Stimulus Checks

Economic Impact Payments

The U.S. government has used Economic Impact Payments (commonly referred to as stimulus checks) alongside unemployment boosts and other benefits in order to help offset income lost and inequality due to the COVID-19 epidemic. Below is information that can help you track your payment(s) and understand the process. 

Updated: May 2021

Frequently asked questions

Economic Impact Payments

How many stimulus checks have there been?


As of May 2021, the IRS is currently issuing a 3rd stimulus check to every eligible American. The first stimulus checks were released as part of the CARES Act funding and hit peoples accounts starting in April 2020. The checks had a maximum of $1,200 for single persons. The second stimulus checks were released as part of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 and hit peoples accounts starting in December 2020. The checks had a maximum of $600 for single persons. The third round of stimulus checks were relased as part of the American Rescue Plan and hit people's accounts starting in March 2021. The checks had a maximum of $1,400 for single persons.




Is everyone elible for stimulus checks?


Stimulus payments are different from most other tax benefits. People can get the payments even if they have little or no income and even if they do not usually file a tax return. All someone needs to receive a stimulus check is a Social Security number. That person must also not be claimed as a dependant on another persons tax returns.




How do I get my payments if I am experiencing homelessness/do not have a bank account?


The IRS is specifically trying to reach out to those who are experiencing homelessness and/or those who are unbanked. If you do not file taxes or do not have a bank account, you will need to provide information to the IRS to get this 3rd payment. While these payments continue to be made automatically to most people, the IRS cannot issue a payment to eligible Americans when information about them is not available in the tax agency’s systems.




I never got my first, second, and/or third payments...Can I still receive them?


People who did not receive the first two economic impact payments can still qualify for those payments by claiming the Recovery Rebate Credit. If you’re eligible for the payments – and either didn’t receive Economic Impact Payments or if you think you qualify for more than you received – you’ll need to file a 2020 tax return and claim the Recovery Rebate Credit even if you otherwise are not required to file a tax return. For those who are not required to file their taxes, there is a special section on IRS.gov that can help: Claiming the 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit if you are not required to file a tax return. Filing your taxes (if you make under $72,000/year) is free on the IRS website.




How do I know if I am eligible for the THIRD payment?


More people qualify for the 3rd EIP than earlier payments. Here’s what is different:

  • Payment amounts. Most families will get $1,400 per person, including all eligible dependents claimed on their tax return.
  • Qualifying dependents. Not restricted to children under 17. Eligible individuals will get a payment based on all their qualifying dependents claimed on their return.
  • Taxpayers who file using an ITIN may be eligible to receive a third payment for their qualifying dependent. Up to $1,400 per qualified dependent who has a valid SSN can be received if the taxpayer does not have a valid SSN but meets all the other eligibility and income requirements.




How do I receive my payment(s)?


The IRS will use available information to determine eligibility and issue the 3rd payment to eligible people who:

  1. Filed a 2020 tax return

  2. Filed a 2019 tax return if the 2020 tax return has not been submitted or processed yet

  3. Did not file a 2020 or 2019 tax return but registered for the first EIP payment with the Non-Filers tool in 2020

  4. Are federal benefit recipients who do not usually file a tax return.

NOTE: If none of the above applies, the individual will need to file a 2020 federal tax return.

The former IRS non-filer tool is no longer available. Individuals who do not normally file a return will need to file a 2020 tax return to receive this 3rd EIP.




Why haven't I received my payment yet?


Refund and payment status: People can check the status of their tax refund using Where’s My Refund? at IRS.gov or call 800-829-1954 for automated refund information. They can check the status of their third Economic Impact Payment using Get My Payment on IRS.gov. IRS phone assistors do not have more information than what is available in this online tool.





