comscore Kokua Line: Discarded stimulus cards prompt IRS reminder, offering solution for readers caught in Catch-22 | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
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Kokua Line: Discarded stimulus cards prompt IRS reminder, offering solution for readers caught in Catch-22

Question: I must have gotten one of those stimulus cards and thrown it away because I never got the money any other way. Can I claim the $600 tax credit since I threw away the card? I don’t even know how much was on it.

Answer: No, if you are certain that you received an Economic Impact Payment prepaid debit card and mistakenly threw it away as junk mail, without activating it, you cannot claim the full Recovery Rebate Credit on your 2020 federal income tax return. You must reduce your credit amount by the amount loaded on the EIP card, according to the IRS. “Whether you have activated your card is not relevant to the requirement that your Recovery Rebate Credit amount be reduced by the amount of the Economic Impact Payments,” issued to you, it says.

We realize this is a frustrating response, especially since you don’t have the card, don’t know how much was on it, and didn’t get to spend the money. The good news is that you and others in the same boat should receive a letter from the IRS offering a solution. The agency updated its website on Monday to say that EIP recipients who have not activated their cards are being mailed a reminder to do so or to request a replacement if they accidentally threw the EIP card away.

The Treasury Department logo will be visible on the envelope and letter of the reminder mailing. The left front of the envelope will include the notation, “Not a bill or an advertisement. Important information about your Economic Impact Payment.” The letter will include instructions for people who haven’t activated the card, as well as an image of the debit card.

As we’ve previously reported, some recipients threw away their original EIP card mailer, thinking it was junk mail, and were unable to obtain a replacement following the directions at or 800-240-8100. Those people should receive the IRS reminder.

We’ve also heard from readers, like you, who figure they must have thrown away the card because they believe they were eligible for the second round of stimulus and didn’t receive a payment by another method. You and others can verify whether you were issued an EIP by using the “Get My Payment” tool at This tool states the issuance date and payment method, although not the amount. If your status is not available, that means no EIP was issued for you and you can claim the Recovery Rebate Credit on your 2020 federal income taxes if you are eligible.

Q: I did my federal income taxes myself for the first time, because I wanted to claim the stimulus I never received; usually I don’t have to file because of low income. I used Free File and it wasn’t too bad, but now I’m not sure I did it right. Will I have to file again if I made a mistake on the credit?

A: No, do not file an amended return if you entered an incorrect amount for the Recovery Rebate Credit on your 2020 federal income tax return, according to the Internal Revenue Service. If you entered an amount on line 30 of Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR but miscalculated the amount, the IRS says it will correct the error and continue processing your return. Your mistake may delay processing slightly, but it won’t cause the IRS to reject your return. The IRS will send you a notice explaining any change it makes.

The Recovery Rebate Credit is for people who were entitled to the first or second round of stimulus payments but didn’t receive them directly, by direct deposit, a paper check or a prepaid debit card.

Q: What about if someone filed their taxes already without claiming the credit?

A: Yes, in that case, they would have to file an amended tax return to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit, because they left line 30 blank on Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR. “The IRS will not calculate the 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit for you if you did not enter any amount on your original tax return,” the agency says on its website.

To determine their credit amount, if any, filers can use the worksheet on page 59 of the 2020 instructions for Form 1040 and 1040-SR, at

Those who find they should have claimed the credit may file an Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, Form 1040-X. People who filed their original return electronically may be able to file Form 1040-X electronically as well, according to the IRS.

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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