Over 9M potentially eligible for unclaimed stimulus payments, tax credits: IRS

The IRS is sending letters starting this week to more than 9 million potentially eligible families and individuals for unclaimed tax credits and stimulus payments.

The agency says the letters are going to those who appear to qualify for a variety of key tax benefits but did not claim them by filing a 2021 federal income tax return. 

Many may be eligible to claim some or all of the 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit, the Child Tax Credit, the Earned Income Tax Credit and other tax credits depending on their personal and family situation.

How do I claim the credits?

The IRS says the only way to get the benefits is to file a 2021 tax return.

For this mailing, the IRS says it identified those who don't typically have a tax return filing requirement because they appear to have very low incomes, based on Forms W-2, 1099s and other third-party statements.

The letters are similar to a special IRS mailing made in September 2020 encouraging 9 million potential non-filers to submit a tax return for the first Economic Impact Payment. 

People can file a tax return even if they haven’t yet received their letter. There’s no penalty for a refund claimed on a tax return filed after the regular April 2022 tax deadline, says the IRS. The fastest and easiest way to get a refund is to file an accurate return electronically and choose direct deposit.

Free File to stay open until Nov. 17

To help people claim these benefits, without charge, Free File will remain open for an extra month this year, until Nov. 17. 

Free File enables people whose incomes are $73,000 or less to file a return online for free using brand-name software and is sponsored by the Free File Alliance, a partnership between the IRS and the tax-software industry, says the IRS.

People can also go online to file a 2021 income tax return. Individuals whose incomes are below $12,500 and couples whose incomes are below $25,000 may be able to file a simple tax return to claim the 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit—which covers any stimulus payment amounts from 2021 they may have missed—and the Child Tax Credit. 

Individuals do not need to have children in order to use ChildTaxCredit.gov/file to find the right filing solution for them.

Further details on all the benefits are available in a fact sheet.