IRS on YouTube: Tax agency joins the 21st century

If you want to see pop stars committing fashion disasters or politicians falling asleep at receptions, you log onto YouTube. In an innovative approach to making Americans aware of tax rebates, the IRS has climbed onboard the YouTube bandwagon. The IRS has produced four 30-second public service announcements with instructions on how to claim tax rebates and clear up any misconceptions about who is eligible.

One spot features IRS Deputy Commissioner Linda Stiff in front of an American flag saying she wants to make sure everyone eligible for a rebate receives one. Her "bottom line" is that even if you don't normally file, you need to in order to receive a payment. The straight-forward spot directs people to irs.gov for details. As of Monday, the spot had 9,274 hits on YouTube and was rated 4 of 5 stars.

One viewer commented, "This is a great step to try and reach people who may not otherwise get the word that all they need to do to get the rebate is file their 2007 income tax form."

But according to UPI, the videos are getting mixed reviews from YouTube viewers. Michele Meyers, a 22-year-old Ithaca College senior from Stanhope, NJ, e-mailed, "I don't see myself or anyone else I know looking for IRS information on YouTube . . . Even if we did, those videos would not be appealing to us in the slightest. They have no real information, and the tone is almost patronizing."

The economic stimulus plan provides rebates of anywhere from $300 to $600 for individuals and between $600 and $1200 for married couples who file jointly. USA Today attributed IRS Spokesperson Terry Lemons as saying that more than 20 million people who don't normally file tax returns could be eligible for the tax rebate. This group includes people who received a minimum of $3,000 from Social Security, veterans' benefits, railroad retirement benefits, earned income, or a combination in 2007, the news service reported.

On Saturday, the IRS held Super Saturday with 320 IRS locations nationwide opening their doors for walk-in counseling. This program was limited to individuals who are filing a tax return solely for the purpose of getting a rebate. If you want to see for yourself, go to Get Your Tax Rebate: Super Saturday.

Other videos include Get Your Tax Rebate: Taxpayers Who Normally Don't File and Get Your Tax Rebate: Beware of Rebate Scams.

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