Thursday, September 11, 2008


It has been a while since I reported on the government’s apparently failed economic “stimulus” check program.

The IRS has released IR-2008-103 to provide additional guidance on the payments.

Here are some highlights from the information release:

* “The most common question posed to the IRS is from people wondering when they will receive their stimulus payment. The question can be answered easily by going to and using the ‘Where’s My Economic Stimulus Payment?’ web tool.

* Some people who have either small amounts of tax liability or no tax liability are getting smaller stimulus payments than they expected or none at all. Generally, the law provided for a maximum stimulus payment of $600 ($1,200 for married couples) or an amount equal to a taxpayer’s tax liability, whichever was less. Tax liability is the net amount of federal income taxes paid after deductions and credits. If people had no tax liability but had at least $3,000 of “qualifying income” from specific sources, they would be eligible for $300 ($600 for married couples.) There also is a $300 payment for each qualifying child.

* Generally, people cannot file an amended return solely to get an economic stimulus payment unless they are a retiree, veteran or have other ‘qualifying income’. While amended returns will be processed to correct the income, deductions and income tax as appropriate, the economic stimulus payment amount will not be adjusted based on an amended return. If people do not receive a payment this year, they can claim it when they file their
[2008] tax return in 2009. [I had been told that a client who did not receive a check because the spouse reported her married name on the Form 1040 but had not changed her name with the Social Security Administration should file an amended return to get the check – apparently this would do no good.]

* People must use their most current address in order to receive a timely payment. People who change addresses after filing should complete Form 8822 and a change of address card with the U.S. Postal Service. If the postal service is unable to deliver the payment, it is returned to the IRS.

* People must file a 2007 tax return by October 15 in order to receive the economic stimulus payment this year, even if they normally do not have a filing requirement because their income is too low or not taxable. The IRS already has issued 90 percent of the economic stimulus payments but will continue to issue payments through December.

* People who do not file a tax return by October 15 can still obtain their economic stimulus payments when they file their 2008 tax return. If they wait until next year to file, their payments will be based on their 2008 income and personal situations rather than on 2007 information


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