comscore Kokua Line: People who don’t usually file federal income taxes must if they want to claim unpaid stimulus funds | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Hawaii News | Kokua Line

Kokua Line: People who don’t usually file federal income taxes must if they want to claim unpaid stimulus funds

Question: I didn’t get the second stimulus, although I am sure I should have qualified. You’ve written about claiming it as the Recovery Rebate Credit, but will I have to file taxes for that? I have little taxable income and don’t usually file federal income taxes.

Answer: Yes, you’ll have to file a 2020 federal income tax return to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit, even if you are not otherwise required to file, according to the Internal Revenue Service.

The IRS has issued all the direct Economic Impact Payments that it will for the first and second rounds of federal stimulus. The full payment for individuals was $1,200 in the first round and $600 in the second, plus $500 or $600, respectively, per qualifying child.

Although there might be a few mailed EIPs yet to be delivered, the vast majority of all payments have been received, it said.

The IRS says the best option for people in your situation is to file electronically through the IRS Free File program, using tax preparation and filing software at no cost, as long as your annual income is $72,000 or less (as you’ve indicated it is).

“The tax software will ask you questions about your income, credits and deductions and will help you figure your Recovery Rebate Credit,” it says.

You can find out more at Once there, click on the bar that says, “File Your Taxes for Free.”

Q: Will Honolulu continue the moratorium on safety checks? I don’t have the parts to fix my car. I need a donor car.

A: No, and that exemption expired Dec. 31. Here is information from Honolulu County’s Department of Customer Services:

“A valid safety inspection certificate/sticker is required to renew your motor vehicle registration.

“The safety expiration date extension ended Dec. 31, 2020; safety inspection stations have been open since May 15, 2020.

“Safety inspection certificates/stickers that expire after Dec. 31, 2020, will expire at the end of the month indicated on the certificate/sticker and are not allowed any exemption of the expiration date.”

Q: What are the countries where you can get a COVID-19 test that lets you skip quarantine when you arrive in Hawaii? Have they added more?

A: South Korea is the most recent addition, as of Feb. 5, joining Japan and Canada. “Travelers originating from any other international destination and coming directly to Hawai‘i do not have the ability to test for purposes of bypassing the state’s 10-day traveler quarantine,” according to Hawaii’s COVID-19 portal, hawaii The test must be from a Trusted Testing and Travel Partner, which you can find listed on the website.


The city needs to rethink recent changes. Why not renew a learner’s permit by mail? These kids put in all their documents less than a year ago! This is creating a big problem for teenagers who need a valid permit to take the road test and get summer jobs. We deserve better customer service. The government is failing to serve taxpayers! Enough with the excuses! — Annoyed dad


Mahalo to the kind shopper who noticed the prescriptions I inadvertently left in my shopping basket at Times Kahala and then returned them to the pharmacy. You saved me my cost, my inconvenience and my embarrassment. Thank you. — Aloha, Tom


Sending a big mahalo to Gwen, whom I met at the main post office recently. I had a flat-rate box to mail and didn’t know how to get postage for it. I knew she was leaving, but she took me out of the long but wrong line, walked me over to self-service and guided me through the steps. Then she showed me how to print a label and postage from home. She spent a lot of time helping me. Thank you. — Appreciative kupuna

Write to Kokua Line at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or email

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