Tax FAQ for Persons Experiencing Homeless

Why should I file my taxes when I am not required? The Earned Income Tax Credit


For people experiencing homelessness who have a job, filing a return often carries a bonus —getting a refund based on various tax benefits, especially the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for low- and moderate-income workers and working families. The EITC is for workers who do not earn a high income. Like many other workers, some workers experiencing homelessness earned too little income during 2020 to owe tax but still qualify for the credit. For 2020, the income limit is $56,844. Those who make less than this amount must also meet other eligibility requirements. Because it is a refundable credit, those who qualify and claim the credit could pay less federal tax, pay no tax, or even get a tax refund. The EITC can put up to $6,660 into a worker’s pocket. The amount varies depending upon the worker’s income, marital status, and other factors. The IRS recognizes that eligible workers experiencing homelessness often encounter unique challenges not faced by other people. To find out if they’re eligible, people can use the EITC Assistant on IRS.gov.




What is the Childhood Tax Credit?


Taxpayers with children may also be eligible for the Child Tax Credit. Some people will be able to get advance payments of the child tax credit later this year. Those who qualify for advance payments just need to file a 2020 tax return. There have been important changes to the Child Tax Credit that will help many families receive advance payments starting this summer. The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021 expands the Child Tax Credit (CTC) for tax year 2021 only. The expanded credit means:

  • The credit amounts will increase for many taxpayers.
  • The credit for qualifying children is fully refundable, which means that taxpayers can benefit from the credit even if they don't have earned income or don't owe any income taxes.
  • The credit will include children who turn age 17 in 2021.
Taxpayers may receive part of their credit in 2021 before filing their 2021 tax return. For tax year 2021, families claiming the CTC will receive up to $3,000 per qualifying child between the ages of 6 and 17 at the end of 2021. They will receive $3,600 per qualifying child under age 6 at the end of 2021. Under the prior law, the amount of the CTC was up to $2,000 per qualifying child under the age of 17 at the end of the year. For more information on the Child Tax Credit click here.




What if I do not have a permanent address?


Permanent address not required People can claim an Economic Impact Payment or other credits even if they don’t have a permanent address. For example, someone experiencing homelessness may list the address of a friend, relative or trusted service provider, such as a shelter, drop-in day center or transitional housing program, on the return filed with the IRS. If they are unable to choose direct deposit, a check for the tax refund and a check or debit card for the 3rd EIP can then be mailed to this address. Also, free post office boxes may be available by applying to the local post office. The postal service also has “General Delivery” mail service for people without a permanent address.




What if I am residing in a shelter?


Homeless shelters count as a home. A worker experiencing homelessness can get EITC. To get the credit, federal law requires that a worker live in the U.S. for more than half of the year and meet other requirements. This means living in a home in any of the 50 states or the District of Columbia. Therefore, individuals experiencing homelessness, including those who reside at one or more homeless shelters, can meet that requirement.




What if I don't have a bank account?


Options for people without a bank account for direct deposit

Many financial institutions will help a person lacking an account to open a low-cost or no-cost bank account. Individuals who open accounts will then have an account and routing number available when they file and claim a direct deposit of the EIP payment.

Please visit the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) website for details, in both English and Spanish, on opening an account online. Among other things, people can also use the FDIC’s BankFind tool to locate a nearby FDIC-insured bank. In addition, BankOn, American Bankers Association, Independent Community Bankers of America, National Credit Union Administration have all compiled lists of banks and credit unions that can open an account online.

For veterans, see the Veterans Benefits Banking Program (VBBP) for access to financial services at participating banks.

For those with a prepaid debit card, they may be able to have their refund applied to the card. Many reloadable prepaid cards or mobile payment apps have account and routing numbers that can be provided to the IRS. Individuals would need to check with the financial institution to ensure the card can be used and to obtain the routing number and account number, which may be different from the card number.




What if I can't afford to file my taxes?


File for free.
The fastest and easiest way to get the 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit and EITC or to get the third EIP payment is to file a return electronically using IRS Free File. People can use a smartphone or computer to visit IRS.gov and click the File Your Taxes for Free link.
Through the Free File system, anyone who qualifies for the EITC also qualifies to use brand-name software to prepare and electronically file their return for free. The IRS urges anyone experiencing homelessness who has access to a smartphone or computer to take advantage of this service.