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Rebate checks: IRS clarifies who gets how much

  Tax  -   POSTED: 2008/03/10 15:01

Who is eligible?

More than 130 million taxpayers will receive a rebate. To qualify, you must have at least $3,000 in income to receive the minimum rebate of $300 for an individual or $600 for a couple filing jointly.

Income for this purpose includes wages, railroad retirement benefits and certain disability and survivor benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs. It also includes Social Security retirement, survivor and disability benefits but not Supplemental Security Income or investment income.

The maximum rebate is $600 for an individual and $1,200 for a married couple filing jointly.

Parents eligible for a rebate will receive $300 for each qualifying child. The child must be under age 17 as of the end of last year and live with you for more than half the year.

Rebates begin to be reduced once adjusted gross income tops $75,000 for an individual and $150,000 for a couple. Your rebate is reduced by 5 cents for every $1 you make over those thresholds.

Tax return

You must file a 2007 tax return. The IRS will use this to determine eligibility and calculate the size of the rebate.

If you have filed your return, don't worry. You don't have to file again to get the rebate, as some fear, Stiff said.

About 20 million people aren't required to file a return because they earn too little. They still must file to obtain the rebate.

The IRS is encouraging veterans and Social Security beneficiaries who usually don't file returns to file a 1040A form and write on the top "Stimulus Payment."

If you need help filing a return, the IRS, AARP and community groups will be offering free assistance.

Low- to moderate-income households can receive free help at one of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance programs. To find the nearest location to you, call 800-906-9887. To find an AARP Tax-Aide site, call 888-227-7669.

Despite the outreach, many people might never learn about the rebate and not file a return, said William Massey, a senior tax analyst with Thomson Tax & Accounting.

Massey says he has called his aunts—ages 78 and 93—to let them know that he will prepare returns for them.

If you do discover too late that you should have filed a 2007 return to obtain the rebate, you can always do so next year and receive the money, Stiff said.

When does the money arrive?

A rebate won't be lumped together with your regular tax refund. You'll receive a separate payment.

Rebates likely will be disbursed based upon Social Security numbers or geographic area, Stiff said.

The earliest rebates will be received in the first week of May by those who used direct deposit when filing their 2007 returns. Even if you're not due a refund for 2007, you can make sure the rebate is directly deposited into your account by filling out the bank routing information on your return.

Those who don't use direct deposit will start receiving paper checks the second week of May.

The IRS plans to set up a system where you can check online to find out when you'll receive your rebate, similar to how you can now track your refund online.

If you moved since filing your 2007 tax return, make sure you send the IRS a change-of-address form so you receive your rebate, Massey said.

Who won't get a rebate?

You won't receive money if you can be claimed as a dependent on someone else's tax return.


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