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Here's who may still be eligible for up to $1.6 billion in stimulus checks

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Thousands of Americans may still be owed a third government stimulus check — a payment of $1,400 per eligible taxpayer that was authorized by the American Rescue Act in 2021.

About 645,000 potentially eligible people hadn't gotten a third stimulus check by the middle of September 2021, according to a new report from the Treasury Department's Inspector General for Tax Administration. Some of those people received checks after September, but the report didn't identify how many of those taxpayers have received their payments since then. 

The amount of the unpaid stimulus checks isn't small, with the Treasury estimating the balance at $1.6 billion. 

To be sure, the bulk of payments from the third round of stimulus checks have been distributed, with the IRS sending checks to more than 175 million taxpayers. But some people may have fallen through the cracks, while the current tax season may provide an opportunity for them to claim the overdue payment. 

The IRS on March 30 said it is no longer issuing first-, second-, or third-round stimulus checks. But taxpayers who missed a check or didn't get the amount they were entitled to can claim the extra payment as a Recovery Rebate Credit on their 2020 or 2021 federal tax return, the agency said. 

For instance, some families who had a new child in 2021 may not have received the third stimulus check for their new addition. Because the IRS relied on the previous year's tax return to determine eligibility, the tax agency would not have known about children born or adopted in 2021. 

And some people whose incomes declined in 2021 could also qualify for more stimulus money. Because the checks were phased out above certain amounts — such as a $160,000 income cutoff for married couples — people whose earnings declined in 2021 below that threshold could qualify for more money. 

Who missed out?

Most of the people who missed getting a $1,400 check they were entitled to are individuals with an ITIN — an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number — who didn't receive a payment for an eligible dependent, Treasury said. About 420,000 people in this category hadn't gotten their checks as of last fall, the report noted.

ITINs are typically used by workers who don't have a Social Security number but who are required to file taxes. Under the American Rescue Plan, parents with ITNs who have dependents with a valid Social Security number could receive the payment for their children. 

More than 130,000 people may have missed out on the third stimulus check due to a glitch related to unemployment payments. The American Rescue Act excluded the first $10,200 of unemployment payments from taxable income for 2020, but some taxpayers may have already filed their taxes before that change was made.

"These taxpayers will need to claim the 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit on their Tax Year 2021 returns," Treasury said. 

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Thousands of other taxpayers may not have received their third stimulus check due to an "unresolved condition" in their tax account or who changed their filing status, the agency added.

The IRS said that people can check how much they received — or whether they received a check at all — by logging in to their IRS Online Account

"Individuals are encouraged to double-check their bank accounts — especially in early spring and summer of 2021 — to see whether they received a third-round payment in advance last year," the agency noted on March 30. 

If taxpayers didn't get a third stimulus check but their IRS Online Account shows they received a payment, the individual "should contact the IRS as soon as possible to see if a payment trace is needed," it added.

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