Taxpayers who say they qualify for COVID-related Economic Impact Payments but never received them turned to NBC 5 Responds for help getting answers on their missing money, and the answer starts with a sentence we don’t often get to say: The Internal Revenue Service says there is a simple fix here.
People who believe they qualify but were passed by need to fill out basic tax forms this year, even if they usually do not file.
Jeanne Rose may be a perfect case in point. She lives in an assisted living facility in South Elgin, where she is battling kidney disease and currently uses a wheelchair to get around. Rose told NBC5 Responds she urgently needed the EIP stimulus money that was sent to millions last spring.
“I think almost everybody has gotten it,” Rose said. "People look at me like, ‘You didn't get yours?’ And I know I haven't gotten one yet. ... I don't understand why. It just doesn't make any sense to me."
Rose said that when she saw the news of so many receiving that first $1,200 check, she already had a long list of crucial needs. She recently has gotten by with the help of family and friends for basic needs like toiletries, toilet paper and other essentials.
Family and friends keep her afloat, she said, but she would prefer not to lean on them. She regularly checks both her bank account and the IRS website to try to get answers about why the money never arrived. So far, she cannot get any definitive answer from the agency, she says.
“It just keeps telling me payment status data available, payment status, and do not call the IRS," Rose said. “And every time, every, every website that anybody's given me, I get the same response: no status data available.”
It's a mystery that Certified Public Accountant Wendy Barlin said she sympathizes with.
"I’d say [to Rose]: Take a breath. Just be patient, file again for 2020," Barlin told NBC 5 Responds. “Outside of that, the IRS has hundreds of people in the same position that they're trying to get through."
For as many reasons as the IRS may have overlooked consumers like Rose, the agency says there is a simple fix here.
In a statement to NBC5, a spokesperson offered this information:
The most current information is on IRS.gov.
If you didn’t get the full Economic Impact Payment, you may be eligible to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit.
If you didn’t get any payments or got less than the full amounts, you may qualify for the credit, even if you don’t normally file taxes. See Recovery Rebate Credit for more information.
Form 1040 and 1040-SR Instructions - Recovery Rebate Credit Worksheet
If eligible, you can claim the Recovery Rebate Credit on 2020 Form 1040 or 1040-SR. The 2020 Instructions for Form 1040 and Form 1040-SR will include a worksheet you can use to figure the amount of any credit for which you are eligible.
As was the case with the advance payment of the credit called the Economic Impact Payment, your recovery rebate is up to $2,400 if you file a joint tax return or up to $1,200 for all other eligible individuals. Those with qualifying children will receive up to an additional $500 per qualifying child. Your recovery rebate amount will be phased out if your adjusted gross income for 2020 exceeds $150,000 if you are married filing a joint return, $112,500 if you are using the head of household filing status, or $75,000 if you are using any other filing status.
Because the Economic Impact Payment you received in 2020 was an advance of the recovery rebate, the worksheet provides you a Recovery Rebate Credit to the extent your recovery rebate amount is more than your Economic Impact Payment.
NBC5 Responds will follow along with Rose as she attempts to file her 2020 returns, and hopes the relief money comes through.
“Oh, you have no idea how much of a relief it will be,” she told NBC 5 Responds. “I could have a savings cushion … and even finally buy ice cream.”