My wife got stimulus payments. I did not. Do we file a tax return?


Q. My wife and I receive Social Security benefits. She received $1,200 stimulus in 2020, but I did not. She then received the $600 stimulus, but I did not. When filing our taxes and we file for the Recovery Rebate Credit, should we file married filing jointly? We haven’t filed a tax return since 1991.
— Husband

A. The answer about your stimulus payment will depend on your specific situation.

Based on the limited information you provided, here’s what we can tell you.

Given that you have not filed a return in nearly 30 years, we’re going to assume your total income, combined, is under the tax filing threshold, said Matthew DeFelice, a certified financial planner with U.S. Financial Services in Fairfield.

For 2020, those married filing jointly don’t have to file a return if income is less than $24,800 if both spouses are under age 65; $26,100 if one spouse is under age 65 and one spouse is over; or $27,400 if both spouses are 65 or older, he said.

That would also mean your income level makes you eligible for the stimulus payments. The full payment goes to singles who earn up to $75,000 and married couples who earn up to $150,000.

You are correct that you would need to file a tax return and use the Recovery Rebate Credit to get the stimulus funds.

“Assuming you do not have any taxable income and the only reason for filing at all is for the husband to claim his stimulus money, you are free to file either married filing jointly or married filing separately,” DeFelice said. “Both options will achieve the husband’s goal of requesting the stimulus payments he should have received.”

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This story was originally published March 19, 2021. presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.