By Andrew Keshner
The Internal Revenue Service recently churned out another 2.2 million stimulus checks — and it’s a great reminder that it’s critical for people to submit a tax return even if they usually don’t make enough money to file one.
The IRS has been distributing the $1,400 checks since March and just over half of the latest batch is going to people who previously had not filed a tax return but recently did, according to a Treasury Department announcement.
Those recent filers include people who don’t make enough money to owe taxes. Typically, if someone is single and under age 65, they’re only required to file a 2020 federal tax return if they made more than $12,400. For married couples filing jointly who are under age 65, they have to file a 2020 return if they made over $24,800.
But taxpayers can still file a return even if their income is under those limits. When they submit a tax return, they’re getting on the IRS’ radar screen and that gives the tax agency the information it needs to send along stimulus checks, also called Economic Impact Payments.
It also gives the IRS the information it needs to start sending monthly payments under the enhanced child tax credit payments , as well as the information it needs to send money for unclaimed first- and second-round stimulus payments.
Within the latest batch of 2.2 million stimulus checks, 1.3 million of them — accounting for $2.6 billion of the batch’s more than $4 billion total — went to people who recently filed a tax return.
By now, the IRS has distributed more than 171 million payments valued at more than $400 billion.
People making under $72,000 can use the IRS’ Free File Program to use free tax software to do their taxes. Full stimulus check payouts apply to individuals making under $75,000 and married couples making up to $150,000.
Though the deadline to file and pay taxes came and went on May 17, people who asked for extensions have until Oct. 15. But there’s no penalty to file late if a taxpayer doesn’t owe taxes. It doesn’t even matter if the taxpayer did not seek an extension, Intuit /zigman2/quotes/203136605/composite INTU +0.23% , the maker of TurboTax, noted .
The new Treasury Department announcement is also a reminder of the importance of quickly filing 2020 tax returns.
As the IRS sends out the third round of checks, it is either looking at 2020 tax returns to determine eligibility, or 2019 returns if the latest returns are not available yet. If a 2020 return arrives after the payment went out, but the 2020 return showed eligibility for more stimulus cash — like a new child in the house — the IRS will send out a “plus up” payment.
The IRS has sent out more than 900,000 extra payments, valued at more than $1.6 billion, in the last six weeks, the Treasury Department said. Overall, the feds have sent out more than 9 million “plus up” payments that are worth around $18.5 billion.