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Guide to second round of COVID-19 (stimulus) Economic Impact Payments

At the end of December 2020, the federal government extended additional financial relief to millions of Americans through a second round of Economic Impact Payments (EIPs) issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Many Americans will receive a payment of $600 per person. The IRS emphasizes that there is no action required by eligible individuals who received the first EIP.

If you received the first round of payments in 2020, but didn’t receive a second EIP via direct deposit, you will generally receive a check or, in some instances, a debit card. The issuance of check and debit card payments concluded in January 2021.

If you were eligible for an EIP but did not receive all of it – either the first or the second round of payments – you will be able to claim it when you file your 2020 taxes in 2021.

The IRS urges taxpayers who didn’t receive a payment to review the eligibility criteria when they file their 2020 taxes. Many people, including recent college graduates, may be eligible to claim it. People will see the EIP referred to as the Recovery Rebate Credit on IRS Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR because EIPs are an advance payment of the Recovery Rebate Credit .

Here is what you need to know:

How do I know if I’m eligible?

While your adjusted gross income determines how much money you’ll receive, the basic eligibility requirements for this second round of EIP remain the same as the first round of EIP . To qualify for a payment, you must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or U.S. resident alien
  • Not be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return
  • Have a valid Social Security Number (SSN)

New: Married couples with only one valid SSN can receive an EIP

One important change with the second round of payments: married couples that have only one person with a valid SSN are now eligible to receive an EIP for the spouse who has a valid SSN and for dependent children under 17 who have a valid SSN. If you are eligible and don’t receive an automatic payment, you may claim it and an amount for the first EIP when you file your 2020 taxes by completing the IRS’s Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR .

How much am I eligible to receive?

With this second EIP, the majority of Americans can expect to receive $600 per person. In a household, this means a married couple, which files a joint tax return, can receive $1,200, as well as $600 for each dependent child under 17.

The amount you receive will be based on:

  • Your adjusted gross income
  • Tax filing status
  • The number of qualifying children under the age of 17

Similar to the first EIP, the IRS will use the information from your 2019 tax return to determine how much you’re qualified to receive. If you don’t typically file your taxes because you have limited income, you’re still eligible to receive a payment.

Payments are automatic for eligible taxpayers who filed a 2019 tax return, those who receive Social Security retirement, survivor or disability benefits (SSDI), Railroad Retirement benefits as well as Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and Veterans Affairs beneficiaries who didn’t file a tax return. Payments are also automatic for anyone who successfully registered for the first payment online at IRS.gov using the agency’s Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here tool by November 21, 2020, or who submitted a simplified tax return that has been processed by the IRS.

Eligibility based on your adjusted gross income

The income eligibility also remains the same as the first round of payments. Payments start declining if your adjusted gross income, based on your 2019 tax return, is over the following income thresholds:


Tax filing status

Adjusted gross income limit

Single or married but filing separately

$75,000

Married and filing jointly

$150,000 per couple

Head of household

$112,500


If your adjusted gross income is above these limits, the amount you receive will be reduced by $5 for every $100 over these thresholds. The income at which the credit is reduced to $0 is greater the more dependent children under 17 you have. But also note: Because the payment in this round is lower (e.g., $600 instead of $1200 for single filers with no dependent children) the payment will be reduced to $0 at a lower income than the previous EIP (e.g., $87,000 instead of $99,000 for single filers with no dependent children).

Eligibility if you don’t typically file your taxes

Similar to the first round of payments, individuals who don’t typically file their taxes because of limited income or are beneficiaries of government programs, like Social Security, are still eligible to receive a second EIP. If you received funds through Direct Express in the first round, for example, you will receive it this way again.

If you are eligible but didn’t receive your first or second EIP, you may claim a 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit on line 30 of your 2020 tax return . Please refer to the instructions for the 2020 Form 1040 for more information.

How will I receive my payments?

For most Americans, this second round of EIP will be delivered in the same way that you received your first EIP. Payments will be delivered through direct deposit into your bank account, by check, or through a prepaid debit cards sent by the government.

According to the IRS , payments are automatic to many eligible individuals. No further action is required by eligible individuals who received the first EIP.

Direct Deposit

If the IRS has your bank account information on file, your payment will be automatically directly deposited into your account.

Check or Prepaid Debit Card

If you’re not set up with direct deposit, you’ll receive your payment by check or through a prepaid debit card issued by the government. How you received your first payment may be different than how you’ll receive this payment. The debit cards issued for the first payments will not be “reloaded,” and therefore will not be used for this second round of EIP.

To make the process as quick as possible, the Bureau of the Fiscal Service, part of the Treasury Department, will be sending some payments through EIP debit cards. EIP Cards are sponsored by the Treasury Department’s Bureau of the Fiscal Service, managed by Money Network Financial, LLC and issued by Treasury’s financial agent, MetaBank®, N.A.

