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When the first two stimulus checks were issued I received physical checks for $1200 and $600. For various reasons, these checks were never deposited or cashed in any way. Now I'm trying to do my taxes and I'm unsure how to handle the situation with the Recovery Rebate Credit.

Do I:

a) For lines #5 and #8 do I treat it as if my EIP was $0 rather than $1200 and $600 resulting in Line 21 as $1800.

b) Use the check amounts and end up with Line 21 as $0?

I've found various questions related to having never received a check which seem to indicate option A. I'm guessing my situation would be treated similarly, even though I did actually receive the checks, as the end result is the same: no money.

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    If the IRS sent you stimulus checks, I suspect if you try to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit on your tax return, it will get adjusted automatically. Why were the checks not deposited/cashed, and can they still be (I think the deadline is a year)? – Craig W Mar 30 at 0:25
  • I've always been terrible about cashing checks, occasionally forgetting about them entirely. I rarely get one, and when I do they are usually of relatively insignificant value. I've been fortunate enough to not really need that money so the checks ended up lost for a significant time period. – kicken Mar 30 at 1:18
  • @kicken I congratulate you on your ability to be slack about cashing checks. It means you are not living hand-to-mouth, and have your finances in reasonable order. That said, yes, I would just go and cash them now. If they bounce, then I'd deal directly with the IRS about their bounced check. Mostly, for the sheer ironic pleasure of chasing after the IRS for their bounced check! – Harper - Reinstate Monica Mar 30 at 18:54
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The 2nd check is only since January 2021, you can still deposit the check. Do so ASAP.

The first check is older. You should try and deposit it.

The IRS sent the checks. You shouldn't claim on you didn't get them. Try to deposit them first.

So what happens if the check was lost? the IRS has a FAQ, this is pulled from the FAQ related to the first check:

Q F1. I received my payment by check, but it was lost, stolen or destroyed. How do I get a new one? (updated March 22, 2021)

A1. If you received your payment by check and it was lost, stolen or destroyed, you may need to request a payment trace so the IRS can determine if your payment was cashed. See How do I request a payment trace to track my first or second Economic Impact Payments?

If a trace is initiated and the IRS determines that the check wasn’t cashed, the IRS will credit your account for that payment, but the IRS cannot reissue your payment. Instead, you will need to claim the 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit on your 2020 tax return if eligible.

Note: If you are filing your 2020 tax return before your trace is complete, do not include the payment amount on line 16 or 19 of the 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit Worksheet. If you do, you may receive a notice saying your 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit was changed, but an adjustment will be made after the trace is complete and it is determined your payment has not been cashed. You will not need to take any additional action to receive the credit.

If you do not request a trace on your payment, you may receive an error when claiming the Recovery Rebate Credit on your 2020 tax return. Since the payment was issued to you, you may not be eligible for any credit.

If you were issued a payment and have not received it, see How do I request a payment trace to track my first or second Economic Impact Payments?

The same page has a information on how to start a trace. It doesn't make it clear what you should do if you just haven't tried to cash the check. I don't think you would just claim you didn't get it, because the IRS computer knows it was sent, and would require a trace be done. This lack of trace could delay the rest of your tax return being processed.

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  • The IRS sending the checks is not a guarantee that they were received. The OP could simply burn the checks and claim non-receipt. – jamesqf Mar 30 at 4:37

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