Can I file an amended tax return to get my stimulus?

April 01, 2022 by Carolyn Richardson, EA, MBA
United States Treasury Check

I got married Dec.11th, the woman who did my taxes filed MFS..and I was eligible for my stimulus that I never received..but they took my whole refund. With her doing I need to file an amended return? Wasn't asked to show proof if marriage either.

-Stanley, Tennessee

Hello Stanley,

Thank you for contacting us with your question regarding the third economic impact payment. And congratulations on the new marriage! If we understand your question correctly, you’d like to know if you can file an amended return to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit on your 2021 return. The person who prepared your 2021 tax return filed your return as Married Filing Separately. The Recovery Rebate Credit (RRC) is the credit you claim when filing your return if you did not receive the economic stimulus payment.

The good news is that, yes, you can file an amended return to claim the credit if you believe you are eligible for it. Whether you are eligible for it will depend on several things, however. But because you filed separately from your spouse on your original return, you are permitted to amend your return to married filing joint with your new spouse, providing your spouse is agreeable to that. Generally, you both must be U.S. citizens or U.S. resident aliens in 2021 to be eligible, and you or your spouse cannot be claimed as a dependent by some other taxpayer (such as a parent).

You may not have received the stimulus either previously or when your return was filed because the income limitations on this third round of payments were lower than for the advanced payments issued in 2020. To be eligible to receive the full amount of the credit for 2021, your adjusted gross income would need to be under $75,000 if you were married filing separately (or $150,000 if you amend your return to file jointly). The credit completely phases out and is reduced to $0 if your income is more than $80,000 for your married filing separate return, or $160,000 if you amend to married filing jointly. You and your spouse should check your separate returns to determine if the combined income on both returns would still disqualify you from being eligible for the credit. If your combined income is too high to receive the credit, there would likely be no real benefit from amending your return. However, it is generally more favorable for married couples to file joint returns as there are other tax benefits to being married that extend beyond the Recovery Rebate Credit.

With all that being said, it sounds like you may still not receive the stimulus by claiming it as a credit on an amended return. We don’t know who “they” are who “took your whole refund” or what they took it for. If your refund was used just to pay your return processing fees, you might be fine (but an amended return will also cost money to process). But if it was the IRS taking your refund for prior outstanding tax debt, filing an amended return to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit may only result in the IRS applying that refund toward any past tax debt. While the advance payments of these credits in the form of stimulus payments would not be used to pay outstanding debts, claiming them as a credit is not subject to these restrictions. And to add more woe, if your new spouse’s income was also generating a refund, filing a joint return when one spouse has a tax debt but the other does not means the IRS can take the refunds due to both spouses to pay off the debt of the one spouse. You may want to go to the IRS website,, and search for “Injured Spouse.”

Again, congratulations on your nuptials, and we hope for the best for you on your tax question.

Carolyn Richardson



Carolyn Richardson, EA, MBA
Learning Content Managing Editor


Carolyn has been in the tax field since 1984, when she went to work at the IRS as a Revenue Agent. Carolyn taught many classes at the IRS on both tax law changes and new hire training. In 1990, she left the IRS for a position at CCH, where she was a developer on both the service bureau software and on the Prosystevm fx tax preparation software for nearly 17 years. After leaving CCH she worked at several Los Angeles-based CPA firms before starting at TaxAudit as an Audit Representative in 2009. Carolyn became the manager of the Education and Research Department in 2011, developing course materials for the company and overseeing the research requests. Currently, she is the Learning Content Managing Editor. 


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