Claiming your stimulus check on your 2020 expat tax return

Claiming your stimulus check with illustration
Claiming your stimulus check with illustration
4 min. read

This article is for US expats who did not receive their Economic Impact Payment (aka “stimulus check"). For expats who did not receive a stimulus check yet, we have good news for you! You can still claim your Economic Impact Payment as a refundable credit on your 2020 expat tax return! This is even applicable for expats who don’t owe any US tax at all (like most expats)!


On March 27, 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act passed Congress which authorized payments of up to $1,200 to eligible individuals plus $500 per qualifying child, and up to $2,400 to married couples who file a joint return plus $500 per qualifying child. Also, US expats are eligible to receive the Economic Impact Payment!

This $2 trillion bill is meant to minimize the economic damage caused by COVID-19 and since then, the IRS has been sending stimulus checks to every US citizen with a social security number who have filed their 2018 or 2019 income tax return or those who registered before the 21 November 2020 deadline.

Can I still claim the Economic Impact Payment?

Although the deadline to register for the Economic Impact Payment has passed, you are still entitled to receive an Economic Impact Payment, by way of filing your 2020 expat tax return and claiming the so-called Recovery Rebate Credit (which will be introduced in 2020 IRS tax forms).

What is the Recovery Rebate Credit?

When the IRS started to send out stimulus checks, the preliminary amount of the stimulus check was based on your 2018 or 2019 Adjusted Gross Income (therefore the requirement to have your 2018 or 2019 expat taxes filed). The final amount of your Economic Impact Payment will be based on your 2020 Adjusted Gross Income.

The Recovery Rebate Credit will act as a one-time refundable tax credit for those who have not received their Economic Impact Payment, or for those whose circumstances have changed and could be eligible to claim a higher amount now that the 2020 circumstances are known.

How does the Recovery Rebate Credit work?

If you did not receive a stimulus check, then to claim your economic impact payment you simply need to file your 2020 US expat tax return. If you are eligible, then you can claim the Recovery Rebate Credit and a refund will be sent to you automatically.

Taxpayers who received a stimulus check, but for an amount smaller than what they were entitled to (for example, if their 2020 Adjusted Gross Income was less than their 2019 Adjusted Gross Income), can claim the remainder of the Economic Impact Payment by filing their 2020 expat return.

How can Expatfile help?

You can claim your Recovery Rebate Credit as soon as the 2020 tax season opens, which is January 27, 2021. Our US expat tax software will automatically determine if you are eligible for the Recovery Rebate Credit and make it super easy for you to get your refund.

Expatfile has made filing your expat tax returns easy. It is designed to reduce your time filing taxes while making sure you are able to claim all the best expat tax breaks available. Just answer our easy-to-understand questionnaire and based on your specific situation our algorithm will maximize the expat tax breaks most favorable to you and instantly create your tax forms for your review. Once satisfied, you just e-file your return through our IRS certified e-filing connection and you’re done!

You could be eligible for the second stimulus check as well! Read more!