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Didn’t receive your $1,200 relief check? You may still be eligible for one.

Janet Nguyen Sep 23, 2020

Didn’t receive your $1,200 relief check? You may still be eligible for one.

Janet Nguyen Sep 23, 2020

Americans who aren’t required to file a federal income tax return may qualify for stimulus checks that were approved as part of the government’s COVID-19 relief package passed earlier this year.

The IRS is sending letters to about 9 million Americans who haven’t filed a return for 2018 or 2019, but may qualify for Economic Impact Payments. Non-filers are individuals whose income is less than $12,000, and married couples whose joint income is less than $24,400.

The relief package authorized one-time stimulus checks, which are technically known as relief checks, of up to $1,200 for individuals, $2,400 for married couples and $500 for each qualifying child. 

Immigrants, retirees and students who aren’t being claimed on their parents’ tax returns often fall into the nonfiler category, according to Louis Barajas, a financial planner at MGO Wealth Advisors.

The IRS states that you are likely eligible for an Economic Impact Payment if you are a U.S. citizen or if you are a permanent resident but don’t have citizenship; have a work-eligible Social Security number, and can’t be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s federal income tax return.   

You have until Oct. 15 to register in order to receive an Economic Impact Payment sent out by the end of the year. After that date, you can still claim the payment as a credit on your tax return the following year as long as you file a federal income tax return. Recipients can register for Economic Impact Payments here.

Francine Lipman, a law professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, noted that if your income didn’t qualify you for a payment based on your 2019 income tax return, but you became unemployed in 2020, you can also claim your stimulus money as a tax credit when you file your 2020 tax return in 2021. (The payment is phased out for individuals who make more than $99,000.)

In most cases, claiming a refund must be filed within three years, which Lipman said means you have until 2024 to file a return to get your money back. 

There is a stimulus payment helpline that will help nonfilers claim their refunds. 

The IRS has released a state-by-state breakdown of the letters it’s sent out, with California, Texas and Florida having the highest number of recipients.   

“Everybody’s gone through a lot of ups and downs in 2020. There are a lot of people who are hurting,” Barajas said. “The goal is to get that money and eventually use it to pay for your rent or pay the bill.”

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

What’s the outlook for vaccine supply?

Chief executives of America’s COVID-19 vaccine makers promised in congressional testimony to deliver the doses promised to the U.S. government by summer. The projections of confidence come after months of supply chain challenges and companies falling short of year-end projections for 2020. What changed? In part, drugmakers that normally compete are now actually helping one another. This has helped solve several supply chain issues, but not all of them.

How has the pandemic changed scientific research?

Over the past year, while some scientists turned their attention to COVID-19 and creating vaccines to fight it, most others had to pause their research — and re-imagine how to do it. Social distancing, limited lab capacity — “It’s less fun, I have to say. Like, for me the big part of the science is discussing the science with other people, getting excited about projects,” said Isabella Rauch, an immunologist at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland. Funding is also a big question for many.

What happened to all of the hazard pay essential workers were getting at the beginning of the pandemic?

Almost a year ago, when the pandemic began, essential workers were hailed as heroes. Back then, many companies gave hazard pay, an extra $2 or so per hour, for coming in to work. That quietly went away for most of them last summer. Without federal action, it’s mostly been up to local governments to create programs and mandates. They’ve helped compensate front-line workers, but they haven’t been perfect. “The solutions are small. They’re piecemeal,” said Molly Kinder at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. “You’re seeing these innovative pop-ups because we have failed overall to do something systematically.”

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