Missed the deadline for a tax rebate? There may still be time

Going, going… gone? With the October 15th tax filing deadline past, the chance to apply for your economic stimulus rebate has also passed, though only temporarily for most taxpayers. You may remember that, to get the rebate, you had to file a 2007 tax return, and that window of opportunity has closed.

The rebates were created for 2008 tax returns, but, recognizing that the economy needed a boost and that the best way to jump start it was with consumer spending, Congress decided to base eligibility on known information, that is, the income reported on 2007 tax returns. That way, checks could be sent out in advance rather than waiting till 2008 returns were filed. If you qualified for a rebate based on your 2007 income but did not file a 2007 return by 10/15/08, you may be able to claim the credit on your 2008 return.

Here's the catch. Having missed the deadline, your eligibility will now have to be based on your 2008 income. Eligibility requirements include phase-outs for adjusted gross incomes beginning at $75,000 for single taxpayers (topping out at $87,000) and at $150,000 (topping out at $174,000) for married/joint taxpayers. So it's possible that, although you qualified based on your 2007 income, your 2008 income would make you ineligible. This only affects those who apply for the rebate on their 2008 income tax returns. Those who already received rebates and end up with income in 2008 that is too high to have qualified will not have to pay back the money.

Here are some points you need to know about the stimulus checks:

  • The rebate is counted as a credit against your 2008 tax bill, but will not affect or offset your 2008 bill or anticipated refund.
  • For those who are under the phase-out limits, most single taxpayers qualified for a $600 rebate, and most couples for $1,200 plus $300 for each dependent child under age 17.
  • To qualify, a taxpayer has to have at least $3,000 in income, which could be from earned income, Social Security, Veteran's disability and survivor benefits, certain Railroad Retirement benefits, and nontaxable combat pay.
  • In addition, taxpayers must have a valid Social Security Number (SSN) to qualify for the rebate. Dependent children must also have valid SSNs. In both cases, individual taxpayer identification numbers and adoption taxpayer identification numbers are not acceptable.
  • Taxpayers who can be claimed as dependents on someone else's return are not eligible to receive a rebate, even if they were not actually claimed as a dependent.

Leading up to the October deadline, the IRS reported that it had already paid about $94 billion to 116 million taxpayers, some of whom were married couples, but counted as one.

Download this IRS publication to learn more about the rebates.

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