Tax guide

Do I have to file my 2019 tax return in order to get a stimulus payment?

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Updated September 16, 2020

If you haven’t filed your 2019 taxes, the IRS will use the adjusted gross income (AGI) from your 2018 tax return. If you haven’t filed in either year but were required to file, you should either file your 2018 or 2019 return as soon as possible.

If you collect certain government benefits but haven’t filed in either year because you are usually not required to file, the IRS will coordinate with the appropriate organization to know where to send your Economic Impact Payment. This group includes:

  • Social Security recipients
  • Railroad Retirement recipients
  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) recipients
  • VA benefit recipients
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients

You’ll receive your EIP as you would normally receive your benefits, either through direct deposit or by paper check. If you receive government benefits, aren’t required to file a tax return, and never received the additional $500 per qualifying child, use the Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info tool to update your information. SS, SSI, RR, and VA recipients must act before Wednesday, September 30 to receive their additional payment in October.

It is unclear whether SSDI recipients could qualify for this window to update their information, but it doesn’t hurt to try—at the end of the day, you should receive your additional $500 when you receive your refund in 2021 if you don’t get it sooner.

For those who didn’t file a tax return in 2018 or 2019 and don’t receive any of the benefits listed above, the IRS has released the Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info tool so you can register for your Economic Impact Payment.


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