The EIP Card will be sent in a white envelope from “Economic Impact Payment Card” and will display the U.S. Department of the Treasury Seal. The card has the Visa name on the front and the issuing bank, MetaBank®, N.A., on the back. Information included with the EIP Card will explain that this is your Economic Impact Payment. If you receive an EIP Card, visit EIPcard.com for more information.

If you didn't receive the first or second EIP

If you are eligible but didn’t receive your first or second EIP, you may claim a 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit on line 30 of your 2020 tax return . Please refer to the instructions for the 2020 Form 1040 for more information. Find out more on the IRS website.

Also, when filing your 2020 tax return, you can select whether you’d like to receive your payment through direct deposit, check, or to have it uploaded onto an existing prepaid card.

Learn about free or low-cost ways to file your taxes

I am incarcerated. Am I eligible for stimulus funds?

Yes, if you meet all of the criteria.

If you’re currently incarcerated, you may use your institution address as your home address on Form 1040, even if it’s a P.O. Box. Include your corrections or inmate identifying number in the section at the top so the IRS can mail you the payment. It’s best to add it near your last name.

If you used the IRS Non-Filers tool or filed a tax return for 2018 or 2019 (including a joint tax return with your spouse), you DO NOT need to do anything else.

If you didn’t receive your first or second EIP payment yet, follow these steps.

If your agency or organization works with offenders or parolees or has a prisoner re-entry program, see the IRS Prison Reentry Program.

If you receive Social Security, disability or other government benefits

If you receive one of the following government benefits, you will likely receive the second EIP in the same way that you received the first EIP and likely in the same way you receive your benefits, including through Direct Express:

  • Social Security retirement, survivor, or disability (SSDI) from the Social Security Administration
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) from the Social Security Administration
  • Railroad Retirement and Survivors from the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board
  • Veterans disability compensation, pension, or survivor benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs

I don't think I received as much EIP as I should have. What should I do?

Here are some situations where your first or second EIP may be less than the amount for which you are eligible:

  • You don’t normally file taxes and didn’t provide your information to the IRS
  • You had a child in 2020 and were eligible to receive $500 for EIP 1 and $600 for EIP 2
  • You are a married couple, filing jointly, where only one person has a valid SSN

In all of these cases, you may be eligible for the Recovery Rebate Credit . To receive your credit, you’ll need to file an income tax return using the IRS’s 2020 Form 1040 or 1040 SR .

Keep in mind that you may be eligible for other tax benefits, including additional tax credits such as the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Credit, and can claim these if you file a return. Also, you may qualify for free tax preparation services. Learn about free or low-cost ways to file your taxes .

Complete the 2020 IRS Form 1040 or 1040 SR to receive your Recovery Rebate Credit

What do I do if my bank or credit union has taken my EIP to cover fees or overdrafts?

It is lawful, in most states, for your bank or credit union to take your funds for money you owe to the bank. If you think you didn’t receive your full payment because your bank took some of it to cover money owed to the bank, call them and ask for them to give you access to all of the funds. Your bank may be willing to give you access to your full Economic Impact Payment. Sometimes they do this by giving you a temporary credit for the fees you owe them. If that happens to you, make sure you find out when you must pay them back.

Use the following conversation points to help you ask your bank, credit union, or prepaid card provider for help:

Explain your financial situation is a result of COVID-19 and ask for a temporary credit for any amount for which you are overdrawn.

  • You can say: “I’m really struggling right now because of the pandemic. Can you waive the fees so I can access my full Economic Impact Payment? Other banks are waving these fees. Are you sure you can’t do the same?”
  • If your bank or credit union has already seized your funds, you can say: “I noticed that you withheld some of my stimulus and/or unemployment payment to cover an overdraft fee. May I please have a refund of that amount?”

Remember, when speaking with your financial institution, always be prepared. Have all your statements available and ask for them to explain any and all fees that were applied to your account.

How do I check the status of my payment?

People can check the status of both their first and second payments and how the payment is delivered (direct deposit, check, or debit card) by using the Get My Payment tool , available in English and Spanish only, on IRS.gov.

For more information on the second round of EIPs, visit IRS.gov.

Beware of scammers pretending to be the IRS

With the rollout of EIPs, there’s an increased risk of scams. It’s important to stay vigilant and aware of unsolicited communications asking for your personal or private information—through mail, email, phone call, text, social media or websites—that:

  • Ask you to verify your SSN, bank account, or credit card information
  • Suggest that you can get a faster payment if they fill out information on your behalf or if you sign over your check to them
  • Send you a bogus check, perhaps in an odd amount, and then ask you to call a number or verify information online in order to cash that check

It’s important to remember that the Internal Revenue Service will never ask you for your personal information or threaten your benefits by phone call, email, text or social media.

If you receive an unsolicited email, text, or social media attempt that appears to be from the IRS or an organization associated with the IRS, like the Department of the Treasury Electronic Federal Tax Payment System, notify the IRS at phishing@irs.gov. You can also learn more about coronavirus-related scams.

Check the IRS’s website for more information about the EIPs .