those incarcerated who can file a claim for a stimulus check. The deadline to file a claim through the mail has passed (it was Nov. 4) those who are incarcerated have till Nov. 21 to file online, if they can access the internet, using the IRS Non-Filers tool.

The IRS has appealed the case.

For everything to know about the first payment, see our guide to the first round of checks. We also have an idea of how quickly the IRS could send out the second round of payments if another stimulus payment is approved and what other benefits you might expect in another economic relief package.


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