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$500 in missing stimulus money for your kids: To get it, you'll have to do your taxes first

The time has passed to file a claim for missing stimulus money. Here's what you can do now, and how to estimate the total amount you should get.

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You can still file to claim your missing $500 stimulus payment for child dependents. But not this year.

Angela Lang/CNET

If you weren't able to make the November deadline to claim $500 for each qualified child dependent that was left out of your first stimulus check in error, your second chance is coming up. The same general process applies for people who didn't get the $600 owed for each child dependent in the second stimulus check. You'll be able to claim the additional amount as a Recovery Rebate Credit when you file your 2020 tax return this year.

CNET's first stimulus check calculator and your adjusted gross income will help you determine the payment amount you were supposed to get in the initial check. Parents who pay or receive child support could each qualify for $500 per dependent with the first check, but they must share custody of a child dependent and may need to file a claim this year to get the payment. And in some cases, the IRS might also garnish a stimulus check to settle child support debts (that rule doesn't apply to the second check).

We'll provide more details about how to know if you're owed a stimulus payment and how you'll have to claim it now that tax time is almost here (hint: don't call the IRS). Meanwhile, read up on the second stimulus check, including who qualifies for more stimulus money --  and who doesn't. Here's what's going on with a third stimulus check and the current timeline for the new payment. This story was recently updated.

How do I know if I'm eligible for a stimulus check with child dependents?

To be eligible for a payment, you must be a US citizen, a permanent resident or a qualifying resident alien. You must also have a Social Security number and can't be claimed as a dependent of another taxpayer.

Here's where things get tricky. On the surface, the rules to claim a first stimulus check -- with or without a child dependent -- including having an adjusted gross income under $99,000 (single people), $146,500 (heads of household) or $198,000 (married couples filing jointly). But, and here's the big catch, because of the way the IRS calculates your stimulus check, you may actually be entitled to some money if you claim a child on your taxes, even if you exceed the income limit.

The CARES Act from March 2020 stipulates a $500 allowance per child dependent in addition to the $1,200 cap for single filers and up to $2,400 for couples filing jointly. (We've also calculated how much money you might be able to get for dependents in the second stimulus check.)

There may be specific details you'll want to explore if your child dependent is adopted, disabled (of any age) or a citizen of another country.

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How can I claim my missing $500 per child?

When you file your taxes this year, you can claim the additional amount on behalf of eligible dependents. According to the IRS:

For individuals who did not receive an Economic Impact Payment or the full amount that they believe they are entitled to, they will be able to claim the additional amount when they file a 2020 tax return in 2021. This will be called the Recovery Rebate Credit.

You can use the Recovery Rebate Credit on the 2020 Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR to claim a catch-up payment. The IRS will provide a Recovery Rebate Credit Worksheet to help you determine if you are missing a payment.

You'll be able to track the status of your IRS payment by visiting the IRS Get My Payment webpage. From there, you'll need to provide your Social Security number, date of birth, home address and ZIP code.

For more information, here's everything to know about stimulus payments. Here's what we know so far about a third stimulus check, including how much money it could be for, the IRS's potential timeline and every way it might be able to bring you more money.