It’s not too late to file a tax return to claim your missing stimulus money! The IRS extended the tax-filing deadline to May 17, 2021. Even after the deadline, you can still file to claim your money! If you do not owe any Federal taxes, then you can file your return after the deadline without a penalty - in fact, you have 3 years to claim your refund.

Get Help with Your Taxes

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You could get thousands of dollars back, even if you don’t need to file a tax return.

Hundreds or even thousands of dollars are available in tax credits, especially for low-income individuals and families. Even if you are not required to file a tax return, you could receive a tax refund when you file taxes. For example, you may get money back by filing if you:

  • Had income tax withheld from your pay, pension, social security or other income
  • Work but earn less than $57,000
  • Care for your dependent children
  • Were eligible for but didn’t receive the first and/or second stimulus check
  • See the full list of those who can file to receive additional funds even if they don’t have to file

Filing your taxes right away could put you in line for a higher payment this year!

Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)

  • Eligible workers can qualify for a credit worth between $538-$6,660
  • Even if you have no children, you may be eligible
  • You can also receive the state Earned Income Credit. The Illinois credit is worth 18% of the Federal EITC
  • Use this EITC Eligibility Checker and check this EITC webpage to learn more

Child Tax Credit (CTC)

  • The CTC has been expanded for 2021. A family with two children could be eligible for as much as $7,200 for 2021. Eligible individuals can get up to $3,600 for each child under 6 and up to $3,000 for each child age 6-17.
  • You could receive half of your CTC as early as July! The IRS will start sending advance payments each month starting in July 2021. You can receive half of your 2021 CTC in 2021 and then the other half in 2022 when you file your 2021 taxes.
  • Be sure to file your 2020 tax return as soon as possible to make sure the IRS puts you on the list for the advance payments.
  • Check this 2021 CTC webpage to learn about the advance payments.
  • Check your eligibility for the 2020 CTC here.

Recovery Rebate Credit

  • If you are eligible for the stimulus checks from 2020 but you haven’t received the first and/or second stimulus check, you must file taxes to receive your checks
  • File a 2020 tax return and claim the Recovery Rebate Credit to receive your stimulus checks.

You may be eligible to use tax filing software for free! Learn more below.

Who is not required to file a 2020 return?
  • Individuals filing as single who earned less than $12,400 (or less than $14,050 if age 65 or older)
  • Married couples filing jointly who earned less than $24,800 (or less than $26,100 if one spouse was age 65 or older or less than $27,400 if both spouses were age 65 or older)
  • Individuals filing as married filing separately who earned less than $5
  • Individuals filing as head of household who earned less than $18,650 (or less than $20,300 if age 65 or older)
  • Individuals filing as qualifying widow(er) who earned less than $24,800 (or less than $26,100 if age 65 or older)

But, even if your income is under the limits shown above, there are other reasons why you still need to file, including;

  • Your net earnings from self-employment was $400 or more (please note that net earnings is how much money you made after subtracting expenses and that rideshare driving and many other kinds of gig work is considered self-employment income)
  • You had health insurance through the Marketplace and received money from the government to help pay your premiums
  • You have a Health Savings Account (HSA) and you received a distribution from your HSA

A full list of reasons why you might still need to file is found on the IRS website.

Still not sure if you need to file taxes? Learn more by using the IRS Do I Need to File a Tax Return tool.

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I need to file a return - what are my options?

File Online for Free

If you earn less than $72,000 a year, you are eligible to use online tax software at no cost through Free File on the IRS website. Be aware that while you can file a Federal return for free, you may have to pay a fee for filing a state return with some of the software brands available through IRS Free File - be sure to read all the details.

If you do not have income from a business (including self-employment income, like rideshare driving and other kinds of gig work), income or losses from investments, or income from rental property, then you may be eligible to use United Way’s MyFreeTaxes website.

If you want step-by-step guidance on how to use the IRS Free File version of TurboTax to file your 2020 return online for free, we have prepared videos and written guides:

For someone who received only Social Security benefits in 2020:

For someone who had only W-2 income in 2020:

You may be able to receive more money with your Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) this year! Due a new “look-back” provision in the last relief bill, you may receive a higher EITC and Child Tax Credit if you earned less in 2020 than in 2019. You can use your 2019 earnings to calculate those credits if that would give you higher credits than using your 2020 earnings. Be sure to have your 2019 tax return available when you prepare your 2020 tax return.

Get free tax help

If you earn less than $66,000 and don’t own rental property or a farm, you may be eligible for free tax help through Code for America’s Get Your Refund program: The website allows you to check EITC and CTC eligibility, as well as get connected to free online filing or a volunteer tax preparer for additional help. If you haven’t filed taxes any time in the last three years, the team can also help you claim past tax refunds.

You may also be eligible to have your taxes prepared for free by nonprofit organizations participating in the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. To find your nearest VITA site, visit

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