IRS stimulus check 3 timeline update: Watch out letter 6475

After President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act in March 2021, taxpayers around the country were thrilled by the news that they would receive a $1,400 stimulus check from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as part of ongoing pandemic relief efforts.

But for many eligible recipients, the checks never arrived, either due to clerical errors, odd glitches within the IRS system, or just plain-old administrative omissions. Some would-be recipients spent months communicating with other taxpayers in Facebook groups, calling the always-jammed IRS phone lines, and even contacting their local representatives in Congress to no avail. In the end, many simply gave up hope that they’d ever see the money they were owed.

Now that tax season is rolling around again, you still have one last chance to get paid—by claiming your third Economic Impact Payment on your 2021 taxes. It’s called a Recovery Rebate Credit, and this is the second year in a row that tax forms will include an option to claim one. 

Even better, the IRS will tell you if you’re eligible so you won’t be left guessing. The agency said last month that it will send all recipients of the third stimulus check a hard-copy letter (Letter 6475) that will help them determine if they can claim the Recovery Rebate Credit. For example, if this letter says you received a payment, but you never actually did—or you only received part of it—you should be able to claim the missing portion. This also applies to supplemental payments that were made later in the year to people whose tax situations changed, known as “plus-up” payments.

The IRS says it will send these letters in late January (although be warned: It’s been known to miss its own estimated timelines in the past), so be on the lookout for them in your mailbox, and don’t toss anything from the IRS in the trash. The 2022 tax season officially begins on January 24. 

Most Americans who were eligible for the third stimulus check did eventually receive them. However, many were ensnared for months by the sometimes-messy rollout of the payments. As Fast Company reported in October, some taxpayers were deemed ineligible for the payments after an IRS glitch mistakenly identified them as residents of U.S. territories. We’ve since heard from some taxpayers in that situation who finally did receive their checks.