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Ask the Expert: Stimulus payments and the Recovery Rebate Credit

Q: My grandson's parents couldn't claim any stimulus money for him based on their 2019 tax return because he wasn't born until 2020. Can they claim it on their 2020 tax return?

A: Yes. Eligible parents can receive up to $1,100 — $500 for the first stimulus payment and $600 for the second payment — for a baby born or adopted in 2020.

Married couples filing jointly with 2020 adjusted gross income (AGI) up to $150,000, and single parents filing as heads of household with AGI up to up to $112,500, qualify for the full $1,100 for 2020 babies.

They can claim the money as a Recovery Rebate Credit on their 2020 tax return. This tax is refundable: It will reduce their tax bill dollar for dollar or increase their tax refund.

Q: What if you don't receive your second stimulus check in the mail? Can you claim it on your 2020 federal tax return? What if you file your taxes early, and your second stimulus payment later comes in the mail? Do you mail the check or debit card to the IRS?

A: No, no. If you get a duplicate payment by mistake, save it and wait for the IRS to inform you how to handle the situation.

You can claim a missing payment as a tax credit, as explained above. Eligible taxpayers who didn't receive a payment, or were ineligible based on their 2019 tax return, but qualify based on their 2020 return should complete the Recovery Rebate Credit worksheet, which is included with federal income tax forms this year. The amount determined on the worksheet goes on Line 30 of Form 1040.

The bottom line

Eligible taxpayers who didn't receive their federal stimulus check, or received less than they qualified for, should claim a Recovery Rebate Credit on their 2020 tax return.

More information

TO ASK THE EXPERT Send questions to Include your name, address and phone numbers. Questions can be answered only in this column. Advice is offered as general guidance. Check with your own consultants for your specific needs.

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