You Can Still Claim $1,400 Stimulus Checks and 2021 Child Tax Credits

The IRS says that stimulus payments and 2021 child tax credits are still available for eligible individuals who haven’t received them.

Calculator showing 2021 next to piggy bank
(Image credit: Getty Images)

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government sent stimulus payments to millions of eligible Americans. Those stimulus payments, which were made from April 2020 to December 2021, included temporarily enhanced child tax credits that helped to reduce child poverty in the U.S. But it turns out that millions of people, including lower-income individuals and families, that are eligible for the COVID stimulus payments, and the enhanced child tax credit, didn't receive them.

Thankfully though, the IRS says that some eligible taxpayers may be able to get missed stimulus payments. Depending on your circumstances, you may still be able to file a 2021 tax return to find out if you’re eligible to get your stimulus payment, the 2021 child tax credit, or the earned income tax credit.

Can I Still Get a Stimulus Payment?

If you think you’re eligible for a COVID stimulus payment or the 2021 child tax credit, and didn’t already receive those funds, you may still be able to file your 2021 tax return to see if you're eligible to get those funds. 

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That's because with respect to the child tax credit, if you don't owe taxes to the IRS, the IRS has said that you can file your 2021 tax return and claim the child tax credit for the 2021 tax year, at any point until April 15, 2025. But because that can get confusing, it's probably best to file for the 2021 tax year as soon as you can. Visit ChildTaxCredit.gov for more information.

According to the Government Accountability Office,  groups that were most likely to have missed out on pandemic relief stimulus payments or the child tax credit (or both), were people who never filed a tax return or who filed for the first time during the pandemic. The federal government also had difficulty getting stimulus checks and child tax credits to people without bank accounts or reliable internet access, and people who were experiencing homelessness in 2020 and 2021.

If the IRS had banking information on file, COVID stimulus payments were direct deposited. Other stimulus payments and child tax credits were mailed. So, if you didn’t receive stimulus money, or didn’t receive the third stimulus payment, you might be able to claim a recovery rebate credit on your 2021 tax return. 

To help get the word out about these tax benefits, the IRS announced in October that it was sending letters to individuals and families who appeared to qualify for these stimulus benefits but did not claim them by filing a 2021 federal income tax return. That included people eligible not only for the 2021 recovery rebate credit and the child tax credit but also the earned income tax credit. 

Who is Eligible for the Child Tax Credit 2021?

Eligible Americans with income below $75,000, or married couples with income below $150,000, were eligible for the full amount of three rounds of stimulus payments that were made by the federal government in 2020 and 2021. Those stimulus income limitations also applied to the enhanced child tax credit although partial child tax credits were available for people with higher incomes.

Advance payments of the enhanced child tax credits were sent to people from July to December 2021. The monthly payments were up to $250 or $300 per child, for a period of six months.

Are There Child Tax Credits for 2022?

Even though you may be able to file a 2021 tax return to get your child tax credit (if you didn’t receive it), the federal enhanced 2021 child tax credit program has expired.

There is a chance that Congress could pass legislation to reinstate the enhanced child tax credit, but you’ll probably have to wait until the end of this year to see if that happens.

Is There a Stimulus Check for 2022?

In addition to the pandemic relief stimulus payments and the 2021 child tax credit, you may have heard about so called 2022 stimulus checks. Those 2022 stimulus checks are essentially rebates coming from various states—not pandemic stimulus payments from the federal government.

Why are states sending rebate checks? Because of pandemic relief funding, many states have extra cash on hand, and so are sending rebate checks to their residents in 2022. Some states like California, and Massachusetts are still sending those payments. But several other states will send rebates or have already sent them. 

To learn more about 2022 state stimulus checks, see State "Stimulus Checks" in 2022.

Kelley R. Taylor
Tax Editor, Kiplinger.com

With more than 20 years experience as an in-house legal counsel and business journalist, Kelley R. Taylor has contributed to numerous national print and digital magazines on key issues spanning education, law, health, finance, and tax. Kelley particularly enjoys translating complex information in ways that help empower people in their daily lives and work.