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Don't lose the IRS letter you got after your third stimulus check. Here's what to do with it

Around three weeks after getting your third stimulus payment, you should've received an IRS letter in the mail with the president's signature. You shouldn't toss it in the trash.

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Keep that letter from the IRS confirming your recent stimulus payment. 

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If your third stimulus check has arrived, your next step is to look for a letter from the IRS in the mail confirming your payment. The IRS has sent out 164 million payments through direct deposit and mail since March, with payments going out weekly. If you think you got the wrong payment amount (check your amount here) or you still haven't received your payment, keep the IRS letter when it arrives.

If for any reason you can't find the letter (Notice 1444-C), we'll tell you how to get a copy so you can claim any missing third stimulus check through an IRS payment trace. For example, if the IRS based your stimulus payment amount on your 2019 taxes, but you made less money in 2020, you could be eligible for more money than you got. This could be the case if you had a new baby or gained a dependent that the IRS didn't account for when calculating your payment total. Note that If you had a change of address recently, you should inform both the IRS and the US Postal Service

Don't forget that May 17 is the official Tax Day this year. You could be one of the millions of people who didn't get 2020 stimulus payments that you were eligible for, in which case you need to claim a recovery rebate credit when you file your 2020 tax return. You can use our first stimulus payment calculator and second payment calculator to see your estimated total. You can also read more about a fourth stimulus check and how you could get a discount on your internet bill.

The IRS notice is much more important than you think

The IRS letter that arrives about 15 days after your third stimulus check, which confirms your payment, is officially called Notice 1444-C. Signed by President Joe Biden, the letter shows you the amount you were paid and how you were paid -- by mail or direct deposit. The letter also advises you to check the Get My Payment tracker or call a phone number at the bottom of the letter if you haven't received your check.

With the two first stimulus payments, the IRS also sent a confirmation letter in the mail within 15 days of your payment going out -- Notices 1444-A and 1444-B. Those two letters could help you claim missing stimulus money on your taxes this year.

If you believe you received the wrong amount -- such as if a dependent was skipped -- or the total doesn't match the estimated amount from our stimulus calculator, it could indicate that you may need to hunt down your missing money using this letter. The IRS advises you to hold on to the letter for your 2021 tax records. What this really means is that it's useful if you need to claim missing money in the future, as you can now on your 2020 taxes as a recovery rebate credit for the first two checks.

Here's more information on using the recovery rebate credit worksheet to figure out the credit from the first two checks that you can claim on your 2020 taxes. You'll enter the total amount you determine you're owed on line 30 of the 2020 1040 (PDF) or 1040-SR (PDF) tax forms.

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Make sure the IRS has your most up-to-date mailing address

The IRS would have mailed a notice to your last known address with information on your payment. You'll need to inform the IRS and USPS if you've moved. The IRS needs to independently have your correct information on file.

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The IRS is still sending out third stimulus payments. 

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If you lost the IRS letter or never got it, here's what you can do

If you don't have the IRS confirmation letter, you should be able to find the information in your federal tax account, using the IRS website. 

If you don't have an account set up with the IRS, head to the agency's account page and tap the blue button that says Create or view your account to get started. You'll need to have some information on hand to set up your account, including tax and financial information, plus an email address and a mobile phone number to receive activation codes. For married couples filing jointly, each spouse will need to log in to their own account.

You can register with the IRS online to check your account

The IRS online registration process can take about 15 minutes. During the setup process, the IRS will first email and then text you two activation codes. If the codes don't come through, the agency will mail you a letter with an activation code, which can take five to 10 days to get to you. If you want to track the letter, you can use this free service from the USPS.

Once you've set up your online account with the IRS, you can check your account for the information contained in the notice. If your stimulus payment information is not available when you check, the IRS said it should be in the coming weeks.

Here's more about tax season and your stimulus check, everything you need to know about the third stimulus check and what we know about child tax credit payments.